Exploring Our Worship and Sermons
Updated: 7 days ago
Each week, we explore different holy text within the Bible as part of our weekly Sunday sermons. While we base our discussions on the teachings of the Bible, we connect them to our hectic, confusing modern day lives. Our worship services combine reflection on the scripture, singing, praise, praying and a message. Both the pastor and lay people (men, women and children) participate in and lead in worship , service and spiritual growth. Please join us Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!
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PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO THE ONGOING LOCAL AND GLOBAL HEALTH CRISIS, WE ARE NOT HAVING IN-PERSON WORSHIP SERVICES. Please remember that worship and our faith community is NOT about a building - it is us, the people. So even though it is safest for us to not be together in person right now, we can worship anywhere!
We are praying that this new surge will end very soon. We continue to monitor the situation and plan for how to handle re-opening for in person worship. We pray you are healthy and staying well. Though the County is now allowing limited in-person services, we are continuing to offer On-Line services on Sunday mornings at 10:00am and will do so until we believe we can safely re-open. If you wish to join us on Sundays, please contact us through our Facebook page (@SantaPaulaFCC), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite at 805-351-5501.
This page is regular updated with some of the most recent sermon topics.
SUNDAY, February 21, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: Luke 1: 67-80
Sermon: Guide My Feet
“Guide our feet into the path of peace.” These words in Luke 1:79 bring comfort and challenge. Inherent in Zechariah’s words is hope for both this world and the next. It’s not enough to hope for what is to come, without also doing our part to leave this place in which we live better than we found it. The path of peace cannot just be peace for ourselves, it must include peace for those around us.
Our song of inspiration for this week is the spiritual Guide My Feet. This powerful and moving, yet simple, song is a prayer for guidance, especially in the dark and challenging times in our lives.
God, as we journey through life, as this song proclaims, we ask you to guide our feet, hold our hands, stand by us, remind us that we are your children, and search our hearts. Help us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be and lead us in the way that brings life for ourselves and for others.
SUNDAY, February 14, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: Matthew 17: 1-9
Sermon: A Mountaintop Experience
Jesus took Peter, James and John away from everything and to the top of a mountain where they had a profound experience with God. Every time I read this scripture, it transports me back to my own “mountaintop experiences.” Some of them have literally happened on the top of mountains, others have just been profound experiences of the Divine.
Either way, they are moments that you wish you could stay in, but ultimately they all come to an end. When the disciples’ time on the mountain was over and “they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus” (Matt. 17:8). We too have to go back down the mountain and get back to the work and the difficulties that lie ahead. Somehow, though, these experiences sustain us, knowing that God goes with us along the way.
This Sunday we will be exploring Matthew 17:1-9 and the theme, “A Mountaintop Experience.”
SUNDAY, February 7, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Sermon: The Table
One of the cornerstones of our church is that we welcome all to the table as Christ has welcomed us. There are so many significant moments in my faith journey that centered around the “table.” Sometimes it was a physical table, other times just a metaphorical table, but the ritual of gathering together, breaking bread and sharing the cup of the new covenant has always brought me comfort and a sense of belonging.
To this day, there are different traditions that exist around how often people should take communion and who is welcome to take communion. In some traditions, communion tokens were historically required to be shown in order to prove that one was allowed to participate. In our tradition, this is not the case. We believe that it is by grace that we are welcomed to the table, and it is with grace that we welcome others to find their own wholeness at the table.
As we eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of Jesus, we are invited each week to recommit ourselves to following in the way of Jesus. As we wrap up our identity series this week, we will be exploring 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and the theme, “The Table.”
SUNDAY, January 31, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: Genesis 18: 1-8
As followers of Jesus, we are asked to welcome and accept one another as Christ accepted us. When we look to Jesus’ example, we see that he spoke to, ate with, welcomed, and ultimately brought to a place of healing, all kinds of people that had been told they were too far from redemption. People who had suffered on the social outskirts of society, people who suffered debilitating illness, people whose pasts were seemingly questionable, and even people with different or no faith tradition.
Jesus embodied God’s welcome and grace in ways that his followers at the time, and I would even say his followers today, sometimes struggled to replicate. As we continue to study the Bible and Jesus’ life and ministry, and as we live together in community, may we practice welcoming others as they come so that they might have the chance to be transformed into the best version of themselves, and we might have that chance as well.
SUNDAY, January 24, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: John 17: 20-23
Given the tenor and challenges of the past few years, wholeness and unity of any kind continue to feel illusive. Individually, the wholeness and harmony of our body, mind, and spirit have been challenged time and again. Collectively, we are still horribly fragmented and divided.
For this reason, it is vitally important that we reflect on what it means for us to be a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. What does it mean to be whole as individuals and as a community? What would it look like? What work does it take to make movement toward wholeness? Why does it matter?
As we continue our identity series this week, we will be exploring John 17:20-23 and the theme, “Wholeness.”
SUNDAY, January 17, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: Matthew 28: 16-20
Sermon: A MOVEMENT
A lot of things start out as movements. People are excited, engaged, active, and energized to make a change or a difference in some way. Movements are not about a specific place; they are about joining together with others around a common purpose. In the case of the church, the purpose is to continue Jesus’ work and ministry in the world.
The challenge of a movement is sustainability. How do we not become stagnant and stuck or burnt out and disillusioned? Over the next few weeks, we are going to explore together what it means to be “A movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” If you haven’t figured it out already, this first week, we are going to focus on what it means to be part of a movement.
Movements ask us to be creative, take risks, and sometimes even invite us to change and grow. Join us virtually this Sunday, January 17th as we explore Matthew 28:16-20 and the theme, “A Movement.”
SUNDAY, January 10, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12
Sermon: Trusting Our Dreams
Since we started the tradition of receiving a “star word” a couple years back, this has become one of my favorite Sundays of the year. The idea behind receiving a word is that it gives us the opportunity to focus on something specific for the new year. Last year, mine was “openness.” What a word that was for 2020!
In addition to having the opportunity to share our word from last year, or what word we received this year, we will look a little more closely at the story of the Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem. What a journey they were on. Isn’t it awesome that they knew how to discern their dreams and recognize that they needed to change course and head home by a different road? Are we open to changing direction and listening for guidance?
When we gather on Sunday morning, we will read Matthew 2:1-12 and explore the theme, “Trusting Our Dreams.”
SUNDAY, January 3, 2021 On-Line Service
Scripture: Jeremiah 17: 7-8 and Philippians 4: 8-9
Sermon: From Drought to Abundance
The beginning of a new year is often a time for reflection and for making resolutions. It’s a time when people think about the significant moments of the past year and about what they might want to do different in the coming year.
2020 was definitely one for the history books. As we close the chapter on 2020, may we remember the moments of light and blessings. The times when we experienced God’s presence. The moments of joy in the midst of great despair. The ways that people came together to help one another. The ways we connected even while far apart. It’s also a time to ask, so what does 2020 ask of me in the new year? What does it invite me to?
As we gather on Sunday morning, we will reflect on two scriptures. We will read Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Philippians 4:8-9 while exploring the theme, “From Drought to Abundance.”
SUNDAY, December 27, 2020 On-Line Service
Scripture: Psalm 33:12 and Colossians 3: 23-24
Sermon: Welcome: A New Beginning
Last week we celebrated Jesus becoming THE Light of the world and anticipated Christmas with hymns, readings and carols of Christmas. But Jesus’s light doesn’t just shine one day of the year. Even in the challenging times we are experiencing we can look to God’s light as a beacon for not just how to cope, but how to shine for others. As we welcome a New Year let us give thanks to God and "really" welcome a great New Beginning with Jesus as our Light! Hope, Peace, and Joy are reflected with our Light!
Join us this Sunday as David Hugins brings the message, exploring Psalm 33:12 and Colossians 3: 23-24 and the theme of “A New Beginning”. Pastor Jenny is taking a well-deserved week off.
SUNDAY, December 20, 2020 (Fourth Sunday in Advent! Christmas Service.)
On-Line Service Only)
Homily: Welcoming the Light
May we, this Christmas season, be filled with peace, and the knowledge that God is always coming into the world. May we seek God, not in a long ago stable or ancient manger, but in the people we meet and the depths of our own hearts. May the blessing of Christmas make us a blessing to others. May the peace of the season infuse all that we do. May we welcome the challenge of discipleship. May we offer ourselves as God’s ministers. May we embody hope, peace, joy, and love. May we be transformed.
Join us this Sunday, December 20, at 10am, as we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a special Christmas service. This is a great time to visit for the first time, or invite your friends. The service will include telling the Christmas story and singing Christmas carols.
If you are interested in joining us for virtual worship this Sunday at 10am, please email our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, at email@example.com. You can also stay connected with us by visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.
SUNDAY, December 13, 2020 (Third Sunday in Advent! On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Isaiah 9: 2-7
Sermon: From Darkness to Joy
Even though, for some, 2020 has been a time to step back, reassess, relax, and take on new activities. For so many people, this year has been a dark, heavy, and even scary time. A time where the darkness, at times, threatened to overwhelm them.
Whether that darkness was isolation, COVID, unemployment, underemployment, loss of a loved one, health challenges, loss of direction, wrestling with historic and present injustices, or feeling helpless to change their current circumstances, there are so many things that threatened to keep us chained and steal our joy.
Our scripture for this week reminds us that the light of God comes to people in the midst of their struggles and despair. In fact, in the scripture for this week, it is because people have experienced the darkness that they can fully appreciate the joy that they found in the promise that God was sending a child to bring peace, justice and righteousness to the world.
Join us this week as we read Isaiah 9: 2-7 and reflect on the theme “From Darkness to Joy.”
SUNDAY, December 6, 2020 (Second Sunday in Advent! On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Matthew 5: 1-12, 14-16
Sermon: Light of the World
Jesus was always saying things that surprised and shocked those around him, but they were also messages that brought profound hope and peace to people in his community and beyond who had been too long left out.
From the prostitutes, tax collectors and “sinners,” to the lepers, the children, the poor, or the powerless, Jesus had a soft spot for those who were rejected, disadvantaged or suffering. Rather than meeting them with disdain, he reached out to them, shared meal with them, and helped them find healing and wholeness.
This week, we will be lighting the second advent candle, the candle of peace. In the Scriptures, Jesus talks about us being the light of the world and being peacemakers. In light of Jesus example, what does it look like for us to share our light with the world? What does the scripture say about being peacemakers?
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth anew, let us gather to reflect on the life Jesus lead and the ways we can live the lives Jesus is calling us to live. Our scriptures for this week is Matthew 5:1-12, 14-16. Our theme is “Light of the World.”
If you are interested in joining us for virtual worship this Sunday at 10am, please email our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay connected with us by visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.
SUNDAY, November 29, 2020 (First Sunday in Advent !On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Isaiah 40: 1, 25-31 & Psalm 139: 7-12
Sermon: Internal Light
As we begin the journey to Christmas (the season of Advent), it is important to remember that this is meant to be a time of preparation. This year, our advent theme centers around bearing light. This first week of advent, we will be exploring the inner light that bring internal peace. Without internal peace, it is hard, if not impossible, to be hopeful.
It is important to remember that while Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration and joy, for many, this is a difficult time of year. Many people are carrying significant weights: grief, loss, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, financial stress, unemployment, uncertainty, aging parents, sick children, recent diagnoses, and unknown illnesses. The public tone of the season does not always resonate with people’s private experience.
Let us join together this Sunday to acknowledge the joys and the difficulties, read scripture, pray, sing, light candles, reflect, and seek to move through the hard times and toward healing. There is power in gathering, in remembering we are not alone on the journey, and in making space to experience God’s love and hope anew.
Our scriptures for this week are Isaiah 40:1, 25-31 and Psalm 139:7-12. Our theme is “Internal Light.”
SUNDAY, November 22, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Psalm 146
Sermon: Grateful Hearts
The holidays are rapidly approaching. In a year that has been filled with so much loss, sacrifice, hardship, heartache, and stress, it is vitally important that we take a few moments each day to step back and think of things we are thankful for. It is also a time to re-focus on what it is that God desires for our world and our lives.
Our scripture for this week talks about both of these things. It reminds us that God is trustworthy, faithful, and worthy to be praised. It also talks about the ideal way that God desires for the world to be ordered and oriented.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 146 and the theme, “Grateful Hearts.”
If you are interested in joining us for virtual worship this Sunday at 10am, please email our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, at email@example.com. You can also stay connected with us by visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.
SUNDAY, November 15, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Matthew 4:23-24, 5:9 & Galatians 3:28
The U.S. presidential election which took place last week has been described as one of the most contentious and crucial in the county’s history. Many voters on both sides felt that if their candidate didn’t get elected, the country would be in grave danger. Though the voting is over, as a people we are still deeply divided.
So how do we settle our thoughts and find a way to move forward that promotes peace and harmony? Through reconciliation, which starts with God, and God has something to say about this.
The church is what God has to say. The church (that is us) is called to be a Christ-centered community of diversity. Its very life proclaims the power of God to overcome the divisions that set people against each other. In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul announced, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28).
Christ calls us to be peacemakers who cross the borders and barriers that divide us – radical in our generosity and welcome. It is a call to see others in their full humanity, to persist in seeking their good. Followers of Jesus are present where relationships are made or broken….the church has the opportunity to offer hope, deeply rooted hope. Join us Sunday as we explore "Reconciliation".
SUNDAY, November 8, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25
Sermon: Choosing Who To Serve
After Moses’ death, Joshua was the one who lead the Hebrew people out of the wilderness and into the promised land. In our passage for this week, Joshua asks the people to remember the ways that God has been at work throughout their history. To remember the good times or the hard times. The ways God provided and made a way when there seemed like there wasn’t one. Then, he asks them to make a choice. Who/what will they serve?
There is always a temptation to put all kinds of things before God. Whether a person, an identity, or an object, there are all kinds of things that can draw our time, energy and attention. Just like the Hebrew people, we too must reflect on how God has been at work throughout our spiritual history and in our personal lives, and make a choice. Who will we serve? Who will we put first? Who/what will be our guiding star?
For Joshua, the answer is, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” As we take stock of everything going on in the world around us, how will we choose to respond? Will we choose to do so through and grounded in a relationship with God?
Join us this Sunday as we explore Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and the theme, “Choosing Who to Serve.”
SUNDAY, November 1, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Psalm 103: 1-12
Sermon: Forgiving Ourselves
In scripture, God is constantly challenging us to walk in his example, and to do the right thing. There are times when we all fall short. Jesus was sent to cover all of our sins and, in being God made flesh, challenge us to do better for ourselves and for each other. Having our faith tested is a part of everyday life, and we can rest easy after repenting and accepting forgiveness. But the hardest part can be forgiving ourselves. How do we do as called by God: to love him above all else, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, if we do not forgive ourselves?
Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 103: 1-12 and the theme, “Forgiving Ourselves.” A guest speaker, Marques Guy, will be bringing us the message this week.
SUNDAY, October 25, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: 1 John 1: 5-10 and Proverbs 28: 13-14
Sermon: Awareness and Reconciliation
This week we will be looking at the relationship between sin, confession, forgiveness and reconciliation. Put another way, we will reflecting on what it means to admit that we fall short of living the lives God desires for us. We will talk about what it looks like in our tradition to confess these things to God, and we will be assured that when we do this, we are reconciled anew with God and one another.
In some traditions this is a weekly practice. In others it occurs more infrequently and informally. We will be exploring together the importance and power of admitting that we make mistakes and sometimes miss the mark and taking those things to God.
Join us this Sunday as we explore 1 John 1:5-10 and Proverbs 28:13-14 and the theme, “Awareness and Reconciliation.”
SUNDAY, October 18, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Leviticus 19: 9-18 and Galatians 5: 13-15
Sermon: Back to the Basics
Let’s talk about neighbors. What does loving our neighbor look like? Who is our neighbor? In what ways do our actions in 2020 reflect or not reflect those described in Leviticus 9:9-18?
What would it look like if everyone lived out these values? If we made sure everyone has enough to eat, if there was no lying, no stealing, if everyone was paid their fair wage in a timely manner, if no one spoke badly behind other’s backs, if people didn’t cause others to stumble, if everyone got a truly fair day in court, or if there was no hate (nor actions to cause it)? What difference would it make if we truly loved our neighbors? No, we aren’t perfect, but there has got to be a better way than to move forward.
Also, there are a lot of calls for freedom these days. As we navigate how we live into the new future that is emerging, let us not forget the warning from Galatians 5:15, which says, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Join us this Sunday as we explore Leviticus 19:9-18 and Galatians 5:13-15 and the theme, “Back to the Basics.”
SUNDAY, October 11, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Philippians 4: 1-9
Sermon: Peaceful Struggle
In the letter to the Philippians, Paul is concerned about the newly formed community of faith that he left there. He expresses his deep love and concern for them. Paul also encourages them to support one another and live self-sacrificial lives in pursuit of the gospel.
In chapter 4, Paul addresses a conflict that has arisen among two of the leaders. We are not told what the conflict is, but Euodia and Syntyche are clearly in disagreement. The community of faith is encouraged to support these women for they are important and have struggled with Paul in the work of the gospel. Paul then lifts up the qualities he sees as important signs of living as people of God.
In these divided and turbulent times in which we live, where people who formerly worked together find themselves at each other’s throats, or not talking at all, let us explore together what lessons this letter has for us.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Philippians 4:1-9 and the theme, “Peaceful Struggle.”
SUNDAY, October 4, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Psalm 23: 1-6
Sermon: Walking in the Dark
Psalm 23 is a familiar text for most of us. If you have ever attended a funeral, you have likely heard it, as it is a time-honored favorite for such occasions. This week we will dive a little deeper into this well-known Psalm.
What is it that makes it so comforting? What does it tell us about the Psalmist’s relationship with God? What does it suggest about the nature of God? In these turbulent days in which we live, let us explore together the ways that these words are hope to the living.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 23:1-6 and the theme, “Walking in the Dark.”
SUNDAY, September 27, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Exodus 17: 1-7
Sermon: FROM TRAUMA TO TRUST
The journey we are on in life isn’t so different from that of the Hebrew people traveling through the wilderness; life happens in stages. The stages of our journey may or may not include literally packing everything up and moving to the next spot, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t definitive events that mark the change from one stage to the next. These markers include the death of a loved one, a marriage, changing jobs, losing stable housing, having a child, retiring, and more.
Even when these changes or events are good, they can trigger our trauma responses. We see the same thing happening with the Hebrew people. They had experienced oppression and harsh treatment while enslaved in Egypt. When they journey out into the wilderness, they go through cycle after cycle of complaining, having God hear and provide for them, only to fall back into the old pattern of complaining all over again. In fact, our text ends with, “Is the Lord among us or not?” How do we meet the new stages of life? If we haven’t done the work to heal from our past trauma, we too can fall back into old patterns.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Exodus 17:1-7 and the theme, “From Trauma to Trusting.”
SUNDAY, September 20, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Exodus 16: 2-15
Sermon: Here and Now
When life gets hard, or we are sad and lonely, we sometimes create in our mind a version of the past that was better than the time we are living in now. That time seems better, less complicated, and happier than the current time. It is not always the case that the past was actually better. In our text for this week, the Hebrew people find themselves wishing they were back in Egypt, as if it is better than the wilderness where they now find themselves. But was it really better? They were enslaved in a foreign land and treated harshly.
Even as the people complain in the scarcity of the wilderness and wish to be back in Egypt, God continues to hear them, to journey with them, and to provide for their needs, hoping that the people will choose to continue to follow God’s teaching. We all know that difficult times and exhaustion don’t always bring out the best in us, or those around us. So how will we cope with these times? Will we complain to anyone who will listen? Will we romanticize the past? Or will we accept the moment in which we find ourselves, find a way to be present, and allow God to meet us where we are, so we can figure out how to keep moving forward?
Join us this Sunday as we explore Exodus 16:2-15 and the theme, “Here and Now.”
SUNDAY, September 13, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Psalms 119: 121-128, 134
Sermon: Overcoming Barriers
Last week, as we explored verses 33-40 of Psalm 119. We talked about worship and the fact that, ultimately, everyone worships something. The question is, what do we worship? Do we worship power, success, money, beauty or intellect? Or do we worship God? Psalm 119 calls us to worship and follow in God’s way and the ways that lead to justice, love, peace and compassion, and not the ways of this world.
This week, we will look a little more closely at another part of Psalm 119, specifically verses 121-128 and 134. One specific way the Psalmist reflects on living into God’s way and not the world’s way is by trying to do what is right and just. The Psalmist reflects on the ways that the experience of human oppression and injustice causes them to draw closer to God. The Psalmist asks God to preserve their life, help them keep God’s teaching, and continue to walk in God’s way, even in the face of such challenging circumstances.
As I read through this part of the psalm, I find myself wondering, what or who do we draw close to during these difficult times? In the face of the cries for justice being heard around the world, through long bouts of isolation, through our grief and struggles, and so many other trials… where do we find our center? What keeps us from finding joy in our relationship with God?
Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 119:121-128, 134 and the theme, “Overcoming Barriers.”
SUNDAY, September 6, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Psalms 119: 33-40
Sermon: Finding Our Way
Through these days filled with news of COVID-19, civil unrest, political turmoil, grief and loneliness, I am reminded anew of the importance of turning to God and seeking God’s guidance for our path.
Our Psalm for this week is a good reminder that injustice and oppression are real. That there are tough times that we will face in our lives. And it is a reminder that we are to turn to God, seek God with our whole heart, and know that God will be there to comfort us, guide us, preserve our lives.
Let us seek the one whose word is a light to our path, especially during these difficult days. Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 119:33-40 and the theme, “Finding Our Way.”
SUNDAY, August 30, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Ruth 4: 1-22
Sermon: Love is an Action Word
Finally, in Chapter 4, Ruth and Naomi’s hopes are fulfilled. Boaz marries Ruth to redeem the line of Elimelech and help the two women find the security and peace they have so desperately longed for. Further, Ruth becomes pregnant and has a son who (spoiler alert) goes on to become the grandfather of King David.
In the women’s suffering, struggles, and grief, the seeds are planted that will go on to change the world. Had these women given up or had Ruth sought out her own security apart from Naomi, it would have changed the course of history.
Though they would never know the full impact their lives had on the world, we do. Just as Ruth and Naomi’s striving changed the world for the better, may it be that ours does as well. Join us this Sunday as we explore Ruth 4:1-22 and the theme, “Love is an Action Word.”
SUNDAY, August 23, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Ruth 3: 1-18
Sermon: On the Edge of Hope
Our scripture this week begins with Naomi telling Ruth that it is time to find a “home” for her. The word translated “home” in Hebrew refers to a place of rest, serenity and security. After all the insecurity, vulnerability, and heartache, it seems that there will, in fact, be a hopeful resolution to the women’s journey.
While the story is not yet resolved in chapter 3 of the book of Ruth, the women are left with a promise that Boaz will make sure they are not left empty. As a sign of this, he once again sends Ruth with extra grain, six measures to be exact, so that she does not go back empty-handed. It is a sign of the fullness and blessing that will come out of the women’s struggles, emptiness, and Ruth’s hard work and care for her mother-in-law.
It required risk-taking to get where they were. It required hard work. It required grieving, and passing through stages of hopelessness, but now, they are stand on the edge of hope… holding their breath to see if their efforts paid off.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Ruth 3:1-18 and the theme, “On the Edge of Hope.”
SUNDAY, August 16, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Ruth 2: 1-23
Sermon: Trying Times
Even as Ruth and Naomi’s fortunes begin to change, the threats to their safety remain as an echo in the background of the narrative. From Boaz telling the young men not to touch, humiliate or dishonor her, to the many references to Ruth’s status as a foreign woman whose husband has died, it is clear that though the women have plenty to eat, they are still vulnerable.
So, Ruth continues to work hard each day gleaning in the fields from morning until night for the entire harvest season. What other choice does she have? The women are living in the place of anticipation and waiting. There are glimmers of hope, demonstrations of kindness, and even Naomi’s faith in God is renewed, but they are not out of the woods yet.
Join us this Sunday as we explore the moving narrative of Ruth 2:1-23 and the theme, “Trying Times.”
SUNDAY, August 9, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Ruth 1: 1-18
Sermon: Facing the Impossible
Famine, leaving you homeland, the loss of a spouse and children, and facing an uncertain future were realities Naomi knew all too well. The pain and trauma was almost too much for her to bear and enough to leave her bitter. Her daughter-in-law Ruth, however, refused to leave Naomi’s side. Clinging to her and vowing, “your people will be my people, and your God my God” Ruth brought Naomi comfort and hope. Ruth too knew the pain of losing a spouse, and she was without children after many years of marriage to Naomi’s son. In those days, she too surely carried her own hidden pain.
Yet together, and trusting in God, these women would overcome great obstacles. Rather than getting stuck in their sorrow, they made a way forward. Join us this Sunday as we explore the powerful images in Ruth 1:1-18 and the theme, “Facing the Impossible.”
SUNDAY, August 2, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Genesis 32: 22-31
Sermon: Striving With God
How is your faith and relationship with God doing during these trying times in which we live? Are you pacing yourself for the marathon? Are you arguing or bargaining with God? Do you find yourself wrestling with God? Or are you running in the opposite direction?
These are all responses that we find in scripture and have probably experienced at some point in our spiritual journey. No matter where you find yourself, you are invited to join us this Sunday as we further explore Jacob’s relationship with God and reflect on how we are doing in our own relationships with God.
We will be reading Genesis 32:22-31 and exploring the theme, “Striving with God.” No matter where you find yourself on your journey of faith, you are welcome to join us.
SUNDAY, July, 26, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Genesis 28: 10-19a
Sermon: Making a Way
Rebekah helped Jacob deceive his father Isaac so that he could receive the blessing that was supposed to go to his older twin brother Esau. After this deception, Rebekah told Jacob to go to Haran to the house of her brother Laban.
While on his journey, Jacob has an encounter with God that leaves him exclaiming, “Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:16b).
What is God up to in this story? Why would God show up and promise blessings to Jacob after he “stole” his brother’s blessing? I remember being perplexed by this story when I heard it in Sunday school.
As I hear these stories now, I find myself a little less critical of Jacob and Rebekah and more reflective of the ways that power structures are at play in our daily lives. In a world where women and second sons had no power or right to an inheritance, these two made a way where wasn’t one. It wasn’t a perfect solution by any means, but how might it draw us into deeper reflection?
Join us this Sunday morning as we examine Genesis 28:10-19a and explore the theme, “Making A Way.” How do we make a way forward though these times in which we live? Is it possible that God is with us in ways we don’t yet recognize?
SUNDAY, July, 19, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Isaiah 55: 6-13
Sermon: Promises in Parched Places
Isaiah 55 reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than ours. This is why it calls us to seek God in our most devastating and hopeless times.
While still in exile, the words of Isaiah came to the people and reminded them to turn to God, to seek God, and that ultimately the rain would come down and water the dry land of their lives until new life sprung forth.
Join us this Sunday morning as we examine Isaiah 55:6-13 and explore the theme, “Promises in Parched Places.”
SUNDAY, July, 12, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30
Sermon: What Will It Take?
As our text from Matthew 11 continues this week, Jesus calls out “this generation” for neither listening to John the Baptist’s calls for repentance, nor being moved by his acts of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing.
Instead, they judge John the Baptist as being demon possessed and Jesus as being a glutton and a drunkard. Neither fire and brimstone preaching (John the Baptist), nor preaching of peace, mercy, and humble service (Jesus) can stir their hearts to repentance—that is, to change their ways.
So, after preaching woe to those who are unmoved by John’s message and Jesus’ living signs of the Kingdom of God come near, Jesus turns to those who are disproportionately burdened by the political and religious systems of the day and invites them to come to him. He offers them an alternative the mental, emotional and physical labor that leaves them exhausted and depleted. To those who have been left behind and overly burdened, he turns and offers an alternative.
Join us this Sunday morning as we examine Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 and explore the theme, “What Will it Take?”
SUNDAY, July, 5, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Matthew 11: 1-15
Sermon: Forgiving the Unrighteous
We live in a time of “cancel culture.” If you are unfamiliar with the term, it generally refers to the practice of withdrawing support from companies and public figures who have said or done something offensive. It often involves group shaming on social media and the person in question losing their job and or fans, or folks refusing to buy their products or eat in their restaurants. They are “Canceled.”
While the intent of calling out harmful behavior is important… and had to happen sooner or later, it also has problematic aspects from a faith perspective. Thus far, cancel culture hasn’t figured out what happens next. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be consequences, but there does need to be some time spent figuring out what the path forward looks like. There currently seems to be no room for repentance and redemption.
As I read through our text for Sunday from Matthew 11:1-15, it raises questions about who God is and how God is at work in the world through Jesus. We are reminded that God heals, forgives, and is merciful. Just as Jesus is starting his public ministry, John the Baptist is imprisoned. After spending so much time preparing the way for Jesus, John asks the question—from prison—that is on many minds, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
Join us this Sunday morning as we examine our expectations, our hopes, and ask ourselves, “if we can live with who Jesus is,” then what does that mean for how we treat others? What does it look like for the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven? How does true repentance play a part in everything? Afterall, wasn’t that what John the Baptist came proclaiming?
SUNDAY, June 28, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Jeremiah 28: 5-9
Sermon: "Right versus Easy"
How do we know what is right? When to act? When to wait? How do we tell the difference? In all the chaos and clutter of our lives, it is sometimes hard to create the space we need to discern what comes next. This is especially true when life is changing as rapidly as it is these days.
Hopefully we have been cultivating spiritual practices that work for us all along the way, but if not, it’s never too late to start. Today is as good a day as any. Even when there isn’t a specific thing to be decided, spiritual practices help us build a foundation on which our faith is lived out.
When it comes to determining our next faithful step, one thing is certain: What is right isn’t always what is easy. In fact, what is right is often not the easy choice, especially when it comes to living out our faith. Just think of all the trials Jesus’ first disciples faced! That is why we must be looking to God for guidance to know what path to choose, how to act, and which messages to take to heart.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Jeremiah 28:5-9 and the theme “Right vs Easy.” May it be that this week we take some time to re-focus and remember the foundation on which we are called to build our lives and do our work in the world
SUNDAY, June 21, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Psalm 86
Sermon: An Undivided Heart
There are so many challenges and struggles that we face in this life, and now is no different. Our Psalm for this week is a beautiful prayer to God asking God to give the petitioner an undivided heart and strength to face the day’s challenges. May this also be our prayer each and every day! Together with God we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own.
This Psalm also reminds us of God’s steadfast love and how God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. This is a great reminder for us all.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 86 and the theme “An Undivided Heart.” May it be that this week we take some time to re-focus and remember the foundation on which we are called to build our lives and do our work in the world.
SUNDAY, June 14, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Micah 6: 6-8
Sermon: The Next Faithful Step
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Injustice is all around us. Sometimes it is easy to see, other times we can miss it because we are unaware. In light of our scripture for Sunday, the question arises: What does it look like to DO justice, LOVE kindness, and WALK humbly with God? How do we live in a way that reflects these values? Are there practical ways that we can live out our faith? What’s the next step?
Join us this Sunday as we explore Micah 6:6-8 and the theme “The Next Faithful Step.” We will also talk about the importance of remaining spiritually healthy as we learn and grow.
To give you an update, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in our county and the state, the church board made the decision to hold off on holding in-person services for the time being while we plan for what it will like to re-open in the future. We pray you are healthy and staying well.
SUNDAY, June 7, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Genesis 1: 1-2: 4a
Sermon: Living Responsibly
The creation story found in the beginning of Genesis sets out a relationship between God, creation, and human beings that is quite beautiful. As God creates each part, God looks at it and sees that it is good, and in the end, God rests. When God creates human beings, they are made equal to one another and created in the image of God.
How far humanity has strayed from this vision of the world. COVID-19 has reminded us, if we had forgotten, that we are all intricately interconnected. Now we have to choose what we do with that knowledge.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Genesis 1:1-2: 4a and the theme “Living Responsibly.” Whether it’s how we treat one another or how we treat this planet we live on, may we be open to the Spirit’s moving among us.
SUNDAY, May 31, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Acts 2: 1-21
Sermon: I will Pour Out my Spirit
This Sunday we celebrate “Pentecost.” It is often referred to in the Christian tradition as the “birth of the church” or at least the empowering of Jesus’ followers that eventually lead to the creation of the church as we know it today.
While it seems strange not to physically be together in one place like those first disciples were on Pentecost, I am convinced that it is still what we need to do to show our care for one another.
So, even as we will be gathering virtually and not physically again this week, we will celebrate the movement of the Spirit. We will celebrate the unity to which we are called. And we will celebrate that the church is more than a building.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Acts 2:1-21 and the theme “I Will Pour Out My Spirit.” A question for reflection is: What are signs these days that the Spirit of God is at work in our lives and our communities?
SUNDAY, May 24, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Lamentations 3: 17-25
Sermon: Reclaiming the Art of Lamentation
The book of lamentations was written by a people who was suffering deeply. A people struggling to understand and find God’s justice when everything was falling apart.
The Hebrew people, in this text, are expressing their grief and sorrow and questioning their understanding of how God is at work in the world. Through this process, they move from hopelessness to ultimately remembering and coming to believe anew that God is compassionate and faithful.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Lamentations 3:17-25 and the theme “Reclaiming the Art of Lamentation.”
SUNDAY, May 17, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Acts 2: 42-47
I don’t have to tell you that we are living in unprecedented times. There are many things that we are trying to figure out today that are different than anyone has ever faced. This is both an exhausting and exciting place to be, but most of all, it is an opportunity. For all the difficult and troubling news, there are also inspiring stories of people finding their life’s purpose in this pandemic. This reminds me that every trial gives us an opportunity to choose how we will live out our faith. Join us this Sunday as we explore Acts 2:42-47 and the theme “Finding Purpose in Unprecedented Times.”
SUNDAY, May 10, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: John 21: 15-19
As Christian men and women, we are taught to ask for forgiveness and listen to the still, small voice of the Lord. When we ask, Jesus answers us every time, as long as we're paying attention.
In scripture, there are many times Jesus spoke in parables, leaving some of his message to interpretation. As we will go over this Sunday, after his glorious resurrection, his words and actions remove all doubt on what to do as we follow his path.
Join us this Sunday was our very own Marques Guy helps us explore John 21:15-19.
SUNDAY, May 3, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: John 21: 1-8
Sermon: The Way Forward
Even though the disciples had experiences with the risen Christ, they didn’t yet know what they were supposed to do next. So, they did what many of us would do, they went back to what they had done before. Simon Peter declared that he was going fishing, and several others decided to join him. I can’t say that I can blame them. To be fair, fishing was what many of them had done before Jesus called them in the first place, but somehow it wasn’t the same as it had been. After fishing the whole night, their nets were still empty. Join us this week as we explore John 21:1-8 and the theme, “The Way Forward.”
SUNDAY, April 26, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: John 20:24-29
Sermon: Truth Made Real
During these difficult days, technology is offering us opportunities we would not otherwise have. We have been able to continue to gather virtually each Sunday for worship and fellowship. Each week there has been something a little different and new.
This week, it is a special guest who will be joining us virtually. Her name is Abigail Fate and she was working in Mexico as a Global Ministries Mission Co-Worker before the COVID-19 crisis began. She will be sharing with us a bit about her experience there and how it has impacted her life.
Our scripture for this week is John 20:24-29 and we will be exploring the theme, “The Truth Made Real.” This scripture passage is often referred to as the story about doubting Thomas, but if we are honest, there are times and circumstances that arise where we all need to see in order for the truth to be made real to us.
SUNDAY, April 19, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: John 20:19-22
Sermon: Easter Promises and Closed Doors
Jesus’ first disciples had heard the women’s account that Jesus was risen, but they didn’t know what to do with that information. In fact, our text for this week finds them hiding, locked inside a room together, trying to figure out what to do next.
It is there that Jesus appears to them, even though they are literally closed off from the world. Jesus appears to them in their place of fear, and the encounter leaves them with peace, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
How do we find ourselves these days? Are we afraid? Are we closed off? Wherever and however we find ourselves, the promise of Easter still comes through. Somehow God makes a way where there seems like there isn’t one.
You are invited to join us virtually as we explore John 20:19-22 and the theme, “Easter Promises and Closed Doors.”
SUNDAY, April 12, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10
Sermon: Everything Had Changed, and Yet...
Everything had changed in a matter of days. From the palm procession, to Jesus praying in the garden, to his arrest, the trial, and ultimately his crucifixion… the disciples were devastated.
Their purpose as they had understood it was gone. They had watched Jesus take his last breath. They knew that he had been placed in a tomb. They thought that was the end. So, they denied knowing him and went to hide while they figured out what was next.
On the third day, the women went to the tomb early in the morning, expecting to find his body there. Instead, the messenger told them he was not there, he was risen! What could this mean?
You are invited to join us virtually as we explore Matthew 28:1-10 and the theme, “Everything Had Changed, and Yet…”
SUNDAY, April 5, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Sermon: Loving Our Neighbor Through the Hard Times
Scripture: Matthew 22: 34-40 and Matthew 26: 36-46
We are entering into “holy week” starting on Sunday, and though things will not be like they usually are during this time, holy week is still an opportunity for remembering, self-reflection and ultimately, an invitation to imagine the world anew.
It was a strange and confusing time for Jesus’ first disciples, and these are strange and confusing days for us. As I re-read this part of Jesus’ story this week, I came across Matthew 22:34-40, where Jesus talks about the two greatest commandments.
The first, being to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The second, to love our neighbor as ourselves. As we navigate these difficult days, I began to reflect, what does it look like to love our neighbor in/through these difficult times?
You are invited to join us virtually as we explore Matthew 22:34-40 and the theme, “Loving Our Neighbor Through Hard Times.”
Please join our virtual worship this Sunday at 10am. You can stay connected with us by periodically visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) and Facebook page (@SantaPaulaFCC) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.
SUNDAY, March 29, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)
Sermon: God is Near
Scripture: Mark 4:35-41 & Psalm 34:17-19
We gathered online for worship for the first time last week. It was a new experience for many of us, and it was also good. Honestly, there have been a lot of new experiences over the past couple of weeks. Some of them good, and some not so good.
The one thing that is not new, is that God has been present with us through all of them. As we explore together this unsettling new world of being together while apart, I am reminded of the story of the storm that arose while the Disciples were on a boat with Jesus.
Whether we are feeling afraid, overwhelmed, or at peace, the reality is that we are all on a boat in the middle of a big storm. When we gather together this Sunday for worship, we will explore together the theme, “God is Near” and what it looks like for Jesus to calm the storm around us today.
Please join our virtual worship this Sunday at 10am. You can stay connected with us by periodically visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) and Facebook page (@SantaPaulaFCC) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.
SUNDAY, March 22, 2020 ---NO IN PERSON WORSHIP SERVICE
Last week, we talked about how Jesus meets us in the uncertain, fearful, dark, and difficult times in our lives, just as he was present with his disciples when they were afraid.
No matter how we find ourselves feeling these days, may we be reminded of the presence of God with us, that we are still called to be community for one another even if that looks a little different right now, and that this wilderness time will come an end.
I lament that we cannot gather together in person during this time, but trust that we can and will find ways to stay connected. We will not be having in-person services through March and will keep you posted on what happens after that.
We also can be contacted through our Facebook page (@SantaPaulaFCC), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite at 805-351-5501 to find out our latest plans for staying connected and resources for continuing to make lent meaningful during these difficult times.
SUNDAY, March 15, 2020
Sermon: Words to Live By
Scripture: Matthew 17:1-9
For the second time in the gospel of Matthew we hear the words, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased.” The first was at Jesus baptism in the Jordan River.
This time, however, some additional words were spoken directly to the disciples. The words were, “Listen to him!” Rather than being in awe at the moment, they were overcome by fear.
I am struck by the fact that we often find ourselves talking or worrying but not stopping to listen. Here Jesus was, telling them not to be afraid, not to worry, and in the next breath telling them he was going to die.
Join us this Sunday at 10 am as we explore together Matthew 17:1-9 and the theme, “Words to Live By.” In these often anxious times in which we live, what hope and assurance does this passage have to teach us?
We are located at 829 Railroad Ave, Santa Paula, CA. Services begin at 10am every Sunday. You can contact our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, directly with more questions at 805-351-5501 or JennyCrosswhite@gmail.com.
SUNDAY, March 8, 2020
Sermon: Who Do You Say I Am?
Scripture: Matthew 12:15-21
Jesus’ very presence and ministry had a different impact on people depending on where they were coming from. For the so called “religious establishment,” his ministry was controversial and challenging. For those who were struggling, suffering, outcast, ostracized, or unwelcome, his ministry offered profound hope.
I am sure there were also people somewhere in the middle of these two reactions who were not plotting against him but rather were more curious than anything else. I wonder what it would have been like for us to have been there and heard Jesus’ teaching and seen his ministry first-hand?
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we explore together Matthew 12:15-21 and the theme, “Who Do You That Say I Am?” We will examine Jesus’ ministry together and be challenged to think about who Jesus is to us, and what his ministry means for how we are to live our lives today.
SUNDAY, March 1, 2020
Sermon: Journey of the Heart
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
For the Hebrew people, the wilderness was a place of trials and temptation, but it was also the place where they encountered God. So when Jesus’ followers hear about his 40 days and nights in the wilderness, they surely would have been reminded that their ancestors spent 40 years in the wilderness.
This week, as we enter into the season of Lent, which started on Wednesday, we are invited to journey with Jesus into a time of spiritual nourishment and reflecting on where our hearts are focused. We are invited to examine our priorities and think about our own temptations and times of trial. The hope is that through it all, we will encounter God anew.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we explore together Matthew 4:1-11 and the theme, “Journey of the Heart.” We will also be invited to think about what each of us can do to make the Lenten journey meaningful for us this year.
SUNDAY, February 23, 2020
Sermon: Equally Made
Scripture: Matthew 20:1-16
If we are honest with ourselves, when we hear Jesus’ parable about the landowner who hires laborers for his vineyard, we probably react one of a couple ways. We are either overwhelmingly grateful or are outraged… or maybe we are just confused.
It all depends on who we identify with in the story. If we identify with the first laborers, we surely feel a twinge of “perceived injustice” when everyone is paid the same at the end of the day. On the other hand, if we identify with the last laborers hired, we are thankful that we were even invited into the vineyard at all.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we explore together Matthew 20:1-16 and the theme, “Equally Made.” We will be unpacking what Jesus is saying about the Kingdom of God and God’s radical, counter-cultural, counter intuitive invitation to “enter the vineyard.”
SUNDAY, February 16, 2020
Sermon: There is Freedom in Release
Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35
Jesus had made it very clear to his disciples that forgiveness was important. So Peter, wanting to makes sure things were clear, came and asked him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus went on to tell him a parable about forgiveness, mercy, and the danger of not letting go. To be clear, forgiveness does not always mean that reconciliation is possible. That being said, Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is vital.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we explore together Matthew 18:21-35 and the theme, “There is Freedom in Release.” We will talk about why forgiveness can be hard as well as why it is so important.
SUNDAY, February 9, 2020
Sermon: Gathered Together
Scripture: Matthew 14:10-14
After last week’s more easily understandable parable about the sower (Jesus did leave us with an interpretation of that one), this week we find ourselves chasing after lost sheep.
Sandwiched between a discussion of who is greatest in the Kingdom of God, where Jesus welcomes the little children to come to him and a discussion on sin, disagreements and gathering together in Jesus’ name is Matthew’s recital of the parable of the lost sheep.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we explore together Matthew 18:10-14 and the theme, “Gathered Together.”
SUNDAY, February 2, 2020
Sermon: Doing Our Part
Scripture: Matthew 13:3-9
My aunt Sheri could make anything grow. She understood plants. She understood animals. She ran a farm for many years, and no matter where she lived, she always had a garden. If there was a plant that wasn’t doing well, we knew where to take it.
Over the years I have talked with various people who, like my aunt, have worked with plants and animals more extensively than I have. Each conversation has helped me understand Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:3-9 a little better.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we explore together what it takes to cultivate lives that are fruitful and hearts that are true.
SUNDAY, January 26, 2020
Sermon: Firm Foundation
Scripture: Matthew 7:24-27
If you read the parable in Matthew 7:24-27 without its context, you might be left asking, what is Jesus talking about? What words is he referring to? What is a rock foundation? What is a sand foundation? What kind of house are we building? What are the consequences?
This parable, however, occurs at the very end of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount. Thusly, we can conclude that the words he is referring to are the very words of his sermon in which he talks about being salt and light, loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us, gives us instructions on almsgiving and oaths, prayer and forgiveness, worrying, how we treat one another, and doing the will of God.
Join us this week as we unpack the parable of the wise and foolish builders and see what practical instructions Jesus is giving us for living as children of God.
SUNDAY, January 19, 2020
Sermon: Living as Salt & Light
Scripture: Matthew 5: 13-20
One of Jesus’ most famous sermons is his Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew 5-7. Jesus begins his sermon with a great list of reversals and unexpected blessings.
It is the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted who are blessed and to whom belong the kingdom of God.
Right after this list, Jesus talks about how his disciples are (present tense) the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
As we commit ourselves to following Jesus, what does that mean for us? What does this call us to? What shall our lives look like? Join us this Sunday as we unpack this first Parable Jesus tells in Matthew’s gospel, and explore what Matthew and Jesus have to say about righteousness (Matt. 5:13-20).
SUNDAY, January 12, 2020
Sermon: Divine Encounters
Scripture: Matthew 3:11, 13-17
John the Baptist, who had a reputation as a wild rabble-rouser, who wore camel’s hair and ate wild honey, was out in the wilderness calling for the people to repent and be baptized in the Jordan River.
It’s the same river where Joshua lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan after Moses’ death. It’s the place where Elijah and Elisha crossed on dry ground, and the place where the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven, ending his earthly ministry, and the place where Elisha began his. Elisha also performed miracles at the Jordan.
The Jordan River was an ordinary place with sacred meaning, that was connected to a larger history and story. As Jesus stepped into it, he stepped symbolically into that history, his identity, and ultimately, his calling.
We will read from Matthew 3:11, 13-17 and reflect on the theme, “Divine Encounters” as we are invited to remember and reflect on our connection to a larger story and history. May we thus be compelled to seek out and notice the ordinary places around us that can become extraordinary.
SUNDAY, January 5, 2020
Sermon: A Year of Kindness
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
This Sunday we celebrate the Magi followed the stars to find the baby Jesus, bringing their gifts. Though the Magi traveled long ago, we too today are still seeking Jesus, trusting that God can and does use signs (or stars) to guide us closer to the Divine presence. As a reminder of this, we will be invited again this year to take a star in worship. Each star will have a word on it.
As 2019 has come to an end and 2020 begins, we will be invited to use this “star” word we receive to guide us into the new year, and as a way to focus.
Join us this Sunday at 10 a.m. as we read from Matthew 2:1-12 and do a little star gazing as we celebrate Christ with us in this new year. Our theme for this year’s service is “A Year of Kindness.”
SUNDAY, December 29, 2019
Sermon: Anticipating God's Blessings
Scripture: Psalm 103
As we get closer to the beginning of a new year, our tendency is to think of things we need to change, how we want to improve ourselves or eliminate some (maybe one) of our vices. Oftentimes our resolutions don't get fulfilled.
Instead, let us remember and be grateful for all of the blessings and good things God has already done for us and will continue to do. Especially in this time of year when we have just finished celebrating Christmas! May we be grateful for the birth of Christ and anticipate God's blessings in the new year.
SUNDAY, December 22, 2019
Sermon: The Way of Love
Scripture: Ruth 4:1-6, 11-22
Throughout Advent we have journeyed with Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba, three of the four grandmothers of Jesus named in the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel. This week, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, we will also remember Ruth.
Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi whose husband and both of her sons died. After all this loss, Naomi told her daughters-in-law to leave her and return to their people. Naomi thought that was the end of her journey. Out of love, Ruth refused to leave Naomi, and it is said, went on to be more to her than seven sons.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ anew this coming week, we remember that just as Ruth didn’t give up on Naomi, Jesus never gives up on us. For all the times our hearts have been weary and broken, and for all the times we have walked in dry places, may we remember that God’s love is a miracle and God doesn’t give up on us.
Join us this week as we remember Ruth and celebrate anew the birth of Jesus. We will be reading from Ruth 4:1-6, 11-22 and reflecting on the theme, “The Way of Love.”
SUNDAY, December 15, 2019
Sermon: Impossible Joy
Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:1-15, 11:26, and 12:25
While the holiday season is meant to be a time of preparation and celebration, it is often also a time of grief. A time when we remember acutely the people and opportunities we have lost, and we feel them more deeply in contrast to the joy around us.
This week, we will tell the story of Bathsheba, a woman who knew grief all too well. Bathsheba lost her husband first, and soon after her unborn child.
Yes, she went on to become one of King David’s wives, and the mother of Solomon, a most revered and wise King of Israel, but that status does not change the traumatic and tragic circumstances that lead to the death of her first husband and subsequent loss of her first child.
Join us this week as we remember Bathsheba, seek healing for our deepest most hidden pain, and trust that God can help lead our troubled hearts to joy. We will be reading from 2 Samuel 11:1-15, 11:26, and 12:25 and reflecting on the theme, “Impossible Joy.”
Services begin at 10am. We are located at 829 Railroad Ave., Santa Paula.
SUNDAY, December 8, 2019
Sermon: In Pursuit of Peace
Scripture: Joshua 2:1-24, 6:1-2, 6:25
As we continue our journey through Advent this week, we will tell the story of Rahab, named in Jesus genealogy in Matthew, as the mother of Boaz (Matt. 1:5). Rahab’s story is one we struggle to understand for many reasons.
First, Rahab was a prostitute. For some of us, we get stuck there, struggling to figure out how she can be part of Jesus’ family tree. Second, she hides the Israelite spies who later come back with an army to conquer the city in which she lives. How can those actions lead us to peace?
Join us this week as we remember Rahab, unpack biblical history, strip off harmful labels, and seek peace for all who live in troubled and frightening times or places. We will be reading from Joshua 2:1-24, 6:1-2, 6:25 and reflecting on the theme, “In Pursuit of Peace.”
SUNDAY, December 1, 2019
Sermon: Hope for the Hopeless
Scripture: Genesis 39:1-30
This Sunday, December 1, marks the start of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation, where we have the opportunity to share stories that lead us toward celebrating Jesus birth.
This year we will be sharing the stories of Jesus’ grandmothers who are listed in his genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16. This week, we will start with the story of Tamar. It is a story that might be easier to forget, but isn’t that the case with all difficult stories?
Join us this week as we remember Tamar and find hope in the fact that Jesus doesn’t forget the broken, unnoticed or unloved. We will be reading from Genesis 38:1-30 and reflecting on the theme, “Hope for the Hopeless.”
SUNDAY, November 24, 2019
Sermon: Accepting Salvation
Scripture: Hebrews 8:7-13
We as people have a large calling as people of Christ. The number one thing we are taught is to exercise patience and forgiveness with others-but we forget to extend this to ourselves.
In our daily lives, it’s hard enough finding time to do everything on our plates and still squeeze in faith time. Due to our calling, we have to flip this mentality, and always put our faith first.
Join us this week as our guest speaker, Marques Guy brings us a word from Hebrews 8:7-13, reflecting on the theme, “Accepting Salvation.”
SUNDAY, November 17, 2019
Sermon: Be Still and Know
Scripture: Psalm 40
Sometimes the storms rage (or in our case, the fires burn and the land slides off the hill), the wars continue, and life just feels like too much. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and alone.
In these moments, may we find comfort in the words from our scripture this week. May we be inspired to take time out to rest, to be still, and to know that God is still present.
Join us this week as we step back, take stock of what is important, breathe deeply, and remember that God is still present, especially in our times of trouble. We will be reading from Psalm 46 and reflecting on the theme, “Be Still and Know.”
Services begin at 10am. We are located at 829 Railroad Ave., Santa Paula. You can contact our pastor, the Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, directly with more questions at 805-351-5501 or JennyCrosswhite@gmail.com.
SUNDAY, November 10, 2019
Sermon: God of the Living
Scripture: Luke 20:27-38
Have you ever been talking with someone and realized that they were trying to “get” you? Meaning, trying to back you into a corner and get you to say something that would allow them to say, “Ha! Got ya!”
Well, that is the situation that Jesus finds himself in this week in our text from Luke 20. Jesus is confronted by a group of folks who do not believe in resurrection and are asking a legal question about the afterlife.
It’s amazing how the stories of Jesus always show him so collected and quick to think on his feet when people are challenging him. He is portrayed as always having the perfect answer. How many times have we thought later in the day, “Oh, I should have said……” in response to something someone said to us?
Join us this week as we talk about Jesus’ artful response to the Sadducees theological attack. We will also explore the problem of commodifying human beings as we unpack Luke 20:27-38 and the theme, “God of the Living.”
SUNDAY, November 3, 2019
Sermon: Kingdom Living
Scripture: Luke 6:20-36
When we look back on Jesus’ words and teaching, we find some of them to be comforting and some to make us uncomfortable. Some are challenging, and others inspirational.
In this week’s text from Luke 6, we watch as Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God in ways that are counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. Jesus sets out a framework, that he backs up with actions, that describe what kingdom-living looks like.
As we remember this week the cloud of witnesses that went before us, let us reflect together on what Luke 6:20-36 has to teach us about “Kingdom living.”
SUNDAY, October 27, 2019
Sermon: Restoration Theology
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Last week we talked about the difficult and deeply painful nature of significant transitions we face in life.
We journeyed with the Israelites in their time in exile, and the word of God that came to them to remind them not to stop living in the midst of the chaos and devastating losses they had faced.
This week, we hear the promise of God that comes to them through Jeremiah to reassure them that they have not been abandoned. There is promise for restoration in a hopeless time.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Jeremiah 31:31-34 and the theme, “Restoration Theology.”
SUNDAY, October 20, 2019
Sermon: The News We Need
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14
What is our go-to reaction when things get hard? When we don’t like the way things are going? For many of us, it’s to complain, and perhaps to whine a little bit. We come up with excuses, point fingers, and have a great time playing the blame game.
For the Israelites who were in exile (who had been forcibly removed from their home land), I’m sure there was a good deal of this. Heck, wouldn’t we likely do the same?
Yet the instructions that come from God, through Jeremiah, are quite the opposite of throwing a pity party. The instructions are to, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer. 29:7).
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 and the theme, “The News We Need.”
SUNDAY, October 13, 2019
Sermon: The Rest of the Story
Scripture: Jonah 4:1-11
The story of Jonah is fascinating for a couple of reasons. First, it very clearly raises the question, “Who are God’s people?” The simple answer is, we aren’t the ones who get to decide that.
Second, we find that it has way more depth and an ending that we likely don’t remember from Sunday School. I know I didn’t hear all of the story growing up.
Jonah’s journey started with him not wanting to go to Nineveh. In this final chapter of the saga, we find out why when Jonah tells God that he hadn’t wanted to go because, “I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.”
Isn’t that good news? Shouldn’t it be good news that God is concerned about the well-being of all people and not just some?
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Jonah 4:1-11 and the theme, “The Rest of the Story."
SUNDAY, October 6, 2019
Sermon: Perfectly Less Than Perfect
Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10
I am reminded as I sit here that God knows what’s going on and what needs to happen even when we don’t. We do our best, we research, we study, and we throw something out to the universe.
Today is one of those days when you realize that everything came together just exactly how it needed to even though you had no conscious knowledge of how perfect it would all fit together.
I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of time over the course of my life worrying about a lot of things. How I would accomplish this or that. How I would make a difference. How Things would ultimately all work out.
Today I am reminded that God is working things out all the time. Our words may be imperfect or our song a bit out of tune… but if our heart is in the right place, we will experience God’s grace and forgiveness like we cannot imagine.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Jonah 3:1-10 and the theme, “Perfectly Less than Perfect.”
SUNDAY, September 29, 2019
Sermon: Far From Smooth Sailing
Scripture: Jonah 1:1-17
Anyone who says that life is easy is likely fooling themselves. While there may be instances of people who have less tumultuous lives, the truth is that all of us face storms at some point along the way. The question is how we respond to those storms.
There are storms that are the result of our own choices, and storms we face that are caused by the choices and actions of others. The same is true with the story of Jonah.
Through this story, we are reminded of the grace of God and the importance of taking responsibility for our actions. We are also reminded that our actions can have consequences for others.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Jonah 1:1-17 and the theme, “Far From Smooth Sailing.”
SUNDAY, September 15, 2019
Sermon: Centering, Reworking, and Transforming
Scripture: Jeremiah 18:1-11
I took many wonderful classes in Seminary, but at the top of the list was the class “Clay Forms: Restorative Table Justice.” In this class, our professor wove together theology, scripture and clay in a way that made Jeremiah 18 come to life.
Prior to this experience, I had never really worked with clay, nor had I used a potter’s wheel. It always looked so effortless and beautiful in the movies… in reality, it was much more difficult, liberating, and profound than I could have imagined.
Every time something went wrong, a piece was broken, or a lesson was learned, she would gently remark, “well, that’ll preach.” It was a reminder in each class that there are lessons all around us.
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Jeremiah 18:1-11 and the theme, “Centering, Reworking, and Transforming.” Let us explore together some of the rich lessons found in clay forms.
SUNDAY, September 8, 2019
Scripture: Isaiah 29:13-24
Why do we go to church? What do we go expecting to receive? What do we go expecting to give?
What music is best to sing at church? What scriptures should we read? What creeds or prayers should we recite? Does God care?
Join us this Sunday at 10am as we study Isaiah 29:13-24 and the theme, “Worship-wise” Let us explore together why and how we worship God.
SUNDAY, September 1, 2019
Sermon: Being Known
Scripture: Psalm 139
What does it mean to be truly known? Don’t we long to have someone in our lives that knows our life story and loves us anyway? Where do we look for that love and acceptance?
What do we do when we don’t feel that love? How do we try to escape when we don’t feel fully seen? When we don’t want to be fully known?
The good the bad and the ugly, our scripture for Sunday tells us that God knows us, loves us, and invites us to ask God to search our hearts and guide us on the way forward.
Join us this Sunday as we study Psalm 139 and the theme, “Being Known.” Let us explore together our relationship with God.
SUNDAY, August 25, 2019
Sermon: Repairers of the Breach
Scripture: Isaiah 58:9b-14
We have been talking the last couple of weeks about growing good fruit, but you cannot grow good fruit if you are spiritually dry. We stand at an important point in history. A time that will be defined by how we respond, or not, to the challenges around us.
It’s time to stop pointing fingers and work to regain the moral compass of our communities and our society. Yes, it’s important to recognize how we got here, but it’s even more important to be light in the darkness.
It’s time to start rebuilding.
SUNDAY, August 18, 2019
Sermon: Keeping Our Part of the Bargain
Scripture: Isaiah 5:1-7 and John 15:1-5
Many of Jesus’ followers were well-versed in the Hebrew scriptures so when Jesus told stories and used familiar imagery, they knew what he was referencing.
Our two scriptures for Sunday are Isaiah 5:1-7 and John 15:1-5. Both talk about vineyards and growing fruit. In one, we are taught that there are grapes, and then there are “wild” grapes. In the other, we learn that in order to bear good fruit, we must abide in the vine.
The Isaiah text also reminds us that God has done and will do God’s part, but we must do our part as well. The John text reminds us again that we are not in this alone.
Life is hard and it is beautiful.
SUNDAY, August 11, 2019
Sermon: One Step at a Time
Scripture: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)
In light of all the suffering in our lives and our world, we will look this week at the words of Isaiah and how these ancient words continue to ring true today, and give us guidance for how to live our daily lives. We will explore who are the “orphans and widows,” what it means to seek justice and rescue the oppressed.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 and the theme, “One Step at a Time.” We will be encouraged to continue to explore what our worship and our relationship with God calls us to do and be in the world.
SUNDAY, August 4, 2019
Sermon: To What God Do We Turn?
Scripture: Hosea 11: 1-11
What images and metaphors do we use to describe God? What language? What difference does it make? What we worship matters. It is also important that we understand how we see and understand God because this has greater implications for how we see and understand the world. What difference does our understanding of God make when times are rough? How about when things are going well? Do we see God as a companion, a friend, or a punisher? Do we understand God to be compassionate and loving? Is there a limit to God’s forgiveness? Join us this Sunday as we explore Hosea 11:1-11 and the theme, “To What God Do We Turn?” We will be encouraged to reflect on our deeply held beliefs about God and what implications those have for our daily lives.
SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2019
Sermon: First Things First
Scripture: Colossians 1:15-28
The text for this week reminds us that above all else, Christ is the head of the church and has reconciled to himself, and holds together, all things in heaven and on earth. This includes all people and the entirety of creation.
If we truly believe that we are to put following Jesus first, above all else, especially earthly rulers, thrones and powers. If we truly believe that all are reconciled through Christ. If we truly believe that by continuing securely established and steadfast in faith, we abide in Christ.
Then this text begs the questions: What is our commission today? Who are we called to serve? How are we supposed to treat one another? How are we to care for creation? This is just the beginning of the conversation.
SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2019
Sermon: Prophets for Today
Scripture: Amos 8:1-12
The story of neglecting the poor is an age old one, but one that is as vital today as it was in Amos' time. This Sunday Daniel Sandoval will explore the lessons from Amos and how it applies for us today. Join us Sunday at 10:00 am. Larry Cossid will be providing special music and accompanying us for all congregational singing.
SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2019
Sermon: Everyday Faith
Scripture: Colossians 1:1-14
The exciting times of the church year are clearly Easter and Christmas. Church parking lots are fuller and service attendance is higher. We know that it’s important to celebrate the birth and Resurrection of Jesus, but what about the rest of the year?
The church calendar refers to the season we are in as “ordinary time.” While that sounds boring, it actually isn’t. It’s a time for study and growth.
It’s a time for tilling the soil of our spiritual lives and planting seeds of inspiration. It’s a time for praying, preparing, and learning more about how we are supposed to live out our faith in the world each and every day.
SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2019
Sermon: Grounded in Peace
Scripture: Luke 10:1-11
How do we act as we move through this world? What do we do when someone accepts us in? When they reject us? Are we grounded in peace or do we become reactionary?
When Jesus sends out the extra 70 disciples to share the good news, he gives them some fairly specific (and sometimes perplexing) instructions about how they are to proceed.
The two key points, however, are first, that they are to be grounded in peace, and second, that they are not to be reactive. When they are rejected, they are to wipe the dust off their feet and move on. That, my friends, takes grounding.
SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2019
Sermon: Words to Live By
Scripture: Galatians 5:23-26
Every day we make choices, whether we realize it or not, that impact the people around us. They may be words or actions, but they make a difference in either a positive or a negative way.
How we treat our “neighbors,” including our family and friends, and even strangers, matters. When we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we are even more likely to react without thinking and forget who and whose we are.
There are people all around us that need us to show them the love of God, and sometimes we need them to show that love to us. We can’t control how others act, but we can control how we react.
May we be people who are guided by the Spirit and whose lives are not filled with quarreling and negative comments but rather love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2019
Sermon: First Things First, Then What?
Scripture: Galatians 3:23-29
What lessons can we learn today about what it means to be people of faith, from Paul who was a Jew who went from persecuting Jesus’ followers, to being one of the most well-known and remembered evangelists for teaching people about Jesus?
Paul spends a lot of time, especially in our Scripture for Sunday, talking about how to relate to one another and see one another as equals before God when together in the community of faith. The first step is to recognize this unity and equality in the body.
The next step is to ask where this reconciling Spirit of God is calling us to grow today within the community of faith. The final step is to ask what impact this reality does or should have on the way we see and interact with the world.
SUNDAY JUNE 16, 2019
Sermon: Let's Get Practical
Scripture: Romans 12
We Christians talk a lot about Jesus and what we think it means to be His followers. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans doesn't make room for a lot of talk. He gives us some very practical ways to relate to God and people of all kinds. We will examine some of those ways this Sunday.
SUNDAY JUNE 9, 2019
Sermon: Sent Forth by the Spirit
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21
Over the past several weeks, we have been exploring together some of the stories of the early church and the ways that the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives as they prayed and sought direction.
This week we will go back and look at the experience that inspired and empowered them to go out and impact the world around them. It was an experience that turned them from an inward to an outward focus, bringing the into contact with people that spoke different languages than their own.
Join us this Sunday as we explore Acts 2:1-21 and the theme, “Sent Forth by the Spirit.” This scripture begs these questions: first, are we looking for the ways the Spirit is calling us forth? Second: do we come with ready and willing hearts for the people that God is calling us to ministry with.
SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2019
Sermon: God's Grace and Good Works
Scripture: James 2:14-17; Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 6:9
Good works aren’t bad. They are generally ‘good’! BUT, good works can be ‘not so good’ when we do good deeds, or act righteously to gain favor with God, or to impress people with our holiness. We’re not saved by these works, but by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
So if good works don’t lead to salvation, then what role do they play in the life of a disciple of Jesus?
We are made to serve God by serving people. We don’t exist for ourselves. We are God’s workmanship made for the purpose of serving him. We are not simply made to sit in the stands and watch the game of life pass by; we are made to get in the game and make a contribution to God’s work----to be a blessing to others.