Monday, August 31, 2009

You Aren't What You Eat

Here is the Wordle for this past Sunday's sermon based on Mark 7:1-23, called "You Aren't What You Eat.

This is my first sermon back after two weeks of vacation, thus the lack of blog entries for the past fortnight. But I'm back in town and back in the pulpit so you can expect a steady diet of new sermons on Sunday and new Wordles on Monday!

As always, you can find the full manuscript available on the church's website, here. And if you want to see the fullsized Wordle then just click on the image below.

I've been thinking about...

The Justice and Witness Listening Sessions.

The Justice and Witness Committee of the Southwest Conference is completely revitalizing. I’m not just saying that because I’m a part of the committee! Though, to be honest, it is exciting to see and be a part of.

No, I’m saying that because there is renewed energy and enthusiasm not only among members of the committee, but in our churches and amongst our church members as well.

You’ll remember that there was a Justice and Witness Summit back in February — a two day event to help churches and church leaders refocus our historic UCC commitments to justice. From that two-day event a new plan emerged. The Justice and Witness Committee asked that each congregation in the Southwest Conference (all 44 of us!) host a 1-hour Listening Session, where members of the Justice and Witness Committee could hear all of the exciting things that we are up to and about here at the Encanto Community Church AND so that they could hear the things that we are passionate about. It is a “Listening Session” because they are coming to listen to us.

On Sunday August 16th I helped to facilitate one such Listening Session at South Mountain Community Church. South Mountain is a small, aging UCC congregation in South Phoenix. But they are up to some amazing things! The hour flew by quickly and there were still more things to share and say! It was empowering for members of the congregation AND for those of us from the Justice and Witness Committee.

Here at Encanto we’ll be hosting our Listening Session on Sunday September 20, after worship. Please join us, and add your voice to the good work of justice in our church!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bread of Life Wordle

Here is the Wordle from this past Sunday's "Bread of Life" sermon. For the full manuscript, click here. For the fullsize image, just click on the picture.

I've been thinking about...

...Three-hour time changes, 35-degree temperature jumps, and a distinct lack of Steak ’N Shake franchise locations.

Which is to say, I’ve been thinking about coming home to Phoenix from my 5-day stay in Indianapolis, IN.

I was in Indianapolis for the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is the every-other-year national gathering of my “other denomination.” You see, I was raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I attended Disciples schools as an undergrad and a seminarian, and I was ordained by the Disciples too.

Yet, since my ordination, I have only served UCC churches! That is possible because of the unique partnership and historic relationships that the DoC and the UCC share. Both denominations pride themselves on Christian unity and ecumenical zeal. So we share — local pastors, overseas missions, even some global relief efforts and national structures.
I’ve joked for years that one glorious day the UCC and the DoC will finally follow through on our commitments to “unity as our polar star” by merging into one church. In which case we can finally get rid of our jumbled mouthfuls of names — the United Church of Christ is always confused with the southern, evangelical, ultra-conservative Church of Christ, and the Disciples have parenthesis in their name! — and as we adopt a more appropriate moniker: the United Christian Church.

Alas, that glorious day still seems far away. It wasn’t a topic of conversation at the General Assembly in Indy. But there was plenty of good work on the topic of church revitalization (a passion in the DoC and UCC). I look forward to sharing some of the highlights of that trip with you, as we share in the good work of being the people of God alive and at work right here in Phoenix. Even if we don’t have a double chocolate fudge shake from Steak ‘N Shake to help keep us cool in the summertime!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian