Thursday, December 23, 2010

Newsbrief: Christmas Eve

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem…

Come away with us this Friday at 7PM for our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service.

Come to be swept away by story and song as we journey together through worship to a lowly manger outside of an inn with no room; the place of humble esteem where Jesus Christ was born.

We will celebrate together the promises of God that have been fulfilled, the birth of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, the amazing gift of God’s love made known to all of creation.

Help us to light a candle against the darkness and reaffirm once more that Christ is the light of the world and that the darkness will not overcome the glory of his holy name.

This is a time for celebration. It is a time for singing and storytelling. It is a time for receiving the most amazing gift we can ever imagine. It is, in short, a time for worship.

Come and join us this Friday at 7PM in the Sanctuary for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Everyone is invited!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newsbrief: Last Minute Gift Ideas

As many of you know, my youngest sister Sarah is moving to Barcelona, Spain in the New Year.

This is very exciting for her and her husband (and pretty exciting news for us too; we’re already planning our first summer vacation in Europe to visit them!). But it does make Christmas shopping tricky.

It wasn’t that long ago that I had to pack up all my belongings and move across the country. That was a big enough pain! I simply cannot imagine going through the same process but adding the difficulty of either getting it across the ocean, packing it away in storage for 36-months, or just giving stuff away to whoever will take it.

So I wasn’t surprised when my sister said she didn’t want “anymore stuff” this Christmas. I pleasantly surprised, though, when asked me, “Have you ever heard of those places that will send little chicks to villages in the developing world? I’d like somebody to do that for me for Christmas.”

Have I ever heard of them? Have I ever! One of my best friends in seminary spent two years working for Heifer International. The youth group at the last church I served had a tradition of saving up all year long in order to buy service animals for folks across the globe, and even proudly displayed pictures in their youth lounge representing the scores of animals they had sent all over the world.

Heifer is one of my favorite charitable organizations and their Gift Catalog is available online. With a single, secure click on their webpage you can send a family or a community the gift of sustainability.

Not to ruin the surprise (on the off chance that my sister is reading along on the church blog) but I made a donation in Sarah’s name for the “Flock of Hope”. For a donation of $60 “the Flock of Hope will include chicks, ducklings and goslings that will grow up to lay precious eggs that mean hope and increasing health and prosperity for hungry families from the Philippines to Rwanda.”

Church World Service has a similar program with their Best Gift Catalog where you can donate towards chicks, cows, medications, hygiene kits, school supplies, wells, mosquito nets and more.

They make great last minute gifts that make a real difference in the world!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Newsbrief: That one pink candle...

The question always comes this time of year. “Why is there one pink candle in the Advent Wreath?”

The first time a church member asked me that question I stuttered and stammered my way through a lackluster answer, and in the process mistook the third Sunday of Advent as the Day of Love rather than the Day of Joy. I finally concluded my rambling remarks by saying, “You know what? I don’t really know.”

I’ve been researching the answer ever since and I’ve learned two things: 1) I’m not the only one who goofs up an answer explaining the candles! 2) Everyone has a different explanation, which is just a gentle way of saying, “Nobody really knows.”

The Advent Wreath itself is a Germanic tradition that seems to be a pre-Christian one that early followers of Christ adopted and transformed for their own liturgical use. As such, the green of the wreath came to symbolize the eternal nature of God. The purple candles signify the royalty of Christ as well as our own penitence in preparing for the coming of Jesus. And the pink signifies joy…unless of course it signifies, love!  It turns out, some churches light the pink candle on the third Sunday to symbolize joy, some light it on the fourth Sunday to symbolize love. Are you thoroughly confused yet? Well just wait!

There is a popular story about how the Pope used to give out a pink rose on the third Sunday of Lent as a reminder that Lent would eventually end. Somehow that tradition was transposed to Advent and we’ve had one pink candle ever since. I’m not sure I buy the story, but it leads us down the road to an answer…even if it is my least favorite answer to any question. “Why do we do it? Because we’ve always done it that way.”

FCC Scottsdale has the tradition of lighting a pink candle on the Third Sunday of Advent, which is this coming Sunday. We’ll celebrate it as the Day of Joy and we will rejoice at God’s promises that have been fulfilled and the blessings that are yet to come. It is going to be a great worship service and I look forward to seeing you there.

Oh, and in case things aren’t confusing enough, the current Pope has been using four red candles in his wreath for the past several years. When asked about his color choice he said simply, “I like red.” So there you go.

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hanging of the Greens

This past Saturday the church was buzzing with volunteers making all things beautiful! Many thanks to the teams of volunteers for all you help in fluffing and hanging and decorating and lighting in the name of making our church ready the holiday season!

Come and join us throughout December to see how the place looks!

Here are a couple of photos of everyone hard at work.

 The Advent Center Piece.

Carrie and Sandi showing the banners who is boss.

 Al and Nancy work on one side of the choir loft...

 ...and Mark and Bob work on the other.

 Jan and Nancy fluffing up the garland.

Jeanne and June and Morgan putting chrismons on the tree.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Newsbrief: Advent!

I’m warning you in advance, it is going to sound funny when I say it this Sunday.

But I’m going to say it anyway. In fact, I’m going to practice right now. Are you ready? Here we go…


See, it sounds funny, right? After all, we know that this Sunday is the last one in November, not the first day of January. So why would I start worship this coming Sunday morning by bellowing out, “Happy New Year!”

Well, it is because this coming Sunday is the start of a new year for us in the church. At least, it is a new year in our worship cycle.

You see, at FCC Scottsdale (like so many other churches) we follow the Liturgical Calendar which assigns certain church events to certain days and designates particular scripture readings for each Sunday service. With the Liturgical Calendar the church year doesn’t start with Christmas or Easter or Pentecost. The Liturgical Year doesn’t start with January 1 or the first day of School either. The Liturgical Calendar Year starts with the First Sunday of Advent -- the season of anticipation and expectation where we as a church prepare ourselves all over again to welcome Christ into our hearts and into our world. And this coming Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent!

We’ll spend the next four Sundays preparing ourselves for the miracle of Christmas. We’ll celebrate the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. And it all starts this coming Sunday! Happy New Year, church! I’ll you see on Sunday morning!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Monday, November 22, 2010

Three Things from Administrative Council

The Administrative Council met this past Sunday immediately after worship for their final meeting of 2010. Here are the three things you need to know from that meeting:

  1. We have a full slate of Nominees to fill all available positions for 2011! Big thanks to Bob Bruns, Jan Atkinson, and Nancy Fasolino (our Nominating Committee) for all of your hard work in filling those spots. The Slate of Nominees will be formally presented and voted on at our Annual Meeting on Sunday December 5, 2010.
  2. We have a preliminary budget for 2011! Lots of forward looking planning happened at this Council Meeting, none more important than our Treasurer's Report on the 2011 Budget. Things look good on this front, and we may even end up with a planned surplus...but lets not put the cart before the horse! Here to, the 2011 Budget will be formally presented and voted on at our Annual Meeting on Sunday December 5, 2010.

  3. A Youth Scholarship Policy was formally adopted by the Council. Administrative Council has the policy making authority in the life of the church, and we adopted a new policy regarding camp scholarships for our children and youth. Our youth have been briefed on the changes throughout the process, and copies of the new policy will go out with the first round of camp forms!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Newsbrief: Celebrate Consecration Sunday

Come to the celebration!

This Sunday we will complete our Stewardship Campaign with Consecration Sunday!

Over the past month we have lifted up the themes that define us at First Christian Church Scottsdale (Generosity, Faithfulness, Outreach) and now it is time to celebrate!

For Consecration Sunday here is my promise to you: No guilt trips, no scary stories about budget deficits, not one reference to the state of the economy. Instead, we are going to spend the morning celebrating the ways God has blessed us this past year and eagerly anticipating all that God has in store for us in the coming year.

Please join us this Sunday for this special worship service…and don’t forget your pledge card! Your pledge card represents the sacred promises you are making to support our church with your time, talent, and treasure in the coming year. Those pledges are an important part of our future. They are worth celebrating too! So we will dedicate all of our pledge cards to God’s work and witness among us and through us in the coming year.

It is going to be a great Sunday! I’ll see you at worship!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walking the Walk

First Christian Church Scottsdale had a remarkably successful time at the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk this past Sunday. We had 23 Walkers, raised over $1600 for Church World Service, and packed our sanctuary with folks wearing Tennis Shoes as a sign of support.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make our CROP Walk efforts so very successful! Even thought he walk is now behind us, it is not to late to donate! Click here to go to our FCC Scottsdale CROP Walk page, where you can donate online.

Here are some pictures of our CROP Walkers in action at El Dorado Park.

FCC folks walking the walk to end hunger one step at a time.

Gabe, Brooke, me, Carol, Michelle, Katie, and Nicole at the finish line.

Bob and Emily and Brayden at the halfway point.

Judy and Eric hamming it up.

Lea, Carol, Michelle, and Kaite celebrating a successful CROP Walk.

(Not pictured: Al Beasley, who provided the music before the CROP Hunger Walk. If you have a picture of Al please send it to me so that I can include it here. Thanks for your help, Al!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Newsbrief: Bring Your Tennis Shoes!

I'm coming to church with my tennis shoes on this Sunday.

And I hope you will too!

I’m coming to church with my tennis shoes on, because this Sunday is the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk which supports Church World Service’s work to eradicate global hunger one step at a time.


During our worship service on Sunday we’ll recognize all of our walkers and offer a special prayer to commission them before they head to El Dorado Park for the walk. We have about a dozen walkers signed up so far, and it is not to late to join them!

If you can’t walk, then there are two things you can do to support our CROP Walkers. The first one is to come to church with your tennis shoes on. It might seem like a funny fashion statement (I’ll be wearing mine with suit, robe, and stole on!) but it is a great way of standing in solidarity with our CROP Walkers and with everyone throughout the world who benefits from the work of Church World Service.

The second thing you can do to support our CROP Walkers is to sponsor them. As a church we’ve been given a goal of $2000 to fundraise for Church World Service through the CROP Walk. Can you help us not only reach that goal but exceed it? We’ll be collecting donations after the worship service or you can give online at our church’s own CROP Walk Page by clicking here. The website gives you a secure, online way of giving (and it accepts credit card donations!) or you can donate via cash or check on Sunday.

Thank you to all of our Walkers! Thank you to everyone who has already given and everyone will donate! Thank you to everyone who supports this important ministry! I’ll see you all this Sunday…with tennis shoes on!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Visual Catch-Up

No Blog posts for awhile. Sorry about that! I was out of town for a bit, busy getting things together, and fell out of the habit. But have no fear, the good work at FCC Scottsdale has continued!

Here are some images and stories from what we've been up to at First Christian Church since my last blog post...

The Pumpkin Patch was a HUGE success. Thanks to all the hardwork of our tireless volunteers we totaled $9322 in pumpkin sales! That made for a profit of $3104.23 and we received another $962.07 in donations. That is $4066.40 raised for FCC Mission Projects! Great job done by all!!

I enjoyed a week of vacation in St. Louis, Missouri where my wife's brother was married at the Jewel Box (pictured above). It was a lovely ceremony and great to be with some much family and friends for the week. During my time away the Rev. Vy Nguyen filled the pulpit and preached about the upcoming CROP Hunger Walk. You can support FCC Scottsdale's efforts to end hunger one step at a time by clicking here to donate to support our CROP Walkers!

We also hosted our first ever (First Annual?) Trunk-or-Treat Event in the church parking lot. That is your's truly's Red Prius all decked out for Halloween care of the youth group. We also had...

 ...amazing entries from Monica Case!
 ...and Kim Redhage!
...and Jan Atkinson!

One more really exciting thing happened since my last blog post: FCC Scottsdale received the award as the 2009 Arizona Highest Per Capita Giver to Disciples Mission Fund. Which is amazing! And hopefully the start of several years in a row where we can set the bar for giving to our denomination!

Thanks to everyone who helped to make Trunk-or-Treating and the Pumpkin Patch and the CROP Hunger Walk and our DMF giving so successful! Stay tuned for more blog posts on the continued successes at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Newsbrief: The Pumpkin Patch

Here is a before and after question for you.

How do you get from this… this! 

It turns out the answer is: With the help of SEVENTY-ONE extraordinary volunteers!

In case you haven’t noticed (and how could you not notice?!?) the pumpkins are here! The Pumpkin Patch looks great, our church members have been doing a terrific job taking shifts at the sales table, and our annual mission fundraiser is off and running.

It would not have been possible without the help of 71 volunteers who showed up early this past Saturday morning to help us unload. It was the biggest crew of workers anyone could remember, and they made short work out of a tough job. We were able to unload 1164 pumpkins from the truck…and we did it in just about an hour!

Thank you to everyone who helped out (and for everyone who brought a friend or two or fifteen to help!). Thank you to everyone working the sales table. Thanks to Jan and Julie and Nancy for all of their hard work behind the scenes organizing everything.

Stop by sometime to see it…or to work it…or to buy a pumpkin (or two or fifteen!). Our share goes to underwrite our missions budget, so it couldn’t go to a better cause!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What is Missing?

Only two things are missing from this picture. The PUMPKINS and YOU!

The Pumpkin Patch is all set up and ready to go (care of the hard working team of volunteers that showed up for Workday this past Saturday). Now we just need folks to help us unload the 1164 pumpkins that will fill up the patch!

Come join us this Saturday at 9AM to help us unload the truck. Remember, the proceeds from the Pumpkin Patch go to support our Annual Mission Trip. There couldn't be a better cause!

So come unload some pumpkins, fill up our Pumpkin Patch, and help us underwrite our Mission Work as a church!

As an added bonus we'll have a Pizza Luncheon afterward for everyone who helps out! See you this Saturday, October 9 at 9AM!

Newsbrief: Thank You!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

I simply can’t say it enough. Thank you all for being a part of the Installation Service this past Sunday. It was an amazing service, a highlight of my life, and something that will keep a smile on my face for a long long time.

Thank you to everyone who helped set up tables and chairs and food trays and decorations for the reception. Thank you to the Worship Committee and Decorating Crew for the beautiful display in the sanctuary and all the hard work they put in behind the scenes to make it happen. Thank you to the Elders for helping me craft the service. Thank you to Bob Bruns for running the SongShow Presentation in a completely different service. Thank you to Bob Stall and Michelle Launderville for so beautifully describing the process that brought us together. Thank you to the Rev. Judy Stall for introducing my good friend the Rev. Eric Smith who brought us a powerful sermon about what challenges and opportunities lay ahead for us. Thank you to the DWM for hosting and arranging the reception. Thank you to everyone who was in attendance and for all those others who were with us in spirit!

It is a great joy to be your pastor at First Christian Church Scottsdale and now that it is formal and official lets keep up the good work! I hope to see you all this Saturday at 9AM as we unload all the pumpkins that will fill our Pumpkin Patch. Then this coming Sunday I’ll see you in my office right after worship for the Mission Trip Meeting. While you are on your way over to that meeting, don’t forget to sign-up for the CROP Walk, we’ll begin those registrations this Sunday.

We had a great celebration on Sunday! May the energy and enthusiasm from that event carry us through and lead the way for the wonderful things that God has in store for us!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

p.s. If you have any photos from the Installation Service, I’d love to have a digital copy of them. This is a picture of me with the Leung Family (members of my wife’s church) right after the service when they gifted me with a new stole. Thanks for sharing your pictures with me!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Newsbrief: The Installation is Coming!


At long last, the Installation Service is almost here! It is going to be a wonderful celebration of our ministry together at First Christian Church Scottsdale! There is going to be fabulous music, inspired preaching, guests from all over the state (and all over the country!), and YOU ARE INVITED!

I hope you will be able to be with us this Sunday afternoon at 4PM in the Sanctuary for the Installation Service. Folks have been working hard behind the scenes for some time now to make it all come together, and I am forever grateful to them. Now it is time to come and celebrate!

I’d write more, but we are busy getting everything in place for the Installation (and for the World Communion Sunday celebration at the 10:15 AM service!). So how about a sneak peak at the Keith Haring image that we’ll be using as our centerpiece for the Installation instead!

Looks pretty good, eh? Makes you wanna come out and see what the Installation is all  about. I’ll see on Sunday!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inviting Everyone: Installation Service!

First Christian Church Scottsdale is overjoyed to invite you to a special worship service celebrating the Installation of our new Senior Minister, the Rev. Brian Frederick-Gray!

Please join us on Sunday October 3, 2010 at 4PM for the Service of Installation with a reception to follow.

Clergy please wear a robe with red stole and plan on processing in together at the beginning of the service.

Thank you for being a part of our celebration at FCC Scottsdale. You’ll find directions to the church by clicking here. We look forward to welcoming you on Sunday October 3 at 4PM!

“A Christ-centered community inviting everyone to seek and celebrate God’s love through joyful worship, mission, and ministry!”

Newsbrief: World Communion Sunday

Habari, bwana! Habari, bibi!

Buenos días!

Malo e tau ma'u 'a e 'aho' ni!

That is how you say “Hello” in French, Arabic, Swahili, Korean, Spanish, and Tongan.

It is also how I am going invite you to participate in our worship service on Sunday October 3 (please note: that is not this Sunday, but the Sunday after).

You see, October 3 is World Communion Sunday. It is that one Sunday in the year when Christians all throughout the world gather in their own unique and distinct ways in order to celebrate the unity that we have in Christ by sharing the bread and the cup of Holy Communion.

If those themes sounds familiar (unity, celebration, Christ, Holy Communion) they should, because are the characteristics that best define us as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Which is why I have always considered World Communion Sunday one of the highest of high holy days for the Disciples!

So we are going to celebrate World Communion Sunday in some special ways on October 3. We’ll have a beautiful set up in the front of the sanctuary care of our Decorating Committee. We’ll celebrate communion in a familiar, though different style. And we’ll also hear the Lord’s Prayer offered in many different languages.

Which is where I need your help. If you are comfortable reading in a foreign language (French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Sign Language, Koine Greek, whatever) and would be willing to participate in an amazing way in our worship service on October 3 then let me know. I have copies of the Lord’s Prayer in as many languages as you can think of, so you won’t have to translate it, simply read it out loud during Sunday morning worship.

(As a side note: The other important thing happening on Sunday October 3 is my Installation Service at 4PM. I’m thrilled to be installed as Senior Pastor at First Christian Church Scottsdale, and the fact that we’re doing it on World Communion Sunday is just icing on the cake for me. Hope you can join us for both services on October 3.)

Au revoir! Ma as-salaamah! Kwaherini! Annyong-hi kashipshio! Hasta luego! Po'uli!
Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 Things from Administrative Council

The Administrative Council at FCC Scottsdale met on Sunday September 19 for their regularly scheduled meeting. Here are the three things you need to know from that meeting:

  1. Our Outreach Program is off and running. We heard an enthusiastic report on the goings on from "We Serve" (aka our Outreach Ministries). Click here to check out their page on our website for a full listing of events including the After School Program, the Pumpkin Patch, and more!
  2. We have some new dates to share for upcoming October events. In addition to the things you've heard about over and over again (World Communion Sunday, the Installation Service, the Rev. Vy Nguyen's guest sermon) we have new dates for you:
    -- Mission Trip Meeting Sunday October 10 after worship. Come join us to talk over options for our 2011 Mission Trip.
    -- Trunk or Treat Celebration on October 31. DWM will sponsor a Trunk or Treat event in the church parking lot on Halloween afternoon. Never heard of Trunk or Treat? Well, it is just like Trick or Treat, only we do it in a safe place here in the church parking lot. More details to come!
  3. Stewardship is coming! In the coming weeks we'll be launching our annual stewardship campaign in order to make sure that we can fully support the mission and ministry that FCC Scottsdale is called to.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Newsbrief: Prayer Shawl Sunday

{Editors Note: In my continued efforts to keep folks informed about what is going on at the church, I've decided to publish my weekly "Newsbrief" articles here on the blog. The "Newsbrief" is our weekly e-newsletter at FCC Scottsdale, and if you would to subscribe to it, you can find the link at the bottom of this post.}

I need your help this Sunday.

Truth is, I need your help every Sunday. We simply couldn’t pull off a worship service with you!

But this Sunday in particular I have a favor to ask.

You see, this Sunday we celebrate a major milestone in the life of one of our ministries at FCC Scottsdale. Our very own Prayer Shawl Ministry has distributed over 200 prayer shawls, and we are going to celebrate by dedicating this Sunday as Prayer Shawl Sunday!

We’ll hear the story of our Prayer Shawl Ministry! We’ll celebrate God’s amazing gift of prayer! And we will charge our noble knitters to keep up the good work!

So here is where I need your help. If you are one of the members of this church who has received a prayer shawl, please bring it with you to worship on Sunday. Feel free to wear it or simply bring it with you to worship (I’ll be wearing mine, a beautiful orange one that Kay Jones presented me on my first day as your pastor!). We want to show off the full force of this ministry and demonstrate its significance in the life of our church – and what better way to do that than to have a sea of prayer shawls flooding our sanctuary with color!

We will also be gifting the Prayer Shawl Ministry with gift bags that they will fill with future prayer shawls. Please bring a gift bag on Sunday so that we can get our knitters fully equipped for the next 200 prayer shawls! In so doing, you will literally be giving the gift that will carry our prayers to folks when they need them the most.

I’ll see you Sunday, and don’t forget: Bring your prayer shawl and bring a gift bag. I’ll see you there! I’ll be the guy up front…with the orange prayer shawl on!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

{The "Newsbrief" is our weekly e-newsletter at FCC Scottsdale. If you would to subscribe to it, then click here.}

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Work Day!

You know what simply HAS to proceed any good Kick-Off Sunday?

Work Day, of course!

Lucky for us, FCC Scottsdale has plenty of committed, hard working folks willing to give up part of a Saturday morning each month (you know, once the weather cools off a little...which should happen any day now, right?) in order to help keep our church grounds looking great.

Here are some action shots from Work Day, September 11, 2010:

Don, our fearless leader (and keeper of the list of projects for the day) hard at work

Dave repainting the handrails leading up to the Sanctuary

Barry doing...well, I'll just let you insert your own punchline here!
Scott cleaning up the roof of the Education Building (thus proving that the newly installed ladder actually all we need is a fireman's pole to help folks get down quicker!)

Jim raking up after one of our many olive trees
Thanks to everyone who participated in work day (both those pictured and those who weren't!). We hope more folks will join us for the next Work Day on Saturday October 2 at 8AM. See you there...and don't forget your work gloves!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three Things from the Elders

The Elders met on Wednesday evening at 5:30 in the library for their regularly scheduled meeting. Here are the three things you need to know from the Elders:

  1. The worship service will be slightly tweaked this coming Sunday. Same for the printed bulletin on Sunday morning. Nothing major, just a few small changes here and there. For starters, we'll be reintroducing the prayer of dedication for the offering. We'll also be introducing a "take home page" in the Sunday Bulletin. To put it together we've shuffled a couple of items in the Bulletin, but hopefully it makes the whole thing more readable for everyone, more usable for our members, and more inviting to our guests and visitors!
  2. My Installation Service is fast approaching! In fact, several significant announcements on that front: The Rev. Eric Smith (one of my best friends and closest colleagues) has agreed to come in as our guest preacher for the Installation. Eric is a PhD student at the Illiff School of Theology in Denver, the Associate Minister at Plymouth Congregational Church (a large UCC congregation), an ordained Disciples pastor, and a great preacher! I'm thrilled that he'll be with us. We also have a set time for the Installation, so please plan on joining us Sunday October 3 at 4PM in the Sanctuary with a reception to follow (that is the other big news, the menu has been set for the reception and it is going to be delicious!).
  3. In celebration of the 200+ prayer shawls that our ladies have knitted and given away we are dedicating Sunday September 19 as Prayer Shawl Sunday! Please plan on joining us for worship that morning, and if you have received a prayer shawl then bring it with you! We'll rededicate all of the prayer shawls, celebrate this vibrant ministry in our church, and give God thanks for the holy gift of prayer. And don't forget to bring a gift bag to donate to the ministry, so that your gifts can literally carry the prayers of our congregation to those folks who need them the most.
We're cheating a little bit here, but if I don't number it then it doesn't have to count as a "Fourth Thing" in our "Three Things from the Elders". We want everyone to know that we looking for new Elders! We will have four openings available starting in 2011 and have already started to review names. If you are interested, or if you have somebody in mind who you think fits the role as a spiritual leader in our congregation then let us know!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Three Things from the Worship Committee

The Worship Committee had a brief meeting in my office on Sunday September 5 to plan for all the amazing worship services we'll be having in the coming weeks at FCC Scottsdale. Here are the Three Things you need to know from that meeting:

  1. Kick-Off Sunday is coming! We are going to recognize Sunday September 12 as Kick-Off Sunday and use it to celebrate the formal start of our Fall Program Year! You are not going to want to miss it! We'll dedicate and bless all of our Fellowship Groups, Sunday School Classes, and Outreach Projects that are kicking back off after the summer hiatus. Come and join us!
  2. October 3 is going to be HUGE! "How huge?" you ask. So huge that we'll need two worship services just to contain it all! At our regular 10:15AM Worship Service we will celebrate World Communion Sunday (one of the highest of high holy days for us as Disciples) and then we'll reconvene in the afternoon for my Installation Service. Both services are going to be great and I can't wait to celebrate them...on the same day!
  3. We're going to see if you are paying attention... In conjunction with Kick-Off Sunday we are going to usher in a few small tweaks to the regular Sunday Order of Service and our printed materials for the Bulletin. Don't worry, nothing too radical. In fact, we're sure you are going to love them. You know, if you even notice them!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lunch with a friend

Today I had lunch with my friend, the Rev. Vy Nguyen. He's an ordained Disciples pastor, a fellow TCU grad, and a product of "the other" Disciples Divinity House (he's a University of Chicago guy, I'm fromVanderbilt!).

Vy is the Assistant Regional Director for Church World Services. That means he is THE GUY who oversees CROP Hunger Walks for Arizona, Northern Nevada, and Northern California.

Vy also happens to be one of the very first people that I told I was coming to serve as your pastor at First Christian Church Scottsdale. At the time he replied, "Well, we'll get to measure your success as a pastor based on how many people you can turn out for the CROP Hunger Walk on November 14!" (Did I mention Vy is very good at his job? He is. The man knows how to turn out a crowd for a CROP Hunger Walk!)

Vy is in town helping to set up CROP Hunger Walks throughout central Arizona in order to raise funds for Church World Services. CWS works with partners like the Disciples of Christ and other Christian communities to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world. CROP Hunger Walks are one of the major ways that they raise funds to accomplish this marvelous mission.

Over lunch today Vy formally accepted my invitation to fill our pulpit on Sunday October 24. I then quickly bought him lunch to say thanks! I will be attending a family wedding that weekend, so Vy will fill the pulpit, preach up a storm, and get us all charged up for the CROP Hunger Walk.

Katie Newton and Sarah Dale are our coordinators at FCC Scottsdale for the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk. You can look for lots more details and information in the coming weeks, and you'll get to hear all about the program from my friend the Rev. Vy Nguyen in October. And remember, Vy's measurement of my success as your pastor is hanging in the balance lets get a HUGE group of folks out there for the CROP Hunger Walk on November 14!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pastor Rep Breakfast

So this past Sunday I preached about Sabbath and told everyone about how my wife, son, and I all spend Monday together as our sacred time to rest. What happened the very next day? The very first Monday after my big Sabbath sermon?

I went to work really early that Monday morning!

I know, I know. I can hear you all saying, "Pastor, you've gotta practice what you preach!" And in general, I do. No really!

It is just that this past Monday morning was the Arizona Region Pastor-Rep Breakfast, and it was simply to important of an event for me to miss (and for the record, after I got home Susan, Henry, and I enjoyed a nice full day off together complete with trips to the Splash Pad and an afternoon swim with the neighbor kids; great way to recharge my batteries and restore my soul).

For folks who don't know, Pastor-Rep Meetings happen twice a year here in Arizona. It is a chance for the pastors and representatives from of our local Disciples churches (thus the name Pastor-Rep!) to get together and share with one another. You can learn more by visiting the Region's Pastor-Rep website by clicking here.

Bob Bruns and I attended representing FCC Scottsdale. It was nice to celebrate so many of the achievements of our brothers and sisters in the faith, brag up our church a little bit, and share some of the important dates in the Region with each other.

As I am prone to doing, I came up with three things you need to know from that meeting!
  1.  Regional Assembly is coming! You'll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming weeks. We have the opportunity to send at least NINE voting delegates to represent us at Regional Assembly October 22-23 at Sun City Christian Church. Click here for more details and contact me if you would like to attend.
  2. We need pictures! As part of the program at Regional Assembly each church is invited to submit FIVE digital photos of "the church doing the work of transformation in the world." Which means we need photos. Do you pics from the last Mexico Mission Trip, the After School Program, a Church Work Day? Then please share them with us in the church office!
  3. Save the Dates for Youth Events! Fall Retreat will be in Tucson from October 30-31 for Chi Rho and CYF. Spring Retreat will be in Phoenix from February 12-13 for CCF, Chi Rho, and CYF. Locations and further details to be determined.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mighty Casey

The Mighty Casey
This past Sunday my sermon was titled "Faith (part 2)" and for folks who weren't there, yes the previous Sunday's sermon was called "Faith (part 1)". It is the first time I've done anything as gimmicky as split a sermon in half and told people if they wanted to know how it ended then they needed to come back the following Sunday!

I started off "Faith (part 1)" by reading Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic poem "Casey at the Bat" in its entirety. If you don’t know the story of “Casey at the Bat” or if you are just feeling sentimental then you can find Disney’s 1946 cartoon version on YouTube by clicking here.

The poem has surprising things to tell us about faith and gave me the chance to ask if anyone had ever felt like Casey. Or like Flynn stranded at third. Or Jimmy Blake stuck on second. Or the Mudville Nine unexpectedly defeated on the last day of the season.

In "Faith (part 2)" I ended the sermon by saying that our scriptures remind us time and time again that the story doesn't end where we think it might. Resurrection is possible. Grace is always reaching out to us. New life is just around the corner. And then I closed the sermon by reading "Casey at the Bat (reprise)".

Plenty of folks have asked me for a copy of the poem. And just as many people want to know where it came from. The most common guesses are that Ernest Lawrence Thayer (the author of the original poem) wrote it, or that I did. Neither one is right.

The truth is a bit zanier, really.

It was written several years ago to be a part of a national advertising campaign called "The Strolling Man." The series of ads would show a cartoon mascot strolling leisurely through revisioned endings of classic stories.

“Casey at the Bat (reprise)” ran as a full-page ad in ESPN: The Magazine (which I subscribe to and read each edition cover to cover). I clipped out the strolling man ad and saved it in my “future sermon ideas” file.

The advertising campaign didn’t take off, thought, and was eventually canceled. The company has scrubbed all references to it and you can't find it anywhere on the web.

That company? Johnnie Walker Scotch Whiskey! 

I’ve been all to happy re-purpose their forgotten ad campaign and use “Casey at the Bat (reprise)” to talk about faith. Here is the poem:

The last we heard of Casey, he’d made 5,000 faces pout,
For with the season on the line The Mighty Casey had struck out.
The manager was furious, he sent Casey to the farm,
There ‘The Mighty Casey’ could do the club no harm.

Casey sank into depression – he could hardly play the game,
The fans and players taunted him, when the announcer called his name.
Casey’s batting average plummeted, soon his eyes had lost their spark,
No one could remember, last time he’d hit one out of the park.

Then one day when all looked bleak, and Casey’s hope began to fade,
He heard a voice inside him, reminding Casey why he played.
He dug his heels in deeper, and worked his body nearly broke.
And then one day it happened: The Mighty Casey found his stroke.

Meanwhile back in Mudville, headlines screamed of a pennant race,
But the home team lacked a Slugger, Casey hadn’t been replaced.
‘Twas on the eve of the final game, when Casey got the call,
The desperate boss of The Mudville Nine, asking Casey to play ball.

Casey strode to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning,
The scoreboard said four to two, and the home team wasn’t winning.
Jimmy stood safe at second, while Flynn was hugging third,
When there rose a rumble from the stands, the second loudest ever heard.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
Oh, how the boos are shattered, by the force of Casey’s blow.
In the favored land of Mudville, women dance and twirl about
For there is joy again in Mudville, Mighty Casey hit it out.

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Things from the Elders

The Elders had their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday August 11 (aren't they a good lucking bunch!).

Here are the three things you need to know from that meeting:

  1. We have some important dates coming up in the life of the church
    • 9/12 Kick-off Sunday
      We will celebrate the official start of our Fall Program Year!
    • 10/3 World Communion Sunday and Rev. Brian's Installation
      A day so important we'll have TWO worship services!
      At 10:15AM we will celebrate World Communion Sunday, the highest of high holy days for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
      In the afternoon (around 4PM, details to come) we will have an Installation Service that formally installs me as the Settled Pastor here at FCC Scottsdale!
    • 10/24 Rev. Vy Nyguen of Church World Service to fill the pulpit
      My good friend the Rev. Vy Nyguen (Assistant Regional Director for Church World Service) will lead worship and preach a rousing a sermon to get us geared up for the Crop Hunger Walk! 
  2. In helping to lighten the load of the Nominating Committee (yep, it is about that time already!) we began discussing potential Elders to come aboard in 2011. If you have ideas please feel free to let me know.

  3. I passed out Version 1.1 of my schedule which contains some minor tweaks. Since my son's new school starts at 8:30AM (and since it is only 2 minutes down the street) my normal office hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be from 8:30 to 4:30.
    Also, in addition to being available for evening meetings, dinners, and pastoral visits on Wednesday evenings I will also be available on Thursday evenings now too thanks to a gracious offer to babysit each Thursday from a member of my wife's congregation.
So there are your three things: Important Dates, Potential Elders, and a Revised Schedule.