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.