Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Whiteboard: Feed my sheep

We have one of my favorite encounters in all of scripture this week. It is filled with forgiveness and challenge, grace and action. There is so much going on in this Resurrection Encounter that I seem to find something new every single time I read it.

Here is the picture for this week...

The scripture for this Sunday comes from John 21:9-19. In it, Jesus appears once more to the Disciples. Again he shares a meal with him, only this time they recognize him immediately. None of that "unrecognized stranger" business like in the Road to Emmaus this week.

After they share the meal Jesus has a question for Peter. Then he asks it again. Then he asks it again.

What is going on with the repetition? And what does this shepherding language have to do with anything? And where does Peter go from there?

Come join us this coming Sunday at First Christian Church Scottsdale as dive deep into this marvelous text and see what word God has in store for us!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council had their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday, May 15 after worship. Here are the "Three Things You Should Know" from that meeting:

1) We formally approved Al Beasley, Jessie Jones, and Daryl Marinkovich as our three General Assembly Delegates and named Jeanne Thompson as our fourth delegate pending approval from the Regional Office.
(UPDATE: In the two days since our meeting we have verified that our church is eligible to have a fourth delegate. Congratulations to Jeanne who gets to vote now!)

2) The Church Growth Task Force and the Structure Team are moving ahead and making good progress.

3) Big things are happening with the ways that we reach out to one another and to the world: We are expanding our presence with Global Ministries to support our brothers and sisters throughout the globe AND looking into revamping our In-Reach program to support our own church members in times of need.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On the Whiteboard: May 15, 2011

I just couldn't help myself this week. I had to draw a cartoon sheep

With a sermon title like "Feeling Sheepish" and two familiar scripture readings like these I pretty much had to, right?

Our first scripture reading is probably the most well known passage in the Bible, Psalm 23. Its beautiful promise and wondrous imagery is captured in the opening line, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

The second scripture reading continues on the same theme in John 10:1-18 where Jesus declares for all who will follow him, "I am the good shepherd."

So, uh, I guess I could have put a shepherd up on the Whiteboard this week, but lets be honest, drawing a sheep is a lot more fun...and it easier on the artist to!

See you on Sunday!

Global Ministries: MMI Training

This past Sunday I was one of five members of First Christian Church Scottsdale to attend the Ministry and Mission Interpreters (MMI) Training down in Casa Grande. The Arizona Region sponsored this Global Ministries event and it was terrific! Churches from all over Arizona gathered to learn more about Global Ministries and how we are already a part of their mission and what ways we can become even further involved in the good work they are doing on behalf of the Kingdom of God!

A quick word of back-story: Global Ministries is the common witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ responsible for nurturing relationships with international partners on behalf of Disciples and the UCC.

The MMI Training The interpreters are the extended staff of Global Ministries, joining our partners in the US and across the world. The purpose of the MMI Training is to create a ripple effect of raising awareness and passion for mission in the local church by training others to tell the stories and use the  resources of Global Ministries. 

Several very tangible things are going to come out of this training (Global Ministries Sunday in the fall, new updates on our weekly prayer list, new mission partners to work with, etc). Stay tuned for all the good news coming from Global Ministries...and be sure to check out their excellent website at

Here are a handful of pictures from the event:
Al Beasley is comissioned as a Ministry and Mission Interpreter by Bob Shebeck the
Global Ministries Executive for Mission Interpretation and Constituency Relationships

 Cecile Duhnke receives communion from Denny Williams (Arizona Regional Minister) and 
Manuel Tovar (President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Mexico)

Me, Bob Shebeck, Al Beasley, and Cecile Duhnke posing next to the Global Ministries display

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Newsbrief: From the GMP

I’m going to turn over this space to our denomination’s General Minister and President, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins.

This week she used her blog to talk about the death of Osama bin Laden. Her reflections capture some of what I’ve been wrestling with since the news became public, and I thought some of you might be wrestling with the same things. So I wanted to share her pastoral, prophetic words with you all.

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

By Sharon Watkins on 5/4/2011 11:10 AM
The death of Osama Bin Laden gives rise to conflicting emotions. There’s a kind of relief – even gladness – that he’s finally out of the picture.  There is a sense of completion that a goal, long set, is now accomplished - maybe that’s partly where the celebrations have come from.  There’s renewed sadness as memories of 9/11 come flooding back - I can’t imagine what it’s like for the people who lost loved ones in the attacks, who live with these memories every single day.  There’s renewed gratitude for the people who were the first responders on 9/11.  Gratitude for those who stepped up to answer their nation’s call to respond in the various ways, right or wrong, our leaders have felt necessary.

But there’s also a troubled sense that violent death is not cause for celebration. Bin Laden’s life was itself a testimony to the devastation that fear and hate bring when they overcome the forces of life and hope. If I am honest, I have to admit that I resonate with the decision to search him out. But I also know that violence begets violence, and though his death brings a kind of closure to a decade-long search, it will bring its own retribution. The cycle of violence is likely to continue. Others will lose their lives before this tale is completely told.

Maybe that’s ultimately in part why Jesus told us to love our enemies. Not just for the principle of the matter, but also because in practice, hate will circle back and strike at us again.

In the midst of these conflicting emotions, there is the reality that we can choose which ones we act on. Jesus witnessed to the power of love and life. He brought his message into a violent and repressive empire. He expected his followers to resist evil with all their strength – but not by adopting evil’s methods of fear and hate. He called his followers to love at all times and to call upon the power of love to overcome evil, thereby being the sign posts of God’s empire of healing, hope and wholeness.

I understand that Jesus’ way is impossibly idealistic. But there is an idealism of violence that should be recognized as well. It was hate and violence that created Bin Laden in the first place. New instances of destruction and loss will result from his violent death. The relief and rejoicing of the moment will give way to sorrow another day.

So I wonder if, in the midst of the relief and the reflection, there can also be some renewed commitment to Jesus’ way of love and to God’s reign of wholeness. Not in a soft way, but in a tough, overcoming evil way. I wonder if we can take this moment to re-commit to becoming experts in using life-giving, peace-making techniques to overcome fear and hate. Even in our own communities can we seek out those who some might consider our enemies and learn how to treat them with love?

I cannot honestly say today that I grieve Osama Bin Laden’s death. Even so I am grieving. That in the life of Bin Laden and in his death, the ways of violence and death, for a moment, triumphed over the ways of Jesus. It is my prayer that this moment can become the moment where we make up our minds to be extremists for the powers of life, hope and love, where we recommit to being a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whiteboard: Road to Emmaus

On the third Sunday of Easter we continue with the Resurrection Experiences of Christ's first followers.

This Sunday's Gospel reading is another one of those mysterious, "They don't recognize Jesus at first" texts. Two of Jesus' disciples are on their way to Emmaus disheartened and taking stock of the recent events (Christ has been crucified, the woman have visited the empty tomb and shared their testimony). Suddenly they realize that there is a stranger traveling with him. The disciples share the news of Jesus' death and then this stranger (who is Christ the Lord!) teaches them about all the things that have happened and their reason for occurring beginning all the way back with the prophets.

Yet somehow they still do not see him!

It isn't until they share a meal together and Christ took the bread, blessed it,broke it, and gave it to them (sound familiar?) that their eyes are open and they realize the presence of Christ in their midst.

It is an extraordinary story from Luke 24:13-35 and it will serve as the central focus of our worship service this coming week. See you Sunday!