Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Whiteboard: Simeon's Song

This Sunday we add a new Christmas Carol to our repertoire...though it is not one that we sing.

Luke 2:22-40 contains the lines of the Nunc Dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon.

Mary and Joseph bring their infant son Jesus to the Temple as part of the purification rituals of their day, and while they are there they encounter this man Simeon.

Scripture tells us that Simeon is a righteous and devout man who had received a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would in fact see the Messiah with his own eyes. Simeon takes one look at the infant Christ and he breaks out into an elaborate blessing.

Lord, now let your servant go in peace.
Your words have been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of every people.
A light to reveal you to the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Come join us this Sunday as we ring in the New Year and add our blessings to the words of Simeon's Song.

No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant

On Christmas Day Sunday we celebrated the birth of Christ in a new way.

We had a No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant.

That is right. No Rehearsal. We had a script, some very basic costumes, and a whole congregation full of willing volunteers to help us embody the Christmas Story in a new and powerful way.

Here is a picture of what it looked like when we were all done...

And here is the audio from the whole thing...

Thank you to everyone who participated, and especially to Cody who was the brave young soul who volunteered first!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I hope I get to see you all this weekend.

In fact, I hope I get to see you twice!

It is one of those funny years when Christmas Eve is on a Saturday and Christmas Day falls smack onto a Sunday…which makes life really busy here at the church!

We will have our Christmas Eve Worship Service at 7PM on Saturday night. There will be traditional scripture readings, lively music, and a candlelit benediction as we celebrate together the birth of Jesus Christ as a babe born in a manger in Bethlehem. Make sure to arrive early because seats are going to fill up fast! It is going to be an amazing worship service and I can’t wait to see you there.

Then we’ll turn right around and have Sunday morning worship on Christmas Day at 10:15AM. We will have the baby dedication of Ronan Matthew Cichon (Lyndee’s son, Cathy Lloyd’s grandson, Lloyd and Harriet Howard’s great-grandson) that morning. We will also have a No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant, which is fun, energetic way to tell the Christmas Story and celebrate Christ’s birth in a brand new way here at the church. Never heard of the No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant? Then come on out Sunday morning and be a part of living out the fullness of the Christmas Story with us.

Come and join us to sing Christmas Carols, light candles, hear the promises of scripture, share in the fellowship of the season, and celebrate the birth of Christ! I’ll see you on Saturday evening and again on Sunday morning!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

3 Things from the Annual Meeting

We had our Annual Congregational Meeting this past Sunday immediately following worship at First Christian Church Scottsdale. Here are the "Three Things You Need to Know" from that meeting.

  1. After a year of hard work, study, and discernment we have restructured the Church's By-Laws to more fully address important areas in the life of the church. Moving forward the committee structure of the church is now composed of: Worship, Education, Outreach, Facilities, Finances, Membership, Fellowship, and the Elders. We will also continue to have a leadership team made up of the Moderator, Vice Moderator, Treasurer, and Secretary. Many thanks to the Restructure Team who did tremendous work this year pulling all of this together!
  2. The Congregation formally approved the following Officers as well as Committee Co-Chairs (please note: We not only have chairs for each committee in 2012, but co-chairs for each committee in the coming year!).
         Moderator: Bob Bruns                    Vice Moderator: Sandi DeFeo
         Treasurer: Dave Groves                  Secretary: Nancy Sauder
         Education: Michelle Landreville and Jessie Jones
         Facilities: Don Jones and Mark Powell
         Fellowship: Cathy Lloyd and Beth Porter
         Finances: Dave Groves and Carol Tidrow
         Membership: Nancy Fasolino and Shirley Bruns
         Outreach: Bob Stall and Seth Duhnke
         Worship: Carrie Marinkovich and Dorothy Rightnowar
         New Elders (3-year Term): Scott Eubanks and Charlie Atkinson
  3. We formally approved a balanced budget for 2012 of $261,200. A complete breakdown of that Budget is available in the church office for anyone wishing to see it.
    In a related note, Pledge Cards from the Stewardship Campaign continue to arrive in the church office and I am overjoyed to announce that our pledge total for 2012 has increased from last year! With a handful of Pledge Cards still waiting to be returned we should be able to easily eclipse last year's totals and live into the figures spelled out in our newly adopted budget. Thank you for your generosity, and for living into the promises of your pledge cards!
Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Whiteboard: Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming!

See you this Saturday evening at 7PM and again on Sunday morning at 10:15!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DWM Luncheon

A huge word of thanks to the ladies of the DWM for hosting an exquisite Christmas Luncheon last Sunday!

And an extra special word of thanks from me for having a special vegetarian entree for me!

The food was delicious, the fellowship was incredible, and the singing was a true highlight.

In fact, in the days leading up to the DWM Luncheon Henry asked me, "Is this the thing where I get to sing?" He remembered last year's luncheon and he couldn't wait to come back and be a part of it all this year too!

Thanks to all the ladies who made it possible! Here are a couple of pictures that I snapped at the event (and yes, I realize that my son is featured in the bulk of them! I am a proud father after all!). Enjoy!


Whiteboard: Advent 4

The final candle in our Whiteboard Advent Wreath is lit!

That means this Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Love. As our season of expectation and anticipation comes to its fulfillment we hear the story of Mary. Mary, the young woman betrothed to be married. Mary, whom the angel visits with words so wondrous they can scarcely be understood. Mary, who sings a song beautiful about the promise that she gets to be a part of. Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

The pairing of the Advent theme and the scripture reading couldn't be more perfect this Sunday. On the Sunday of Love we have the story of Mary and we get to celebrate the fullness of love!

Our scripture reading this Sunday comes from Luke 1: 26-38, 46-55.

 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Newsbrief: Evaluations!

We had Staff Evaluations on Wednesday.

Here is something you to know about me -- I love evaluations!

Maybe that is a weird thing to say. But I do. I love evaluations. It is a time to take an honest look at the past year, see how we did in achieving our goals, and begin discerning where God is calling us in the year to come.

The HR Committee (that is Charlie Atkinson, Bob, Bruns, and Sandi DeFeo this year) convened for a long afternoon to meet with Jane, Doug, and myself. As a part of that process the first question asked was “What accomplishments in the past year are you most excited to celebrate?”

What a great question! It got me thinking about all the things that have happened here at the church in the last 12 months, and it is quite list, so I thought I would share some of those highlights with you.

Accomplishments from the past year: Productive Start of the Year Retreats with the Administrative Council and Elders, the Hard Work of the Church Growth Team, the Church Structure Team that helped redraw our By-laws, Growth of the Choir, Updates to the Computer System, Special Worship Services, Integration of Google Calendars on the Church Website, Global Mission Church, Welcoming 14 New Members into the Life of the Church, Nominating Committee finding chairs and co-chairs for each Committee in the Church, Recording of Sermons and Distribution of Sermon CD’s to our Homebound Members, the success of the Tuesday After School Enrichment Program, Consistent meetings with the Pastor Relations Committee, the success and growth of the Healthy Packs Weekend Meals Program, Large and Diverse representation from the church at the General Assembly, Remarkable Talents of our Bell Choir, Tremendous success at the Pumpkin Patch, Huge Turn Out for the CROP Hunger Walk.

That is quite a list! And it is still growing! This coming Sunday we’ll be able to add the DWM Holiday Luncheon and the Heart2Heart Christmas Concert as well.

This has been a very good year, and I am eagerly anticipating all that God will call us to be a part of in the coming year as well!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hanging of the Greens

The Church looks amazing! And it is all thanks to the marvelous team of volunteers who showed up to work day on Saturday December 3 for the Hanging of the Greens. Here are some pics of everyone in action and a few shots of the decorations we have up! (Note: Click on any picture below to see the full sized image)

Thanks to everyone who helped! Remember you can still be a part of making the church beautiful! We'll continue to collect Nativity Scenes each Sunday and display them around the church.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Whiteboard: Advent 3


The Third Sunday of Advent, is the Sunday of Joy (check out that cursive handwriting up on the Whiteboard this week!). Hear these words from our first scripture reading for this coming Sunday, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!

Do not quench the Spirit.

Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
This coming Sunday we will light the Candle of Joy and together we will rejoice in the promises of God. Check out what the Prophet Isaiah has to say about God's promises in Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11:
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Again I say, Rejoice! I'll see you this Sunday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This coming Sunday I’ll preach on change.

With the story of John the Baptist as our central text, it only seems fitting.

After all, John the Baptist was the great preparer of the way, the one who echoed the Prophet Isaiah’s great call to “make straight the pathways of the Lord.”

So this Sunday I’ll preach about change…and this Saturday you can help us illustrate the change of the season in a very real and tangible sense! This Saturday starting at 8AM we’ll have our annual Hanging of the Greens Work Day. Come join us and lend as a hand as we make our church beautiful in eager anticipation as we celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas time.

Come help us hang the wreaths, adorn the tree with chrismons, string the lights, and drape the greenery! We need your help to make all things ready and get this place looking marvelous!

The weather may be cold and there may even be rain on Saturday, but we’ll be tucked away snug and warm decorating the church, celebrating this season of preparation and anticipation, and making a beautiful, dynamic change to the looks of things in our church! I hope to see you there!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian