Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This Past Weekend in Pictures

It was a busy time in the life of our church this past weekend. Our Early Ed Group (ages 4-8 years old) had their very first overnight retreat, we celebrated the third Sunday in Advent (with the World's Cutest Living Nativity greeting worshipers on their way into the church!), held our Annual Congregational Meeting, and wrapped everything up with a lovely DWM-hosted Christmas Luncheon.

Here are some of the pics from this past weekend.

Jeanne leading the kids in an opening song to kick-off
the Youth Overnight Event on Saturday. 

A star shining outside the manger in the
World's Cutest Living Nativity Scene from
Sunday morning.

Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by
animals, shepherds, and an angel.

The wisemen and the angel at the manger.

David reading the kids "Twas the Night Before Christmas"
at the DWM Luncheon in a way that only he can -- by
switching the last word in each line for the next one!
The Celebration Singers leading us in Arizona-inspired
renditions of classic Christmas carols.

Henry and Brayden at the luncheon.

Brad closed out the Luncheon with a spot-on rendition
of Kermit the Frog singing a Christmas carol...and since Kermit
couldn't be there Brad brought along his own sock for a puppet!

Whiteboard: Advent 4, The Sunday of Love

This Sunday we will light the fourth candle in our Advent Wreath, and with it we will celebrate the Sunday of Love.

As we prepare our hearts to once again welcome Christ and celebrate his birth at Christmas, I invite you to join me this week in praying the following prayer for love:

O God,
 we thank you that Jesus showed your love
for every person— babies and children,
old and young,
the sick and those who were strong,
the rich and those who were poor.
Come to us as Christmas approaches
 and let love be born in our hearts
 as you were born into the world
on Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Week of Compassion: We Could Heal The Land

Week of Compassion Associate Director Brandon Gilvin recently returned from Haiti as part of a delegation organized by partner organization Agricultural Missions. The following update highlights many of the learnings and experiences of the group, and is adapted from a recent report by Stephen Bartlett of Agricultural Missions.

From areas as diverse as Leogane in the south, La Verettes and Petite Riviere in the rice basket of Haiti, Artibonite, to various communities of the Central Plateau, members of a recent delegation to Haiti met with farmer-leaders, their communities and families, toured well-worked gardens and fields, and waded through rice paddies to get a picture of food sovereignty in Haiti.

During the visit Hurricane Sandy blew through, dumping heavy rains for three days straight. Though the delegation had to adjust its itinerary, it was largely unaffected by the storm. Others did not fare as well. Sandy destroyed crops, killed farm animals and people in several mountainous regions of the country, as well as in Port-au-Prince. Climate change, environmental degradation, and a history of agricultural policy with little focus on sustainability or food security exacerbated the vulnerability of those in the path of the storm.

Despite the significant challenges facing the country, the small scale farmers we met not only demonstrated resilience but technical skill and a commitment to community that supported their aspirations for food sovereignty.

Rural women continue to play a key role in the partnerships between Week of Compassion, Agricultural Missions, and local cooperatives of small scale farmers. Many women use rain catchment and raised "tire" gardens (called the "road to life" gardens) and fruit trees to provide a level of food security and healthy nutrients for an expanding number of families and communities-- incredibly important considering the severe alternating drought and flooding Haitian farmers faced throughout 2012.

The rain catchment systems have greatly transformed the lives of the women heads of household by cutting out hours of walking and carrying water. A recent micro-credit program funded through Agricultural Missions and supported by Week of Compassion has enabled 240 women in 20 women's agricultural associations across Haiti to set up these raised tire gardens, providing training for two women leaders from each community, who in turn train the others.

Establishing seed banks for local communities was also a key strategy for food sovereignty in targeted communities. However, following the 2010 Earthquake, many seeds set aside for future production were consumed in order to support approximately 780,000 people displaced to rural areas. Two years later, communities are catching up, and with the support of grassroots partners, 120 craftspeople were trained in traditional tin-smithing work to produce metallic silos for seed banks, allowing them to store seeds for subsequent seasons. More than 300 silos for community seed banks have already been constructed across Haiti.

"We could heal the land sufficiently in 25 years to give Haiti a new start and feed ourselves," said one leader from a member organization of Via Campesina, the planetary food sovereignty movement representing more than 350,000,000 family farmers across the globe. "Small farmers already feed 80% of humanity and can cool the planet back down too, if given a chance."

Partnerships such as these allow each and every one of us to participate in the healing of Haiti. Agricultural reform, food security, and food sovereignty take the contributions of people from all walks of life, and thanks to your generosity, this healing continues.

Week of Compassion is proud to partner with Agricultural Missions in Haiti and in West Africa. Thank you for your courageous compassion as we accompany small stakeholder farmers across the world.
What is food sovereignty?
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation.

What does agricultural development have to do with earthquake recovery?
While the 2010 Earthquake caused massive damage in Port-au-Prince, rural areas were affected and also became the destination for hundreds of thousands of displaced city dwellers, straining food resources. Little to no emergency government aid made its way to the rural areas.

In addition, in terms of development, Port-au-Prince was prioritized over the rural areas for years. The centralization of the Haitian economy, educational system, and other infrastructure pushed migrants from the rural areas to the city, straining resources, and leading to overcrowding. While the damage done by the 2010 earthquake would have been massive under any circumstances, overcrowded buildings led to an even higher death toll.

Investing in Food Secure and Food Sovereign rural communities helps not only provide opportunity in those areas, it also promotes decentralization, inviting the development of other infrastructure, such as school and health systems, as well as mitigating against migration to the densely populated capital city.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Whiteboard: Advent 3, The Sunday of Joy

The Third Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Joy.

In preparation for our Sunday Morning Worship Service I invite you to join me in offering the following prayer this week:

O Holy One,
as Christmas draws near,
there is a sense of excitement in the air.
We can feel a joy in our lives
and see it in those around us.
Still, for some of us this is a sad time
because of unhappy things that have happened in our lives.
Help us to have that joy that does not depend
on earthly happiness, but on you.
Help us to be filled with your joy
so that we may share it with a joyless world.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Newsbrief: Invitations

“There are 19 days until Christmas.”

That’s what Henry said to me this morning.

Leave it to my six-year-old son to keep a running count!

So if there are 19 days until Christmas, that means we have 18 days until our Christmas Eve Worship Service! And I need your help getting the word out.

Our Christmas Eve Worship Serive will be a family friendly affair (complete with a Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long and an interactive Children’s Sermon) so make sure to invite your kids or your grandkids, your nieces and nephews, your cousins and any other family member you can think of.

We’ll be sharing stories from scripture, but we’re doing it in a different way this year. So make sure and invite anyone who needs to hear the Christmas story once more and all over again and be touched by the beauty of scripture in a new way. Make sure to invite your friends, your neighbors, your postman, that nice person standing in line in front of you at the mall, and anyone else who can help us celebrate the birth of Christ!

The music is going to be spectacular on Christmas Eve. We’ll have congregational singing, our Celebration praise team is already hard at work on special music, and the Chancel Choir will make their glorious return on Christmas Eve! (The Chancel Choir will be rehearsing this Sunday immediately after worship if you would like to join us.)

In fact, you’ll want to get here early on Christmas Eve to make sure and get a seat (we’re expecting a full sanctuary) and to be a part of the music. The Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long will be a part of our Gathering Music in advance of worship. The Christmas Eve Service will start at 7PM, but we’ll start gathering and singing at least 10 minutes before that…more details to come.

So spread the word and countdown those days until Christmas Eve. I look forward to seeing you all on Monday December 24 at 7PM in the sanctuary. You know, and each Sunday in between too!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Newsbrief: Advent

Last week I was reminded of the writings of favorite old professor of mine.

His name is Dr. Kenneth Lawrence, but his students all knew him simply as “Lorenzo”.

He taught in the Religion Department at Texas Christian University, and I inherited my love for theology and the arts directly from him.

Dr. Lawrence served as Editor and Writer for Imaging the Word a three-volume arts and lectionary resource.

In seeking to find a way to share the beauty and fullness – really, the importance – of this Season of Advent I went back to the text Lorenzo wrote and edited and found these words waiting for me, waiting for us:

Life is filled with times of waiting; often a time of waiting overlaps with other periods of expectancy. Though many people do not want to have to wait for anything if it can be avoided, everyone has such experiences of waiting. We learn that times of incubation are necessary for the truly significant to come to fruition. Amidst all the small waitings of mundane life experiences are those most significant times of marked transitions, small or great transformations, goal fulfillments, culminations of processes and learnings. We continually experience incompleteness and await, hope, expect. We wait for some realization, fulfillment, salvation.

The season of Advent can be artful waiting. The lectionary readings variously proclaim the preparation, the expectation of the coming together of the Transcendent and the Earth, the diving fully present in the fully human. Almighty God deigns to be imminent, accessible, knowable. Paradox abounds in the scriptural readings of this season; in Advent we await the greatest mystery to be realized.

I hope you will join us each Sunday in Advent as we walk though this season of preparation and culmination. On the first Sunday in Advent we will decorate a Jesse Tree, an artful way of hearing once more the promises and prophecies of Christ Jesus as we eagerly await, as Lorenzo put it, “the greatest mystery to be realized.” I’ll see you on Sunday! 

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Whiteboard: Advent 2, The Sunday of Peace

The Second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Peace.

In preparation for our Sunday Morning Worship Service I invite you to join me in offering the following prayer this week:

Eternal God,
We thank you that through all the years
you have given peace to your people.
Help us to have your peace in our lives.
We pray that, in this Advent season,
we may show your presence to the sick,
to the hungry,
and to the lonely,
so that they too
may have peace.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Whiteboard: Advent 1, The Sunday of Hope

This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, a season of expectation, preparation, and anticipation that leads the way for the celebration of Christmas.

During the Season of Advent I'll be using this Whiteboard space to share the updated pictures of what is on the my whiteboard in my office (spoiler alert: a new candle will be "lit" each week in the picture) and share a prayer specific for that week.

You see, during the season of Advent each Sunday has a specific theme assigned to it. The first Sunday (this Sunday) is the Sunday of Hope. Then comes Peace, Joy, and ultimately on the Fourth Sunday of Advent comes Love.

In this time of Advent as we eagerly await the birth of Christ in our hearts and in our world I hope that you will join me in praying these Advent prayers.

This Week's Advent Prayer:
O God, we thank you
that Jesus brought hope into our world.
By the good news of the Bible
you are still bringing hope to people.
Help us to be ready to welcome Jesus Christ
so that we may think good thoughts
and do good deeds
and so that we may be a people of hope
in our world. 

Alternative Christmas Gift Ideas

This past Sunday during our morning announcements just before worship, Jeanne Thompson shared an invitation with the congregation on behalf of the Monday Night Bible Study. That invitation was to find a way to "take some of the consumerism out of Christmas this year and make it more of a sacrifice and time to think about others."

In that regard the Monday Night Bible Study has put together the following list of Alternative Christmas Gifts and Ideas. Each link below gives you the opportunity to support great causes that make a real difference in our local community or throughout the world. 

Alternative Christmas Gifts and Ideas:

UNICEF: donate or shop- you can even buy your Christmas cards through UNICEF, made with a comitment to sustainable forest management

Feed My Starving Children: donate or shop at their market place. For $10 feed a child 45 meals and print a card to give to your loved one (under “gifts that grow”)

The Greater Good Network:  network with links to several sites, each selling gifts which support various causes

The Hunger Site: part of the Greater Good Network, find Fair Trade gifts that support food relief efforts

The Nature Conservancy: this site offers a variety of DIY gift ideas, “green” holiday suggestions, etc.

Heifer International:  “buy” chickens, bees and even water pumps which provide food sources for families in need. You can print a card along with your donation that explains your gift

Arizona Humane Society: buy a tribute brick or see their “donate” tab for more donation/gift ideas

Desert Botanical Garden: give tickets to an event, buy plants at the gift shop, or make a donation in someone’s name

The Phoenix Zoo: give tickets to Zoolights!

Amor Ministries: fund projects for Amor

Etsy:  local, handmade gifts that support small businesses (high quality and tons of variety)

Sustainable Arizona:  donate or check out their ecotourism page (under information links) for lots of ideas if you are planning to travel or hosting out of town guests

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Three Things: Administrative Council

This past Sunday Administrative Council met for their last regularly scheduled meeting of 2012. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:

  1. On the recommendation from the Outreach Team we will sending financial gifts to support the mission work of Amor Ministries and to underwrite the work of Vista del Camino regarding the Healthy Packs Program. We also released funds to help with food cards in our community.
  2. After thoughtful conversations with the leaders of all groups impacted, the Administrative Council has decided to sell or donate the church van. The expenses to insure and keep-up the van simply outweigh its utility for our church at this time. Further, the monies in the Van Fund have been transferred to the Reserve Fund.
  3. In preparation for the Annual Congregational Meeting on December 16, Administrative Council signed off on the 2013 Proposed Budget and the Slate of Nominees to serve on the 2013 Administrative Council. You'll be hearing more about the Budget and the Slate of Nominees in the coming weeks leading up to the Annual Congregational Meeting on December 16. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Whiteboard: Christ the King

Christ the King Sunday marks the very last Sunday in our Christian Liturgical year. 

Ironically enough, it is a Sunday that gets short shrift in our tradition -- I mean, Christ is the King, and yet we skip right past this Sunday most of the time in favor of Thanksgiving Sunday or Stewardship Dedication Sunday. 

Well, not this year.

This year we will celebrate Christ the King Sunday, and in so doing we will recognize that by realizing Christ is King we also realize our true nature as well. 

Our scripture readings come from Revelation 1 ("I am the Alpha and the Omega") and John 18 (where Pilate asks, "Are you the King of the Jews?"), and in celebrating the end of a Liturgical Year we will celebrate all that Christ is for us as a people of faith. 

Revelation 1:4b-8
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: 
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and madeus to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen. 
‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

John 18:33-37

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Regional Assembly Pics

Regional Assembly was a tremendous success!

Thank you to the teams and teams of volunteers from our church who made the 2012 Arizona Regional Assembly such a wonderful event. I am especially thankful to Cathy Lloyd and Beth Porter who were marvelous as our Local Arrangements Coordinators.

The theme for the Regional Assembly was "Faces of Yes!" and was drawn from 2 Corinthians 1:20 "For in Christ all of God's promises are YES!"

We heard stories of God's abundant YES! in the dynamic sermons and inspiring keynotes from the Rev. Dawn Darwin-Weaks and Rev. Dr. Todd Adams.

We experienced God's YES! in two different sessions of the Mission, Ministry, and Music Festival where members from our AZ Disciples Churches showcased their best practices and programs.

We joined our voices to sing out in praise and celebration to God's YES! with the wonderful music of Rick and Laura Hall.

And all through out the Assembly our Youth were capturing pictures of the folks who were here for Assembly -- literally snapping photos of the Faces of YES! from the Assembly. Here are a just a few (ok, more than a few!) of those pics...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Whiteboard: Let it Shine!

This Sunday we cap off our Stewardship Campaign with Dedication Sunday!

For our Stewardship theme this year we selected "Let It Shine!" and we have been using our new Stained Glass Panels as a guiding visual aid. Just as the light shines through those panels revealing their intricacy and beauty, the light of God shines through us revealing the power and purpose that we know through Christ.

So I just couldn't help myself with the Whiteboard this week. I just had to fill the Whiteboard with my own (crude) rendering of the Stained Glass Panels.

Not bad, right? I preached a few weeks ago that when I look at those three panels I see big, vibrant swaths of color shining down from the top of each panel intersecting with smaller rays of color bursting up from the bottom. I like to think that the big, vibrant rays coming down from the top represent the blessings of God raining down on us, and that the rays bursting up from the bottom represent our faithful response to God’s abundant love.

Won't you help us to "Let It Shine!" in the coming year by supporting our Stewardship Pledge Drive this year! Please join us this Sunday as we hear the holy words of scripture, celebrate the abundance of God's blessings, and dedicate our pledges for the coming year!


2 Corinthians 4:5-10
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.

Matthew 5:13-16

‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Whiteboard: Regional Assembly!

I know the Whiteboard is normally reserved for what I'll be preaching on this coming Sunday...but this is no normal week at the church!

We are hosting the Arizona Regional Assembly this week. Things will kick off on Friday evening with registration (starting at 5:30) and opening worship (starting at 7:30) followed by a reception in our courtyard featuring music from our very own Al Beasley and the CROP Walk Band. The festivities continue all day Saturday starting off with a Fellowship Breakfast (at 7:30 in the Fellowship Hall) followed by a day filled with worship and music, keynotes and presentations then ending with the closing worship on Saturday afternoon.

The theme for Regional Assembly this year is "Faces of YES!" drawing on II Corinthians 1:20 "In Christ all of God's promises are YES!"

It is obvious very busy here at the church this week getting everything ready for Assembly, so instead of drawing on the Whiteboard I posted photos of some of the "Faces of YES!" from around our Region.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rev Don Jones: Pastor Emeritus

On Sunday October 28, 2012 the Reverend Don C. Jones was formally recognized as Pastor Emeritus of First Christian Church.

Below you will find the audio from the Worship Service where we recognized Rev. Jones, as well as copies of the official resolution that was presented to him that day, and the congregational prayer of affirmation.

Congratulations, Rev. Jones, and thank you for everything!



Official Resolution

The Administrative Council, as the governing body of the First Christian Church of Scottsdale, hereby proudly recognizes the many years of dedicated service and pastoral leadership by the Reverend Donald C. Jones, a former Senior Pastor of this Church.

The Council intends for the Church to now formally recognize and honor these years of dedicated service by Reverend Jones.

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved, that First Christian Church of Scottsdale hereby designates and bestows upon the Reverend Donald C. Jones the title of Pastor Emeritus of the Church. This title is offered in recognition of the exceptional service Reverend Jones provided during his tenure as Senior Pastor of this Church from 1967 until 1991.

In Witness Whereof, this Resolution is passed in the month of October in the year 2012.

Congregational Prayer

We are all a part of the body of Christ. We all witness God’s unlimited love for all people. We have received Jesus’ ministry of reconciling love.

We rejoice that the ministry of Christ is shared through the Reverend Don Jones. We accept him today and in the future as the Pastor Emeritus of this church.

In conferring this honor upon you Don, we pledge our continued concern for your health and happiness. We cherish the contributionsyou have made and continue to make for the good of this church and this congregation.

Together we will seek to glorify God and serve Christ in a mission and ministry of love.

May the blessings and love of God be yours now and always.


Church World Service: SuperStorm Sandy

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I am posting opportunities to respond from different organizations that we support here at the church here on the blog. Here is an update from Church World Service.
Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Monday. The storm has left a trail of destruction, floods, and power outages for millions of people across the northeast United States. The road to recovery is only just beginning. 
CWS's expertise in the U.S. focuses on long-term recovery: helping the most vulnerable prepare for and recover from disaster. CWS is shipping 2,000 CWS Blankets, 3,000 School Kits, 3,000 Hygiene Kits, 300 Clean-up Buckets and 100 Baby Kits for emergency response efforts in New Jersey. And CWS emergency response specialists are working with state, regional and local officials to determine what aid and training is needed and where. 

In Cuba, CWS is sending 3,300 CWS Blankets, 9,000 Baby Kits, 1,125 Hygiene Kits and 1,500 School Kits after Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction there as well.
You can help Sandy's victims by making an online donation today. The needs are great. YOU can make a difference now!

Disciples Volunteering: Superstorm Sandy

Josh Baird serves as Director of Disciples Volunteering. He provides the following thoughts on responding to the flooding and other damage caused by Sandy:
Disciples Volunteering and Week of Compassion are assessing needs as they are identified in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We ask you to join in prayer for those who have been affected by this storm, for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, and for the safety of first responders who are saving lives and restoring critical infrastructure to communities in the United States as well as in many Caribbean nations.
There will come a time when help will be needed with clean up and rebuild efforts - and many communities hit by past disasters do need help now. In the immediate aftermath of any disaster, but especially one as wide-spread as this, the best gift anyone can make is a financial donation. Gifts designated through Week of Compassion will be used 100% for the response and recovery. Another important response is assembling kits or clean up buckets through Church World Service (CWS). 
It may seem like a small thing, but receiving a clean-up bucket lifts a huge burden as people struggle trying to figure out how to even begin restoring their home. CWS has already shipped several thousand blankets, kits, and buckets to affected communities in the United States, and thousands more to the Caribbean. CWS is specifically appealing for blanket donations, due to the large number that have been sent all over the world in response to a series of recent disasters. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated as we the Church offer hope and healing in times of need.

Newsbrief: Let It Shine!

The letters went out in the mail today.

You’ll want to keep a look out in mailbox.

And make sure the check out the cool stuff inside, because we are kicking off our Stewardship Campaign and the letters went out today!

This year we are using the theme “Let It Shine!” and I couldn’t be more excited about our guiding image. In fact, I almost don’t want to give it away here in the Newsbrief…but that seems pretty silly given that the picture is posted there to the right, so here we go!

You’ll see our new Stained Glass Panels featured prominently in the Stewardship Letter and on the front and back of your Pledge Card. Just as the light shines through those Stained Glass Panels revealing their intricacies and beauty, so too does the light of God shine through us to reveal the power and presence of Christ.

Over the next three weeks we’ll be celebrating the good things that God has done, is doing, and will do through First Christian Church Scottsdale.

This Sunday is also All Saints Day in the broader life of the church. On All Saints Day we celebrate those saints among us (the ones who not only embody the faith so well, but who have passed that faith along to us) as well as those saints who have gone from this life to the next. We will remember the example of those who have gone before us and we will have a special time of prayer to remember those members and friends of our congregation that we have lost in the previous year. Through the service we will be reminded once more and all over again about the biblical call to live out our faith in the world as the saints of God.

The Sunday after (on November 11) we are honored to have as our guest preacher the Rev. Dr. Todd Adams – The Associate General Minister and Vice President for our denomination. He will bring us the good news from the General Church as well as stirring stewardship message.

Then the Sunday after that (on November 18) we will celebrate God’s glory and our faithful response with Dedication Sunday.

All of this is lined out in more detail in your Stewardship Letter. So keep a look out in your mailbox, and help us to “Let It Shine!” at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Whiteboard: All Saints Sunday

With so much going on at the church right now (Regional Assembly coming up, the Stewardship Campaign Kicking Off, Music Director Search, Newsletter Deadline, etc) I didn't have much time to devote to the Whiteboard this week.

So what do you do when you need to draw something quick...Stick Figures!

This Sunday we will be celebrating the Saints in the life of First Christian Church. We will recognize the saints who walk among us, hear again our biblical call to live as saints, and recognize God's good and faithful servants who have gone from this life to the next over the past 12 months.

I hope you'll join us this Sunday for this special service of prayer and calling, of thanksgiving and celebration!

I'll see you Sunday!


Mark 12:28-34 -- The First Commandment

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ 
Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ 
Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ 
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week of Compassion: Superstorm Sandy

Friends, I received the following update this morning from our brothers and sisters in service at Week of Compassion pertaining to Superstorm Sandy:

Superstorm Sandy Response
Having done significant damage last week in the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy is crossing the Eastern North American coast. The combination of the hurricane, a large low-pressure system coming across the Mid-Atlantic States and a cold front from the north have converged to produce a massive storm that will continue to affect the northeast US and Canada for the next several days. 
Effects of the storm include: tidal storm surge from Virginia to Maine; tropical storm winds from the coast to as far west as Ohio; heavy rains from North Carolina to Maine and up into Nova Scotia, Canada; and heavy snow fall (as much as 24 inches) in the northern Appalachian Mountains, in West Virginia in particular; and serious flooding in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Early predicted damage estimates are in the tens of millions.
Hurricane Sandy is already a killer, having caused at least 69 deaths in the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, at least 16 U.S. deaths, and one Canadian fatality. Across North America, more than 7 million are without electricity, and more than 15,000 flights have been canceled. 
Week of Compassion stands ready to respond. We are in touch with Regional Ministers in affected areas, all of whom are busy collecting information from congregations concerning the effects of Sandy on their members or communities.
Our partners at Church World Service will provide material resources in affected areas, including blankets, hygiene kits and clean-up buckets, as needed. CWS also will assist communities in developing long-term recovery plans and provide technical and financial support, as possible. 
We are also coordinating with our partners, including the Latin American Caribbean Area Office of Global Ministries, Church World Service, and the ACT Alliance, all of whom are currently assessing needs. Tropical storm conditions and severe rain and wind affected Haiti from October 23 to October 27, covering all departments of the country. 
In Haiti, severe flooding damaged and blocked infrastructure/roads, damaged/destroyed houses, caused loss of livestock and severe damage to agricultural fields. Evacuations have taken place in risk-prone zones and certain Internally Displaced Persons camps. New outbreaks of cholera have been reported and more are expected in the coming days. The Cuban Council of Churches, a long-time CWS partner, is conducting damage assessments in affected areas. A shipment of material goods from CWS to Cuba departed on Oct. 27. 
How You Can Respond:
  • Remember, the best response in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is to donate from your financial resources. Week of Compassion will help you respond in a way that is efficient, flexible, and impactful.Click here to donate.
  • Of course, continue to keep those affected by the storm in your prayers. The clean-up effort will not happen overnight, and will take the efforts of many people. By teaming up with our great partners, we can contribute in effective, important ways.
The God of the rainbow, the God of healing, the God of hope calls us to respond. Thank you for your concern for all of those affected. Thank you for your prayers, and as always, for the generous, Courageous Compassion that moves each of you in word and deed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whiteboard: Mark 10:46-52

Can you see it?

Or perhaps the better question is this: Can you read it?

I can't tell you how many people have walked into my office this week, taken one look at the Whiteboard and just assumed this was any old ordinary eye-chart that I had drawn up there.

But it isn't.

For starters, what eye-chart do you know of that starts with a big "I" instead of the ubiquitous "E"?

So take another look, and ask yourself, "Can I read it?"

If you still can't see it, let me give you a hand. It reads, "I ONCE WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE"

As soon as I tell you that, you can't see the eye-chart any other way! It is hard to see it at first blush because the letters are arranged a little funny and you just think they are randomly strewn up there. Yet the message has been right there in front of us the whole time!

It is enough to make you wonder what other things we've been blind to all along. What important, crucial, vital, life-giving things are right there in front of us and yet the they fall into our blind spot?

Our Gospel Reading this week presents us with the story of Blind Bartemaeus. It is a story of healing, yes, but of so much more too. You see, once he is healed scripture tells us that Bartemaeus "followed Jesus on the way." So it is an invitation to not only see the world with new eyes (like Bartemaeus) but to follow Christ Jesus on the way (like Bartemaeus!).


Mark 10:46-52 --The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The After Picture

We had the "Before" picture last week. Now here is the "After" picture and the story of how we got there!


I woke up on Monday morning not knowing what kind of day it was going to be.

Christi and Bonnie had called me on Friday evening to pass along the bad news: There was a problem at the farm in New Mexico where our pumpkins come from. Something about a gas line and an accident. Whatever the details were, it meant that our pumpkins weren't going to arrive on Saturday (when we were ready for them with a team of volunteers) and would instead be coming sometime on Monday (when folks would be working, kids would be in school, and our list of volunteers suddenly came up a lot shorter).

Then something amazing happened.

A little before 1PM my son Henry and I got to the church to help out. It wasn't looking good. I saw Charlie. I saw Julie. I saw Christi and Bonnie. But I didn't see the truck. And I didn't see many other folks. I started to think, "This might be a long day."

I was putting sunscreen on Henry when Beth drove up. Then Andrea drove up. Then Don and Kay came from around the other side of the building. Chuck was there (and he's not even a member!). Things were starting to look up, but still not truck.

Suddenly a carfull of Andrea's classmates from ASU arrived. Then another carfull. Then another. Suddenly Nancy was there.  Bob and Shirley were too. So were Carol and Cathy and and Jan and Carrie (and Carrie's friend and Carrie's friend's kid!). Katie came to work and brought June with her. Marilyn dropped off RJ, and then found a parking spot for herself. Greg even showed up with his famous Greg-shirt on.

Then, a sight for sore eyes. The truck was here! It was 45-minutes late (okay fine, 2-days, 2-hours, and 45-minutes late!) but it was here!

And folks just kept coming. Daryl and Abigail. Seth, Cecile, and Grace (and Grace's friend Kennedy). Dave got the phone call and he came out.

The first wave of people jumped into the truck, another group grabbed wheelbarrels. We started unloading the boxes, then the little pumpkins, then the big pumpkins. Now there are so many people here that I can't keep up with them all anymore! I'm certain that I'm missing plenty of names and all I can say is..."Thank You."

Thank you to everyone who showed up. Thank you to everyone who was unloading pumpkins from inside a (very warm) tractor trailer cab. Thank you to all the folks who were lugging pumpkins. Thank you to the people who were rearranging them on the pallets and the haybails. Thank you to the crew that pricing pumpkins and the people that were moving pallets and the volunteers that were emptying boxes, and the designers who laid out the labyrinth. Thank you to everyone! We unloaded 1277 pumpkins in less than two hours on Monday afternoon.


I still can't believe it. 

It was an amazing sight to behold.

It is a story that I am going to be telling for a long time.

I woke up on Monday morning not knowing what kind of day it was going to be. And after watching our church members and friends come together, I can safely say, "This was a very good day."