Thursday, April 26, 2012

Newsbrief: PIP

Things are moving right along with our Property Improvement Project.

In fact, this has been a busy week on the PIP front – for folks who are wondering, yes, PIP stands for Property Improvement Project!

You’ll be receiving in the mail this week a letter from me about the Property Improvement Project. My letter outlines some of the basics of the project and it also includes our new PIP Brochure and a PIP Prayer Card.

Make sure to read over that PIP Brochure carefully. It spells out the rationale for our project, explains how we will go about funding the entire endeavor, and includes a handy chart to help folks figure out levels of giving. Plus, it looks really sharp and it is fun to read!

And make sure to keep that PIP Prayer Card as well. Our project will only be successful with the guidance and blessings of God. Your steadfast prayers of thankfulness and petitions for God’s guidance, God’s blessings, and God’s grace will be central to our PIP plan. I hope you’ll use that PIP Prayer Card – or any other daily devotional guide – to help you to pray for our church, our mission, and our ministries in the world all through out the Property Improvement Project…and beyond!

In other PIP News, this Sunday we will kick off a three week series where members of the church will be sharing with you their stories of our church and their reasons for supporting the PIP program. This time of sharing will happen right before our Sunday Morning Prayers of the People, and Cathy Lloyd will bring the first word.

The PIP Team continues to have their regular meetings on Mondays to make sure that things keep moving in the right direction. Next week you’ll receive a mailing directly from the PIP Team that will invite your prayerful consideration of a Capital Campaign Gift to support the Property Improvement Project.

If you have any questions about the PIP please feel free to contact me or any member of the PIP Team.

Thank you for your support! Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for being a part of the mission and ministry at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

What I'm watching

I've been obsessed with two YouTube videos that we sent to me this past week...and I thought you might enjoy seeing them too!

The first one is probably the most effective use of a "Flash Mob" that I have ever seen.

The second one is a terrific rendition of one of my favorite hymns as performed by Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Whiteboard: Psalm 23

What else can I say?

Join us this Sunday morning for worship where Psalm 23 will be our guiding text.


Psalm 23 The Divine Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
   He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters; 
   he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
   for his name’s sake. 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
   I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff—
   they comfort me. 

You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Newsbrief: Property Improvement Program

It is unanimous!

This past Sunday we met right after worship to hear the plan from the Property Improvement Program Team.

It was a great meeting. Well organized and informative, and it even included four giant cut-outs of Bob the Builder!

The Property Improvement Program Team walked us through the specifics of what parts of our church property we will be working on (with individual items outlined for the Fellowship Hall, Sanctuary, Education Building, and Church Office) as well as answering the all important question, “And how are we going to pay for all of this?”

(By the way, the answer to that all important question is through a $120,000 Capital Campaign that you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the coming weeks!)

After the presentation, when it was formally time to ask for the congregations buy in, I am overjoyed to announce that the vote was unanimous!

So we are proceeding with the Property Improvement Program. You’ll see our Bob the Builder Cut-Outs all over the church grounds for the next little while in the life of our church. Each one details a portion of the work that is in store for our four church buildings. You will also be getting a letter from me followed by a letter from the Property Improvement Program Team asking for our your Capital Campaign Pledge and just as importantly asking for your continued prayers for this plan and for all of God’s work that we are a part of here at FCC Scottsdale.

Our Property Improvement Program Team has been doing great work, and I am thrilled that the congregation is so strongly supporting this plan!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Whiteboard: Deja Vu

It is a bit of deja vu this Sunday.

Last Sunday we had John's take on the Christ's resurrection appearance with the disciples (an encounter that we like to label as the story of "Doubting" Thomas, although I unpacked that unfortunate nickname in my sermon).

This Sunday we have Luke's accounting of Christ's resurrection appearance with the disciples sounds pretty familiar.

Not only does this appearance sound an awful lot like the Gospel of John's account from last Sunday, but it bears a striking resemblance to the story that comes right before this Sunday's reading in Luke too -- we know that story as the Walk to Emmaus (no unpacking necessary here, they really were walking to Emmaus!).

Lucy Lind Hogan has an excellent reading on the similarities in these texts and more importantly why those similarities matter.

For my money, I think the scriptures are trying to tell us that in no uncertain terms that Christ comes to folks who doubt and fear and brings them peace and purpose. And maybe, just maybe it is a point so crucial that we need to hear it again and again in these Sundays of Eastertide.


Luke 24:36b-48

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Newsbrief: Special Congregational Meeting

There will be a Bob the Builder sighting this Sunday at church.

We have adopted Bob the Builder (and his joyfully infectious theme song “Can we fix it? Yes we can!”) as the official mascot for our Property Improvement Plan and this Sunday you can expect to see a lot of him.

Immediately following worship this Sunday we’ll have a Special Congregational Meeting to bring the entire congregation up to speed on the Property Improvement Plan.

And there is a lot of good news to share!

The Property Improvement Team has been working hard collecting bids, organizing the projects, figuring out financing, and creating the timeline for the entire project. Now we need your support and buy in!

Please join us this coming Sunday right after worship to hear all about the Property Improvement Plan, the ways that you can help support it, and all that God has in store for us in this important time. I look forward to seeing you (and Bob the Builder!) there on Sunday.

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Whiteboard: Doubt and Faith

It is striking that right after Easter Sunday we hear the story of the one commonly known as Doubting Thomas.

{For the record, I think Thomas gets a bum deal, and I'll make that case to you this Sunday at worship}

Doubt breaks in right on the heals of Easter's triumphant celebration.

It isn't just a twist of the liturgical calendar either. No, it is downright scriptural. For Easter Sunday we read from John 20:1-18 and this coming Sunday we'll pick up exactly where Easter's story left off.

John 20:19-31 (see, it picks up at the very next verse!) tells the story of the Disciples hiding out in a house behind a locked door paralyzed by their own fears that they might face the same fate that befell Jesus. What happens next shows how Christ's resurrection power reaches out to us in our times of doubt and fear and distress and fills us once more with faith and power and purpose.

This Sunday we'll see that maybe, just maybe doubt and faith aren't polar opposites of each other but instead steps along the journey that lead to the very blessings of God.


John 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

The Purpose of This Book

 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

Thank You!

Holy Week was truly spectacular at First Christian Church Scottsdale and with so many services and so many things going on there are so many folks to thank!

A big word of thanks to the youth from our church and the CCF-er's from all over the Arizona Region (they had an overnight event here) who helped usher in Holy Week with the Palm Procession on Palm/Passion Sunday. Thanks to Jeannie Thompson for helping to organize it and make it happen! A special word of thanks to Daryl Marinkovich who did more than double duty as our liturgist that morning in helping me to read through the Passion Story from scripture.

I need to say a special word of thanks to our Worship Committee who worked unbelievably hard behind the scenes to make sure that everything came together. They rearranged and redecorated the sanctuary four times in eight days during Holy Week! Thank you to Dorothy and Carrie for leading the Worship Team and for Wanda, Jean, Charlie, Sandi, Daryl, and everyone else who pitched in!

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the Maundy Thursday worship service where we premiered Doug Durant's Holy Week Cantata "The Triumph of Sacrific". It was a remarkable evening and such a moving way to hear the stories of our faith through music and scripture and personal reflection. Our deepest thanks go out to the members of the Chancel Choir: Charlie, Al, Bob, Shirley, Sandi, me, Harriet, Lloyd, Don, Kay, Michelle, Liz, Cathy, Beth, Christy, and Nancy. Thanks to the wonderful chamber orchestra: Tavit Tashjian, Flora Mogerman, Karen Wevursky, Andrew Bukowinski, and Jerome Salazar. Thanks to our worship leaders who shared words of scripture and their own personal reflections, you all were amazingly moving: Doug, Daryl, Michelle, Al, and Sandi. Thank you to Judy Stall for leading us through communion and Bob Stall for running the sound board and visual presentation. Thank you to all 150 folks in attendance that night. And of course, thank you to Doug Durant for creating such a wonderful, original work and allowing us at First Christian Church to be a part of bringing your words and music to life.

Thank you to Sandi DeFeo for organizing the Prayer and Meditation time in the Sanctuary on Good Friday and for setting the scene so beautifully with your piano playing.

Thank to the huge work day crew that showed up on Saturday to help clean up the grounds and make all things beautiful for our Easter Sunday celebration.

Thank you to the ladies of DWM for putting on a delicious Easter Sunday Breakfast. It was such a terrific way to start Easter morning -- seeing so many of our brothers and sisters in the church sitting down in fellowship together for a scrumptious breakfast! Thanks to Jeannie and all of her helpers for leading the Easter Egg Hunt. Thank you to Jessie and Ariel for being with the kids in the Nursery, for Carolyanne for leading Worship and Wonder, and for Judy for leading the Children's Sermon. And of course, thank you to all 180 folks in attendance n Easter Sunday as we celebrated the gift of new life that we know through the Resurrected Christ!

I know there are more people to thank and I have surely (accidentally) left folks off of this list. Please know that I am grateful for all that you do and that the significance and power of Holy Week and the fullness of the celebration of Easter would not have been possible without you all. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Newsbrief: Holy Week

In the midst of a very busy Holy Week, I’m pulling the old newsletter trick of borrowing something that someone else wrote!

It is one of my favorite poems and it comes from a poet who just so happened to be a member of the church I served back in seminary. His name is Mark Jarman and this is number 11 in his collection titled “Unholy Sonnets”. It can be found in his book of poetry Questions for Ecclesiastes.

Half asleep in prayer I said the right thing
And felt a sudden pleasure come into
The room or my own body, In the dark,
Charged with a change of atmosphere, at first
I couldn’t tell my body from the room.
And I was wide awake, full of this feeling,
Alert as though I’d heard a doorknob twist,
A drawer pulled, and instead of terror knew
The intrusion of an overwhelming joy.
I had said thanks and this was the response.
But how I said it or what I said it for
I still cannot recall and I have tried
All sorts of ways all hours of the night.
Once was enough to be dissatisfied.

I hope to see you tonight for our Maundy Thursday Service, on Friday when the Sanctuary will be open from 10-2 for prayer and meditation, and of course on Sunday morning for our Easter Worship Service.

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Whiteboard: Holy Week

We are right in the middle of the most significant eight day stretch of the year here at the church.

It is Holy Week, that difficult road that leads from Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his betrayal, sham of a trial, and crucifixion on the cross before bringing us to the promise of new life and resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Here is what is on my Whiteboard this week:

We have several things happening here at the church for Holy Week.

Maunday Thursday April 5, 2012 at 7PM 
Please join us for the world premier of "The Triumph of Sacrifice" a Holy Week Cantata written and directed by our Music Director Doug Durant.

Good Friday April 6, 2012 from 10AM until 2PM
The Sanctuary will be open for Prayer and Meditation, with our very own Sandi DeFeo setting the mood by playing piano in the background.

Easter Sunday April 8, 2012
Easter breakfast will begin at 8:30 in the Fellowship Hall.
An Easter Egg Hunt will take place out on the church lawn during the Sunday School Hour.
The Easter Sunday worship service will begin at 10:15AM in the Sanctuary.

Publicity: The Triumph of Sacrifice

Did you see the feature story from the Arizona Republic about our very own Doug Durant and this week's Holy Week Cantata "The Triumph of Sacrifice"?

Well, if you missed it (or just want to read it again!) then click here for the story.

The world premier of "The Triumph of Sacrifice" will take place at First Christian Church Scottsdale during our Maundy Thursday Worship Service on April 5, 2012 at 7PM in the Sanctuary. For more details and information please click here.