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."

Whiteboard: Children's Sabbath

This Sunday we will celebrate the Children's Sabbath in our worship service!

And we are going to do it in a unique introducing some of the elements from our Worship and Wonder Program directly into the worship service. So you'll get a chance to experience the Worship and Wonder Story of Mark 10:13-16. You'll get to ask wondering questions and hear the scripture reading with new ears.

For folks who do not know about the Children's Sabbath here is brief excerpt from the Children's Defense Funds website:
Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Celebration is a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect and advocate for all children."
Join us this Sunday for the Children's Sabbath and make sure to bring the children in your life (kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, next door neighbors...) so that they can celebrate this special worship service with us!


Mark 10:13-16 -- Jesus Blesses Little Children

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Before Picture

The pumpkins arrive this Saturday at 11AM.

Our Pumpkin Patch Prep Team has been hard at work getting everything ready. The pallets are laid out, the canopies are put together, the lights have been strung, and the trailer is all decorated.

All we need is pumpkins...and plenty of folks to help us unload them!

Come join us this Saturday morning at 11AM to help unload pumpkins and make the 2012 Pumpkin Patch Outreach Fundraiser a whopping success!

I'll see you there!

{By the way, check back next week for The After Picture and see how the patch turned out!)

Whiteboard: Rich Young Ruler Revisited

The Rich Young Ruler approaches Jesus with a question. He wants to know about eternal life, and in the ensuing conversation the Rich Young Ruler brags about himself a little before having his entire life rocked by Jesus' response.

The Rich Young Ruler asks, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" and after a brief exchange Jesus tells him, "There's just one thing that you haven't done. Go sell all that you own, give the money to the poor, and then come and follow me."

The Rich Young Ruler walks away with his head in his hands. He is stunned. He is grieved. He is unsure of what to do next, because he has lots and lots of stuff.

It is a challenging teaching from Christ this week. And it is quickly followed by another one. 

Scripture tells us that as the Rich Young Ruler walked away Jesus turned to his Disciples (his closest followers, those had given up so much in order to quite truly follow him) and said to them "It is hard for wealthy folks to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." The Disciples are perplexed by this and Jesus continues, making things even harder, "Listen, it is hard for anyone to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You'd have better luck stuffing a camel through the eye of a needle!" Everybody listening is now greatly distressed and they start asking each other, "Can you do that? Because I can't do that. And if nobody can do that then how can anybody be saved?" 

Which seems to be the entire point of the teachings. 

Jesus looks at them, looks at us, and says, "For mortals it is impossible; but not for God. For God all things are possible." 

So this week in worship (and on the Whiteboard as you can see) we're exploring what is impossible and what is possible. That is my version of a redesigned Mission:Impossible logo up on the Whiteboard -- a reminder that for us some things may be impossible, but glory and hallelujah we worship a God who makes all things possible! See you on Sunday.