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