Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whiteboard: Love Letter

Lets flip things around this week. Lets start with the words from scripture right from the top instead of listing them at the bottom of the blog post. 
1 Corinthians 13 
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Okay, so be honest. When you read those holy words of scripture you can't help but think of...a wedding, right?

1 Corinthians 13 is the go to scripture passage for weddings. And it makes sense, doesn't it. The Apostle Paul has painted this beautiful picture of the gift of the love -- love's power, love's purpose, and perhaps most importantly how we live in love.

But here is the thing. The Apostle Paul wasn't looking to write the ideal wedding reading. He was writing to a church in Corinth that was deeply divided; a church that needed a reminder on what it means to live in community. So 1 Corithians 12:1-11 tells us about the many gifts that are activated by the one Spirit of God. And 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 tells us about the many members that come together to form the one Body of Christ. It is unity created from diversity, and now we find out that love is the all compelling force that binds us together. True community is rooted in love. The love of God that is revealed to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. The love that we embody when we share it in the fullness of community. And that is a message that we need to hear more often than just at weddings...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Three Things: Elders Meeting

The Elders had their first meeting of 2013 on Thursday January 17. Here are "The Three Things" we want you to know from that meeting:
  1. We welcomed our new Elders aboard!
    I am delighted to share that we have a full slate of Elders this year -- 12 in all! Our newest Elders are Bob Bruns, Curt McCormick, Jean Decker, and Marilyn White who join Sue Travis (Chair), Carrie Phillips, Marilyn Lagesse, Patty Shaffer, Al Beasley, Julie Erickson, Charlie Atkinson, and Scott Eubanks. What a great group!
  2. We reviewd the 2013 Elder Visitation List
    The Elders are the Spiritual Leaders of our church and an important part of their work is their visitation ministry with our members. In order to keep up with each other's visits and keep up with the needs of our church we use email and an online Visitation List. At each meeting we touch base about the needs the members and the prayer concerns we have to lift up.
  3. We are planning our 2013 Elders Retreat
    At the beginning of the year the Elders spend a Saturday together on retreat. It is a time of prayer, community building, and sharing best practices with one another so that we can best serve this community. We are still negotiating calendars in order to find a date for that Retreat. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3 Things: Administrative Council

The Administrative Council had their first meeting of 2013 this past Sunday immediately following Worship. Here are "The Three Things" we want you to know from that meeting!

  1. The Nehemiah Project will be addressing the budget shortfall
    You'll be hearing a lot more about the Nehemiah Project in the coming weeks (in preparation you can read the Book of Nehemiah to celebrate God's faithfulness and support!). For now, just know that our Moderator Sandi DeFeo is putting together a team of folks to help us with fundraisers to fill our anticipated budget shortfall.
  2. Your Property Improvement Project Update
    I'm happy to report that after completing all of the projects (ahead of schedule and under budget, I might add!) we have only $16,792 remaining on our loan from Church Extension. The even better news: We have pledges that will cover that expense...so long as everyone with outstanding PIP Pledges will honor their pledge! So keep those PIP donations coming in!
  3. Hope Partnership
    As part of my Pastor's Report I shared a thorough update on the 2-year Hope Partnership Process. We will be working together with six other Arizona Disciples Congregations (Foothills, FCC Mesa, FCC Tucson, Saguaro, Capilla del Sol, Community Christian in Marana) as we take on the challenge of being the church not only for today but also for tomorrow. Following our Hope Partnership Kick-Off Retreat I am very excited about the opportunities before us and I'm looking forward to good things that the Hope Partnership will enable us to do together!

Whiteboard: One Body

Last week we heard the good word from the Apostle Paul that there are Many Gifts and One Spirit of God. 

This week we pick up right where scripture left off and follow that same "Many, One" Pattern.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul tells us that there are "Many Members" that make up the "One Body."

The truly remarkable part of that equation is that the "One Body" Paul is talking about is the Body of Christ. That is to say, we are the Body of Christ. We are the Body of Christ alive and at work in the world.

Individually we are members of that one body and while we all have important rolls to play, none of us is more important than any other.

Paul is describing what it means to live in Christian Community...and he uses this extended body metaphor to hammer home the point. "If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?"

A community of faith is filled with all sorts of folks with all sorts of different callings, abilities, skills, and blessings...and that is just the way God intended it. This diversity, this difference isn't just a necessary by-product of living in community, it is a part of God's design from the very beginning!


1 Corinthians 12:12-31 -- One Body with Many Members

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hope Partnership: Experience 1

This past weekend 8 leaders from our First Christian Church Scottsdale joined with the leaders of six other Arizona Disciples congregations for the kick-off retreat for Hope Partnership.

(Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out this earlier post. This one too. And even this one!)

It was a terrific event. We had 60+ people in attendance despite the freezing cold weather at Camp Pinerock in Prescott (we saw an overnight low of 8-degrees! but did I mention what a cheap price we had!).

We'll be talking a lot about what all we learned at Experience 1 (the formal name for the retreat, and yes there will be an Experience 2 later in the year) and about the full two-year process with Hope Partnership. But before we get there I wanted to share some photos from the event in order to do some introductions and hopefully to capture just a little bit of the energy and excitement that we all felt at Experience 1 this weekend.

Our Regional Minister Denny Williams welcomes us to Experience 1
Participating congregations included: First Christian Church Scottsdale, 
FCC Tucson, FCC Mesa, Foothills Christian Church, Capilla del Sol,
Community Christian Church in Marana, and Saguaro Christian Church.

Our Fearless (if chilly!) Leaders for the Weekend
Rick Morse (on the right, Vice President for Missional Development at Hope Partnership)
and Paul Hopkins (on the left, Hope Partnership Clergy Peer Group Facilitator) led
our weekend retreat and will walk with us through the 2-year Hope Partnership process.

Our FCC Scottsdale Team
Here is our 8-member Experience 1 Hope Partnership Team!
Pictured are: (top row) me, Bob B., Carol T., Bob S.
(bottom row) Al B., Monica C., Shirley B., and Rev. Judy

 Our Team and "Blue Tarp"
Experience 1 is set up as an experiential learning time where church
leaders learn to ask new questions, explore creativity, and work on the
skills we need to bring energy, vitality, and purpose to our churches.
One such excercise was "Blue Tarp" and...well, you'll just need to
ask our team members about it!

Worshiping and Singing Praises to the Lord  
All of Experience 1 was rooted and grounded and worship. We not only
bracketed the event with an opening and closing worship service, we had
opening and closing worship every single day as well as multiple opportunities
for prayer thoughout the day. Here is our Music Leader David (shared with us
by our good friends at Foothills Christian Church) who used his gift of music
to help guide us throughout the retreat.

Food Fosters Fellowship
Our team sitting down to lunch together, enjoying a time of camraderie
while at the same time unpacking some of the lessons from the day
and the skills we are developing. 

 No really, you are going to want to talk to them about Blue Tarp!


For the next few weeks we'll be journeying together through 1 Corinthians in our worship service, and what better place to start than 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and its reminder that there are MANY GIFTS, but ONE SPIRIT of GOD!

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be
uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led
 astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that
 no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and
no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties
of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is
 the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the
manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.To one is given through
 the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge
 according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another
gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another
prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of
tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one
and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

What a blessing to serve a God who blesses us with such an abundance and diversity of gifts! 

And it begs the question: What gifts do you bring? In what ways has God uniquely and completely blessed you? And how can you use those gifts to serve God's purposes? We'll be exploring those questions as we sing, pray, and praise God together this coming Sunday at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hope Partnership

This weekend a group of 8 leaders from First Christian Church Scottsdale will be joining with members of five other Arizona Disciples Congregations for the Kick-Off Event for Hope Partnership.

Now, we've been talking about Hope Partnership for a while here in the church. It is our denomination's new effort for congregational vitality and development, and I am really excited that FCC Scottsdale is going to be a part of it!

Leading up to the Kick-Off Retreat Weekend (known as "The Experience") I wanted to share some resources with you about Hope Partnership. So here we go:

Hope Partnership’s purpose is to empower courageous leaders as they guide the Church into life-giving expressions of ministry for this new era of God’s mission.

Hope Partnership is a collaboration of Church Extension, Disciples Home Missions, Higher Education and Leadership Ministries and other general ministry, regional, congregational, ecumenical and community partners.

You can learn more about Hope Partnership by clicking here and here and you can "like" them on Facebook  by clicking here.

I'll be taking photos, collecting stories, and gathering resources at "The Experience" and will have a follow-up Blog post for you early next week!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Whiteboard: Hope Partnership

I normally use the Whiteboard to put up a picture that is related to what I'll be preaching on for this coming Sunday. This way I'll have a visual reminder all week long of what I am supposed to be working on. Since we tend to work on things several weeks in advance in the church office my biggest fear is that I'll get my Sundays mixed up and will spend all week writing the wrong sermon!

But this week, the Whiteboard has something different on it. 

You see, I'll be out of the pulpit this coming Sunday, and will be off at a Leadership Development/Congregational Vitality Event. This weekend is the official Kick-Off of Hope Partnership in Arizona. We've been talking about it for a while in the church, but just to recap: Hope Partnership is a new effort to bring renewed life, energy, and purpose to our existing Disciples churches. This will be an intentional two-year program of prayer, leadership development, best practices, study, mentoring, and working with our fellow Disciples congregations. Hope Partnership’s purpose is to empower courageous leaders as they guide the Church into life-giving expressions of ministry for this new era of God’s mission.

This weekend we begin our journey with Hope Partnership. 

First Christian Church Scottsdale is one of six Arizona Disciples congregations taking part in Hope Partnership. We are joined by Capilla del Sol, Community Christian in Marana, Foothills Christian Church, Saguaro Christian Church, and First Christian Church Tucson.

We have eight members of our congregation heading to the Kick Off Event this weekend: Rev. Judy and Bob Stall, Shirley and Bob Bruns, Carol Tidrow, Monica Case, Al Beasley, and myself. 

While we are away for the weekend I am asking folks to specifically pray for our team of representatives and all six participating Disciples congregations. As a people of faith we are firmly convinced that this process of vitality and renewal will only work if the entire thing is rooted in prayer, so I thank you in advance for your prayers both those weekend and throughout the two-year process. 


For those folks who like to read The Whiteboard posts to learn a little something about this coming Sunday's worship service I have good news for you! While I am out of the pulpit this Sunday I am overjoyed to announce that our Pastor Emeritus the Reverend Don Jones will be bringing the sermon and the Praise Team will be leading us in some Gospel Sunday singing!