Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Commanding Love

The disciples must have been on the edge of their seats.

With a build up like that, how could they not be.

Jesus goes on at length about how he has been glorified and in the process that has given glory to God and how he won't be with the disciples for very much longer and where he is going they cannot come and so he is leaving them with one commandment.

They've got to be just dying with anticipation when he says that. "I give you a new commandment..."

I picture a pregnant pause.

Just long enough to capture everyone's attention, to make sure they were really listening, really ready for what he was about to say.

And lets be honest, he could have said anything right there.

He could have said, "Preach the good news to the ends of the earth!" or "Obey everything I ever told you!" or "Be perfect in all your actions as God is perfect!" or "Write all this stuff down so that other people will know about thousands of years from now."

He could have said anything right there, but what he said was, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."

The he continues "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

And nothing has ever been the same.


John 13:31-35 -- The New Commandment

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Family Promise Build

This past Saturday about a dozen members from our church went to work at the Family Promise Emergency Shelter here in Scottsdale.

With the support of our Outreach Ministries Team our volunteers helped to complete a concrete pad that will serve as the foundation for a series of new storage sheds for Family Promise.

If you don't know about Family Promise (and the remarkable work they do to help homeless families in our area) then jump over to their website by clicking here and particularly here. If you do know Family Promise then won't you "like" them on Facebook by clicking here.

Here are some of the photos from the day. Thanks to all of our volunteers who helped make the project happen!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Congratulations to the Youth Group for a successful Car Wash Fundraiser on Sunday.

They raised $543.43 for Camp Scholarships.

That brings the year's total for Camp Scholarships raised to $1455!

And I'm proud to report that we have EIGHT members of our youth group heading to camp this summer!

Whiteboard: My Shepherd

Two scripture passages this week, each one lifting up a familiar image: The Shepherd.

This Sunday we will talking about what it means to say "The Lord is my Shepherd" and to call Jesus "the Good Shepherd."

I'll see you Sunday.


John 10:22-30 The Good Shepherd

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’

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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Newsbrief: 271


I can’t believe it.

Look at that number again: 271!

That is how many items you all donated to Vista Del Camino last Sunday. What a blessing! What a gift!

Remember, all throughout the month of April every item that we donate to Vista Del Camino is matched with a $1 cash donation from the Finestein Foundation.

Which means that we really do need to look at that number again, but it also doubles as the amount of money that Vista Del Camino received in addition to your generous contributions. That is $271 that will help make a difference for the most vulnerable in our community.

AND, it doesn’t stop there. We have the entire month to continue collecting nonperishable food items for Vista Del Camino that will be matched with a financial gift from the Finestein Foundation. So that can of vegetables you donate will also bring in an extra dollar to Vista Del Camino. That box of cereal means an extra dollar. If you bring in a three cases of canned good (like one generous church member did) that is $36 for Vista Del Camino that is over and above the 36 cans that will go into the food pantry.

So keep those donations coming. You can find the Collection Bin in the Fellowship Hall and we’ll make sure it gets to Vista Del Camino before the end of the month so that your donation is eligible for the matching grant as well!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Whiteboard: What Peter Said

It is a familiar passage.

A resurrected Jesus approaches Peter and asks him "Do you love me?"

Peter responds, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Then Jesus says, "Feed my lambs." 

Jesus asks again, Peter responds again, and Jesus says, "Tend my sheep."

Jesus asks again, Peter responds again (agitated this time), and Jesus says, "Feed my sheep."

Now, what if I told you that familiar passage isn't about love.

And it isn't about going out in service.

And it isn't about...well, it isn't about sheep but you probably about got that!

It is about forgiveness. 

The resurrected Christ appears to Peter -- the same Peter who just a few short chapters ago denied Jesus three times -- and gives him the chance to affirm Christ three times. 

It is a powerful passage. Peter has been lost and adrift since denying Jesus. It appears that he's given up and simply gone back to his old ways. He's fishing again, after all. 

Yet he encounters the risen Christ and resurrection comes to Peter too.

We've been talking this Easter season about how resurrection is about new life; how resurrection takes all your pain, all your hurt, all your sins, all your fears and transforms them through the power of God's promises into something new, into a life worth living. And that's what happens to Peter. 

Peter is forgiven. Peter is commissioned. Peter goes forth to truly earn his name as the Rock on which the church was built. 

Thanks be to God for the gifts of forgiveness, resurrection, and new life.


John 21:15-19 -- Jesus and Peter

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Whiteboard: Doubt

Isn't it funny that the first story we hear after Easter is about doubt?

We come down from this marvelous celebration of Christ's resurrection and the next Sunday what do we have...doubt.

Our questions linger. Our doubts pervade. Our fears sneak in and that little voice in the back of our brains starts talking down to us again.

So maybe it isn't funny that the story of Doubting Thomas and the Disbelieving Disciples is the first thing that greets us right after our Easter Sunday Celebration. Maybe it is exactly what we need to hear.

Oh, as for the picture I was going for a bit of a visual and verbal pun. I thought with a slight tweak I could change the familiar logo for Shout Stain Remover into a clever reference to this Sunday's sermon scripture about Doubting Thomas...but then I ended up having to explain what it was to most folks who looked at it, which usually means the reference didn't work! Anyway, join us this Sunday as we continue the Season of Easter with a resurrection appearance of Jesus to his disciples and help us to celebrate the gift of New Life!


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.