Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Whiteboard: 50

I'm out of the pulpit for one final time this summer, as my wife, son, and I head to St. Louis this weekend to celebrate Susan's parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary.

 Thus the big 5-0 on the Whiteboard this week.

While I am away our newest member the Rev. Kevin Adams will fill the pulpit and deliver a sermon on the nature and importance of the Lord's Supper for us as Disciples of Christ. With the evocative title "What is the definition of 'Is'?" he'll be drawing from Matthew 26:26-29 where Jesus says, "This is my body, broken for you."


The 5-0 on the Whiteboard could just as easily signify the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, which happened half-a-century ago today. In commemoration of this historic event, here are a handful of resources about the March that I've been touched by:

Hopeful Thoughts on Hope Video

We had a hiccup with our computer system on Sunday which prevented me from being able to show this video at the tail end of my sermon.

It rather perfectly captures the point of our journey with the Hope Partnership -- to be the hands and feet of Jesus alive and at work in the world by faithfully engaging with our neighborhood community. As we are learning to "dream those big dreams" this seems like a perfect place to start.

To hear the entire sermon, click here. To watch the video simply hit the play button below.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pics from Hope Partnership Experience 2

This past weekend I was in Globe, Arizona with about 70 other Disciples from across Arizona for our second Retreat Weekend with Hope Partnership. That gathered body included folks from 7 congregations (FCC Scottsdale, Foothills Christian Church, FCC Mesa, FCC Tucson, Saguaro Christian Church, Capilla del Sol, and Community Christian in Marana) and nine members of our church.

Here are a few photos (and a few short reflections) on what we were up to!

Our wonderful Hope Partnership Team: Monica, Al, Bob,
Shirley, Bob, Judy, Carol, and Nancy.
Not pictured: Me!
Our retreat site: The Dream Manor Inn
Who knew there was such a terrific facility in Globe, Arizona!
(Please Note: I was on the organizing committee for the event
and didn't realize the "bed and breakfast" that was hosting
our Retreat Weekend would be anything like this). The
Dream Manor Inn is a wonderful facility, situated on the top of
high hill in Globe, AZ and proudly owned and operated
by members of FCC Globe. 

A major theme of the Retreat Weekend was creativity -- finding
creative ways to engage our community, push past our obstacles,
and be "the hands and feet of Jesus" at work in our world.
The First Night we tackled the "Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge"
where we had to build the tallest tower we could out of 20 pieces
of spaghetti, a small selection of tape, and a marshmallow.
After prototyping, rearranging, and jumping right in, here is our creation.
Our table came in second!

The Weekend was filled with presentations, conversations, and
interactive sessions. This picture (though hard to see; don't worry
look below for clearer images) comes from the "High-Road Church vs.
Naughty Church" session. Each of the Post-It Notes in this pic contains
a word, phrase, or description that captures our dreams of the
church at its very best (i.e. The High-Road Church). 

High-Road Church
Pictured here are some of the dozens of Post-It Note Responses
such as "The Presence of God", "Justice" and "Discipleship Classes.
If you look closely you'll also see a cartoon depiction of a
Community Garden. The List also included words like "Going to Serve",
"Love", "Joy", "Diversity", "Purpose", "Open" and "Enthusiastic".

Naughty Church
And here is the opposite list. The words and phrases that describe
what we identified as "The Naughty Church". The picture includes
words and phrases like "Burnt Out Lightbulbs", "Sorry, we are closed",
and "Country Club Church". Other descriptors were "Judgmental",
"Complacency" and "Boring".
 We took those evocative words and phrases that describe the High-Road Church and then we started to dream together. What would the ideal church look like? How would it act? What would it do? What makes it different or distinct or unique? And instead of simply discussing those questions we engaged our creative minds through some hands-on, arts and crafts time! You want to know just how creative our Hope Team is here at FCC Scottsdale? Here are just a few of the art projects that members of our team created to represent the Dream Church God is calling us to be.

 First thing is first. We have some amazing artists in our church!

Second thing, the nine members from our church sat down together to talk about our art and then we created a written list of the themes that we saw occurring over and over again. That list included "Christ-Centered", "Open Doors", "Spiritual Growth", "Diversity", "Community", "Service", "Joy", "Loving Others", and "Acceptance."

We were supposed to simply list those words on a great big sheet of paper, but instead our team (feeling inspired and creative) did an impromptu artistic rendering that put Christ right at the center of our piece of paper and then the other words radiating out like rays from the sun.

We left the Hope Partnership Weekend Retreat inspired, excited, hope-filled, and...with homework! We are doing a 21-Day Challenge (more on that later) which means we have already had a follow-up meeting in the few days since our retreat, and at that meeting I put up our impromptu, artistic, list-like description of our Dream Church. The Hope Partnership and the 21-Day Challenge are going to help us get closer to being that "Dream Church" right here at FCC Scottsdale. You can look forward to hearing more about it and about how you can plug in and dream with us in the coming days, weeks, and months!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whiteboard: There is always hope

My Whiteboard picture this week is my hack-kneed version of one of the most famous pieces of graffiti in the world. 

Here is my version...

And here is the real version...

The real version is in the Southbank of London, and it was created by renowned artist Banksy. The art is known by many names. Some call it "The Balloon Girl" others call it "Red Heart" and still others call it "The Girl with the Red Balloon." But my favorite quasi-title for it is taken directly from the words that are stenciled in at the right edge of the piece -- "There is always hope".

Many have observed that the imagery itself feels sad -- a little girl has lost her balloon, that drifts away just out of reach -- and yet that stenciled text calls us back to a different place. After all, there is always hope. In fact, a keen observer might even note "It can symbolize loss, childhood floating away, the drifting away of dreams, or losing heart. But there is always hope. She can move forward just a bit and recapture it."

This week I'm thinking about hope.

Maybe it is because I am fresh off of the Hope Partnership Leadership Retreat that members of our church took part in. That bit of wordplay "Hope Partnership has me thinking about hope" is certainly working on me (and the sermon) this week.

But I think it is more.

It has to do with the sermon scripture that is waiting for us this week as well. The Psalmist tells us "You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth," and then continues "Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you."

So this Sunday we'll be talking about hope. About a powerful weekend retreat that will help shape the future story of our congregation. About a little girl reaching up for her balloon. About the Psalmist's powerful testimony. About the faithful refrain, "There is always hope." 


Psalm 71:1-6 Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Three Things from the Special Congregational Meeting

We had a Special Congregational Meeting (over lunch) in the Fellowship Hall following worship on Sunday.
Here are "The Three Things You Need to Know" from that meeting:

  1. We formally approved our very own Al Beasley as our Commissioned Minister of Visitation! After literally years of preparation including special coursework, regular meetings with the Arizona Commission on Ministry, prayerful consideration with myself (and several other ministers as they served this congregation), and in response to a true calling our unanimous congregational vote officially designates Rev. Al as our Commissioned Minister of Visitation. More details to follow about the Commissioning Service that will happen later this fall...
  2. The 2013 Matching Fund is underway! In response to the "Faith Budget" we passed for 2013 we have a $30,000 deficit to make up. We are blessed to have an anonymous donor who has offered to match any funds that come in over and above individuals regular pledges up to $10,000. It is a tremendous opportunity that God has given us! Letters went out in the mail earlier this week to let members and friends know about the 2013 Matching Fund. We'll be receiving pledges for the next 4 Sundays and will accept donations to the Matching Fund up to the middle of December.
  3. We have a marvelous leadership here at FCC Scottsdale! I am ever thankful for the steady, determined, faithful leadership of Sandi DeFeo, Bob Stall, and Carol Tidrow. As our Executive Team they not only planned an excellent Special Congregational Meeting, but they made their presentations with care and hope. They have put in countless volunteer hours serving our congregation, and we are blessed to have them as leaders of our congregation. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Whiteboard: Hope Partnership

Well, that is Hope Partnership's Logo up on the Whiteboard this week.

Which can mean only one thing...our second Hope Partnership Retreat Weekend is coming up!

This weekend I'll be away with the eight members of our Hope Partnership Team. We will be gathering with members from the six other Hope Partnership Churches in Arizona (Foothills, FCC Mesa, FCC Tucson, Saguaro, Community Christian in Marana, and Capilla del Sol) as well as leaders from Indianapolis (home of our Denominational Headquarters) for the second round of Hope Partnership Training.

It will be an amazing weekend with opportunities to worship, learn, sing, celebrate, grow in faith, and deepen our understanding of what it means to be the church in the world today.

Our Hope Partnership Team has been working hard to get our homework assignment ready for the weekend. We completed a 3-page Whitepaper Report on our church that includes information about our history, our church campus, our budget, how we spend our time, and the demographics of the community around us. It is a fascinating study that will be the key to our Hope Partnership Weekend.

When we return we'll have the opportunity to share that Whitepaper with different leadership groups in the life of our church (Administrative Council and the Membership Team are already planning on reviewing the materials; other groups will follow!).

While I am away this weekend, Sandi DeFeo will be filling the pulpit in order to bring a powerful message about Mary and Martha. You are going to love it!

So this weekend please keep our Hope Partnership Team in your prayers. In fact, please pray for all the Hope Partnership teams that will be gathering in Globe, Arizona this weekend, and pray for the leaders and facilitators who will be journeying with us as well!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Whiteboard: True Treasure

After a several week break from the Blog (I was in Spain for vacation over the last two weeks visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew) we are back in business!

This week scripture happens to overlap perfectly with the work of the church.

You see, this week's assigned scripture reading comes from Luke 12:32-40 and includes the well known line, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." That biblical admonition lines up with our Special Congregational Meeting for this Sunday where will be talking about fundraisers and revenue streams for the church. (Please Note: We'll also be affirming our very own Al Beasley as the Commissioned Minister of Visitation for our congregation! Please plan on attending this Special Congregational Meeting.)

So I couldn't help but put up a simple little something on the Whiteboard about our treasure and our hearts.


Luke 12:32-40

 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
 ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’