Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whiteboard: Micah 6:8

What can I say...things are really busy in the church office this week as we get ready for the 50th Anniversary. So I didn't really have time to do a proper Whiteboard drawing.

We'll be focusing on Micah 6:8 this week in worship and what it means to be a 6:8 Church. I hope to see you on Sunday!


Micah 6:1-8

Hear what the Lord says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,
and you enduring foundations of the earth;
for the Lord has a controversy with his people,
and he will contend with Israel.

‘O my people, what have I done to you?
In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and redeemed you from the house of slavery;
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.’

‘With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Three Things: Elders

The Elders had their first meeting of the New Year on Tuesday evening January 28, 2014. Here are "The Three Things!" you need to know from that meeting:

1) New Elder Co-Chairs! Charlie Atkinson and Jeanne Thompson were unanimously elected as the Elder Co-Chairs for 2014. Please keep Charlie and Jeanne in your prayers this year as they assume this position of leadership among the spiritual leaders of our church.

2) Elder Recruitment. The Elders will be putting a special emphasis on recruitment this year. We have an unusually high number of Elders who will be finishing their terms of service at the end of this year, and so we want to proactive in identifying and training up folks to serve as the spiritual leaders of the church. Do not be surprised if an Elder approaches you to talk about what it means to serve in this capacity and what spiritual gifts they see at work in you.

3) The Elders Retreat is coming! Our Elders will gather for a time a Retreat in March (most likely March 8, but we are still ironing out the details). It will be a time for the Elders to deepen their faith, learn from one another's perspectives,and set up some of the practices that will help them to be successful in 2014. 

Three Things: Administrative Council

The 2014 Administrative Council had their first meeting of the year on Sunday January 19 immediately following worship. Here are "The Three Things!" you need to know from that meeting.

1) The Financial Forecast for 2014 is looking good! Thanks to the success of the 2013 Matching Fund and the Nehemiah Fund we are beginning the year with a carry over balance that will help underwrite our budget. With your continued faithfulness to your pledges and offerings the budget is solid shape for 2014.

2) The 50th Anniversary is coming! We have over 200 RSVP's for our 50th Anniversary Celebration on February 2014. We'll have a worship service at 10:15, a catered brunch at Noon, and a Special Celebration at 1:30. Come and be a part of the festivities!

3) Sandi DeFeo has officially taken over as our Interim Director of Music Ministries. With Deidra having moved to Illinois to be with her husband, Sandi is taking over as Director of Music Ministries on an interim basis. We'll begin a full search for our next Director of Music Ministries shortly, but in the meantime we are blessed to have Sandi filling this role again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Whiteboard: Names of God

This Sunday we'll be talking about the Mighty Names of God. We'll be building off of Isaiah's declaration about the Messiah (and the various names we know him by) as well as Matthew's reminder that we are invited to be "fishers of men and women".

Isaiah 9:1-7

The Righteous Reign of the Coming King

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
   on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
   you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
   as with joy at the harvest,
   as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
   and the bar across their shoulders,
   the rod of their oppressor,
   you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
   and all the garments rolled in blood
   shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
   a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
   and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
   and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
   He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
   from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 

Matthew 4:12-23

Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
   on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
   have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
   light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Whiteboard: MLK

It is MLK Weekend, and we'll be honoring the faithful witness and example of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Sunday in our worship service.

For the first few years after Henry was born my family and I honored Dr. King on MLK Day by going out to a bookstore and picking up a children's book about Dr. King that my wife and I could read to our son (in more recent years as Henry has gotten bigger we've started showing him video clips of Dr. King's speeches and sermons in addition to reading his books).

This year in my sermon I'll be sharing excerpts from my favorite book of Henry's, one called Martin's Big Words. The book takes some of the words and phrases that were fundamental to Dr. King's work and uses them to challenge us to continue living out our faith and building the beloved community.

As such, the Whiteboard this week is a reflection one of Dr. King's better known quotes: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Come join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale as we gather in worship to celebrate the light of God that we know through Jesus Christ and through those faithful disciples who shine in his name.

FCC Scottsdale 50th Anniversary

Our 50th Anniversary is right around the corner!

And we have big plans for that day (February 9, 2014 by the way) including a special worship service at 10:15, Brunch at Noon, and a Afternoon Program at 1:30. We are expecting a big crowd, but to help us get a sense of just how many folks will be there we're accepting RSVP's to help the planning committee to prepare appropriately. Each Sunday in January we are including a yellow RSVP insert in the Sunday morning bulletin -- just fill it out and drop it in the basket in the narthex. Or you can always call or email us in the church office and we'll make sure we have included in the totals.

Yesterday our faithful 50th Anniversary Planning Team met for their final planning session (they'll still be meeting for a few more work days in advance of the celebration, but this was the last "committee style" meeting). They have done tremendous work over the last 18 months to get us ready for our 50th Celebration. I cannot thank our Pastor Emeritus, the Rev. Don Jones enough for chairing our committee and leading our group of volunteers forward.

The 50th Anniversary Planning Team includes (pictured below from left to right): Liz Leach, Don Jones, Joan Brune, Carolann Prast, Marilyn White, Brian Frederick-Gray, and Curt McCormick as well as Jan Atkinson (unpictured).

The Fifth With First Photos

On December 29, 2013 First Christian Church Scottsdale officially kicked off a new Outreach Ministry.

We are calling it "The Fifth with First" which is our shorthand slang for "the fifth Sunday with First Christian Church Scottsdale."

You see, on those months with five Sundays (and there are four of them every year) we take that fifth Sunday to do something different with our worship service. While there is still a 10:15 worship service that happens in our sanctuary (although admittedly it is streamlined and paired down that day) we also have a second service that happens that same morning.

We call it "Workship" (see what we did there!) and it involves members of the church meeting at a nearby part for a very brief prayer service. We have scripture, we sing a hymn, and we share in communion all in order to prepare us for the good work (the faithful, faith-filled, holy work) we have in front of us.

We've partnered with Operation Fix-It here is Scottsdale, an amazing organization that helps pair local, neighborhood homeowners in need (folks who for whatever reason cannot keep up with their property) with local groups and organizations who want to lend a helping hand.

December 29, 2013 was our very first "The Fifth with First" and it was a tremendous success. To hear a little bit more about it in sermon form then click here. To see some of the pictures from the day, just scroll down!

For more photos and stories from the day please visit our Facebook Page at

Whiteboard: Catching Up

Now that we are through the Christmas Season, my holiday travels, and an early 2014 Clergy Retreat, it is time to get caught back up on The Blog!

Here are the last several week's worth of Whiteboard posts complete with a link to the corresponding sermon the church website!

 With the Christ Candle lit this could mean only one thing: the celebration of Christ's birth
(in our hearts and in our world) on Christmas Eve. Click here to listen to my
Christmas Eve homily entitled "An Answer to Prayer."

 Okay, you caught me. This isn't a Whiteboard picture. Instead it is a photo card of my son Henry
and my nephew Ben wishing you a Happy New Year. I was in Texas most of that week, so I
didn't have access to The Whiteboard in my office, but I did still make it back in timeto preach my first sermon of 2014 entitled "What Will It Bring?"

Did you know that the holiest day of the year for the early church wasn't Christmas or Easter?
It wasn't Pentecost or Good Friday or Maundy Thursday either. The holiest day of the year
for the early church was the day they celebrated The Baptism of Christ. Which got me thinking
about "The Fifth With First" and the most holy day of 2014. Click here to listen to