Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hope Team Cohort Meeting

Last Saturday members of our Hope Partnership Team here at FCC Scottsdale met with the Hope Partnership Teams from the six other Arizona Disciples Congregations for our first Cohort Meeting.

Let me take a step back to explain the process.

You'll remember that the Hope Partnership is our denomination's effort to help revitalize local congregations by getting us more authentically engaged in our neighborhood community. You'll also remember that our Hope Team had two different weekend long leadership retreats that they took part in last year alongside the Hope Teams from the six other Arizona Disciples congregations that are going through the Hope Partnership process (that is FCC Mesa, Foothills Christian Church, FCC Tucson, Capilla del Sol, Community Christian Church in Marana and Saguaro Christian Church).

The purpose of the Cohort Meeting was to get all of our Hope Teams back together for a sharing and accountability sessions. What have we been up to since the last leadership retreat? Have we followed up on any of the big dreams we dreamed together in the last summer of 2013? What victories can we celebrate? What roadblocks have we encountered? What lessons can we share with each and learn from each other? What ideas can we steal!

Naturally, we talked about "The Fifth With First!" Here is Rev. Al (along with a team of Red Shirts!) talking about the work we did, the partnership we struck up with Operation Fix It, our communications strategy with the church, and the steps we are taking to keep this project rolling.

It was a tremendous session filled with worship, conversation, experiential learning (including small group conversations about this NPR story), group presentations, and goal setting for the next steps at each of our congregations. We'll be getting together again sometime in September for the Cohort meeting so that we can continue sharing with one another, learning from one another, and praising God together for the great things that are happening with our Arizona Hope Partnership Congregations!

Whiteboard: Listen to Him

I was wondering if anyone would notice.

Then low and behold Kay (the first person to walk into my office after I put up this week's Whiteboard picture) said, "Oh, so last week we talked about hearing and this week we're talking about listening, eh?"

How great is that! That is exactly what is going on in our worship themes!

Last week we talked about hearing and this week we'll be talking about listening (and yes, there is a difference!).

This past Sunday Jesus told us, "You have heard it said...but I say unto you" by way of contrasting what we hear from the ways of the world with the truth and power that we hear from the ways of the Lord; you can listen to last week's sermon "Hearing Things" by clicking here).

This coming Sunday is the Transfiguration, which means we'll be talking about mountaintop experiences and more directly about what God tells us to listen for/to in our lives. Here's a hint: Read verse 5 below!

It is more than just hearing him, it is a matter of listening to him (and yes, there is a difference!).

Come join us this Sunday to hear more...wait, I mean to listen for more!

Rev. Brian


Matthew 17:1-9 The Transfiguration
17Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 
3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 
5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whiteboard: Eye for an Eye

This Sunday's sermon scripture follows an interesting rhetorical pattern.

Jesus says "You have heard....but I tell you..."

And he doesn't just say it once. No, he does it twice.
‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.'
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'
Jesus is contrasting the ways of the world ("You have heard it said...") with the ways of God ("But I say to you..."). It would easy to dismiss those ways of the world as ancient conceptions that need not bother our modern sensibilities. It would be easy to think that; and wrongheaded too.

We still hear an eye-for-an-eye and we still hear hate your enemies in today's world. What's more, we hear all sorts of other vain glories and selfish attempts by the ways of the world to lay claim souls, to take ownership over us, and to impose themselves at the center of our lives. Christ Jesus calls us beyond all of that nonsense. He calls us past the shallow, greedy, empty promises of the world to the fullness of life lived in God's name. And those are not the same thing. They weren't when Jesus first uttered "You have heard...but I tell you..." and they aren't today.

So the question for us this Sunday becomes: What have you heard?

What have you heard the world telling you? And what ways do the promises of the good news of the gospel replace those hollow words with a life that is worth living?

Come join us this Sunday in worship at First Christian Church Scottsdale as we seek and celebrate God's ways of love, grace, forgiveness, and transformation!


Matthew 5:38-48
‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Prayers for FCC Scottsdale

Check out what we got in the mail today!

(Note: Click on the pages to see full-screen version.)

Thank you, Rev. Cynthia and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ at FCC Casper!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Photos from the 50th

This past Sunday FCC Scottsdale celebrated our 50th Anniversary!

It was a wonderful day filled with memories, celebrations, hopes and dreams.

You can listen to Rev. Brian's sermon from the morning worship service by clicking here.

Enjoy a small sampling of the photos from the day right here on the Blog, or visit the church's Facebook Page to see even more photos of the festivities!

Whiteboard: Week of Compassion

It is always nice when one of our denominational partners does artistic work for me for the Whiteboard.

This week I've hung the official poster for Week of Compassion on my Whiteboard (okay, I confess, I drew the frame around it!).

Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. It seeks to equip and empower disciples to alleviate the suffering of others through disaster response, humanitarian aid, sustainable development and the promotion of mission opportunities.

Our Week of Compassion theme this year is "We are One" and is taken from John 17:20-26, which is Christ's prayer for all of those who will follow in his ministry. Which is to say, it is Christ's prayer for us, for all of those who work and minister and serve in his name. 

Here is a close-up of that poster and our theme. 

Week of Compassion formally kicks off this coming Sunday and wraps up the Sunday after. In worship we’ll share stories about the wonderful work that happens, quite literally, all over the world through Week of Compassion.

For a breakdown of how your Week of Compassion dollars are spent, click here
For Leader's Guides, Worship Materials, Children's sermon, and mission stories, click here
For a description of our Week of Compassion mission partners, click here
For a description of how Week of Compassion responds to disasters and emergencies, click here.


John 17:20-26

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 
‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whiteboard: We Press On!

This Sunday we'll be celebrating our 50th Anniversary at FCC Scottsdale!

We've selected the theme "We Press On!" drawing on the Apostle Paul's reminder in Philippians 3:13-14 that we are not working for our own goals and personal agendas, but rather as a people of faith we "press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."

So we'll be celebrating our history while looking toward the fullness of the future that God is calling us to be a part of. We will praise God, we will welcome old friends (and new ones!), and we will all glory, laud, and honor to God!

You'll notice that the sanctuary looks a little bit different this Sunday. We'll have the original pulpit (the one that our founding pastor Rev. Ebed Hanna not only preached from, but actually brought to the church himself!), the old communion credenza serving as our Lord's Table, the wooden cross from our first Easter celebration, and a specially crafted pitcher and cup for our communion celebration that commemorates our 50th Anniversary. Here is a sneak peak at the communion ware, a custom made set, hand crafted by our very own Scott Jones...

And if you want a head start on my sermon for Sunday morning, check out this great article from 1964 trying to predict what life would be like in the far distant future of...2014!

I hope you'll join us this Sunday. It is going to be a wonderful homecoming and a tremendous opprotunity to praise God for what God has done, is doing, and will do! See you Sunday!

Rev. Brian


Philippians 3:1-14
Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. 

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more:circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.