Thursday, May 29, 2014

Whiteboard: Acts 1

Last Sunday we heard Jesus' new commandment for us: "Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another."

This Sunday (which is Ascension Sunday, by the way) we'll hear Jesus' instructions for us: "You will be my the ends of the Earth."

It is a remarkable scene, and one that is shared only in Acts (not in any of the Four Gospels). In fact, you could really see it as the bridge between the Gospels (telling of Jesus' mission, ministry, and mighty acts) and Acts (telling of the wonderful work that has been done in Jesus' name by his disciples and followers).

Jesus and his disciples go up a high mountain and there Jesus offers some final, parting words of instruction. Then, amazingly (and with no explanation!) Jesus is lifted up and a cloud takes him out of their sight. He's gone. Just like that. And what an exit!

The disciples are standing there dumbstuck (or is it awestruck!) at the scene. They are staring blankly into the sky trying to figure out what exactly just happened and what they should do next. Suddenly two men in white robes are standing there. Their appearance is miraculous, their white-garb a dead giveaway that these are in fact angels, not merely men (although, interestingly the text never makes that point clear) and they deliver word of explanation, "Jesus has been taken up to heaven."

So the disciples take Jesus' last words of instruction to heart and they immediately run out and start sharing the good news of the gospel "to the ends of the Earth," right? Right?!?

Well, not exactly. They come down the mountain and do something else first. Something important. Something that we often forget and certainly take for granted. And that is what we'll be talking about in worship this Sunday! (How is that for a tease!)

Come join us this Sunday as we celebrate Christ's Ascension, strive to live into his final words of instruction, and seek to faithfully live out the example of his disciples. Oh, and we'll be commissioning our Church Campers this Sunday, so come and be a part of that too!


Acts 1:6-14 The Ascension of Jesus

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ 
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.
When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council held their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday May 18 in the Arizona
Room immediately after worship. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:

  1. Administrative Council formally blessed Sandi DeFeo as our Music Director.
    After serving as our Interim Director of Music Ministries for the past five months (and following much prayer and discernment and conversation with Rev. Brian) we'll be dropping the "Interim" tag as Sandi assumes the position as our Director of Music Ministries here at FCC Scottsdale!
  2. Education Task Force coming together. The recommendation of the Executive Committee and with the blessing of our Christian Education Ministry Team we will be establishing an Education Task Force to look the Christian Education needs of our church and build a plan for successfully filling those needs. More details on the Education Task Force will be coming in the weeks ahead!
  3. A Different Kind of Admin Council Meeting in July.
    We rescheduled our Administrative Council Meeting in July, moving it back a week to July 27, and instead of having a "regular" Administrative Council Meeting we'll be doing a midyear review. The members of the Administrative Council will go back to the list of goals that we set for ourselves at our January Retreat and see where we stand halfway through the year. What have we accomplished? What still needs more attention? What course corrections do we need to build in to the second half of 2014? We'll be tackling those questions (and more!) at our July 27 meeting. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Whiteboard: Love One Another

So if our scripture reading comes from John 14:15-21 then why does The Whiteboard have a quotation from John 13:35?

One little word: Commandment

In John 14 Jesus says, "If you love me you will keep my commandments." When you lift that line of scripture out of its context then it is easy to miss what exactly Jesus is saying to his Disciples. This is all part of the long goodbye in John, when Jesus knows that the end is near and is preparing his disciples for life without him. He has already washed their feet, he has already shared in his final meal with them in the upper room, and he has even revealed Judas as the one who will betray them and he is about to foretell Peter's three-fold denial. In the midst of this long goodbye in John 13 Jesus says, "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."

Did you catch the word? Right there in the middle of the first sentence, "commandment."

Jesus is giving his disciples his parting words before his betrayal and crucifixion, and what does he say? "Love one another as I have loved you." Then he hammers the point home one more time by turning the equation on its head. First he says unto them "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another," then he follows up (this week's scripture reading, John 14:15-21) by saying "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

Which means: If we love Jesus, then we must love one another just as Jesus loves us!

And that is why I have a quotation from John 13:35 on The Whiteboard when our scripture reading this week comes from John 14:15-21.


John 14:15-21 The Promise of the Holy Spirit

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 
‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

From the Keenagers

At the recent Keenagers Planning Meeting (note: The Keenagers are our 50+ Lunch Bunch here at
the church) Marilyn passed out a series of articles that demonstrate the importance of socialization for our senior citizens. In fact, social interaction may be as vital as physical activity for our seniors.

Getting out and spending time with others in crucially important, particularly for our seniors.

"It is important for us to recognize," Marilyn said, "that we aren't just doing something fun for ourselves when we come to the Keenager meetings and outings. We are also doing something to benefit the other members of our church. This social time is really important."

Below you'll find links the articles she passed out:

Studies Connect Socializing with Quality of Life

Socializing May Keep Minds Sharp

Socializing Key to Successful Aging

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Three Things: Elders

The Elders had their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday right after worship. Here are the
Three Things that you should know from that meeting!

  1. Visitations are Happening. The Elders went through our complete "Visitation List" and each Elder volunteered to call, contact, or visit one or more people on the list. Which is to say, everyone listed on our Visitation List will be contacted by an Elder in the next week or so.
  2. Visitation Cards. We will be working with Vista Print to create small business cards that the Elders can carry with them when they make home or hospital visits. This way if the person is sleeping or away for tests or procedures the Elders can drop off the card (with contact information about the church alongside the Elders name).
  3. Recruiting New Elders. The Elders are intentionally working on recruiting new Elders for next year. We are identifying people who we think have the right spiritual gifts to serve as Elders and over the summer we will start reaching out to those folks. It is an honor and a blessing to serve as one of the spiritual leaders of our congregation, and we have a church filled with great folks who could fill that role and share their blessings with the congregation. We'll be talking a lot more about this at our next meeting on June 29.

Whiteboard: The Sheepfold

This Sunday our scripture gives us some mixed metaphors.

On the one hand, Psalm 23 tells us that the Lord is our shepherd.

On the other hand, John 10:1-10 tells us that Jesus is the gate for the sheep.

While each of those metaphors shares something powerful about God, the one thing they both make abundantly clear is...that we are the sheep.

Kind of humbling, right?

Of all the animals in nature, they had to go with sheep?

Well, humility is a good sheep and, actually, being a sheep isn't all bad either.

Come join us for worship on the Fourth Sunday of Easter at First Christian Church Scottsdale to learn more about God, about ourselves, and about what it means to be a sheep!


John 10:1-10 Jesus the Good Shepherd

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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
my whole life long.

Disciples Mission Fund

We recently received this helpful infographic from the denominational office at Disciples Mission Fund gifts.

As a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we proudly tithe to Disciples Mission Fund (giving at least 10% of the offerings we receive) in order to support the wider work of the church.

Click on the image below to see a larger version of the infographic and to learn more about the Disciples Mission Fund!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Whiteboard: Walk to Emmaus

From the study notes in my copy of The New International Version: Student Bible:
Two of Jesus' followers are walking away from Jerusalem, downhearted and perplexed. Their dream of "the one who was going to redeem Israel" has died along with their leader on the cross.Still, they have heard wild rumors about an empty tomb. Was does it all mean?
A stranger appears beside the two forlorn disciples. At first he seems the only man alive who hasn't heard about the incredible week in Jerusalem. As he talks, however, it becomes clear that he knows more about what has happened than anyone else. Painstakingly, he traces the whole story, beginning with Moses and the Prophets. According to him, the prophets predicted all along that the Messiah would suffer and die.
The stranger fascinates them, so much so that they beg him to stay longer. Then, at mealtime, he makes a hauntingly familiar gesture, and the last link snaps into place. It is Jesus sitting at their table! No one else. Without a doubt, he is alive!
Come worship with us at FCC Scottsdale on the Third Sunday of Easter as we continue to celebrate the resurrection appearances of our Lord and Savior by sharing the good news of Luke 24:13-35 "The Road to Emmaus."