Thursday, June 26, 2014

Whiteboard: The Fifth With First

This Sunday is "The Fifth with First" and you'll have plenty of options!

{Note: for folks who do not know what "The Fifth with First" means you can learn all about it by clicking here and scrolling through our archives}


On Sunday June 29 The Workship Team will meet at Chaparral Park at 8AM for a brief prayer service before heading out to Vista del Camino to help get things ready for their Back To School Program.

Please note the new start time! With the heat of summer now fully upon us we’ll be meeting an hour earlier for our outdoor prayer service. 

AND, please note the new community partner we’ll be working with. FCC Scottsdale has been a longtime supporter of Vista del Camino and I am overjoyed that we’ll be working with them as part of “The Fifth with First.” It is even more exciting because, well, Vista del Camino has an air-conditioned workspace! 

But have no fears: When things cool off in the fall we’ll get back to working with Operation Fix-It again (the community partner we worked with in December and March).


On June 29 we’ll also have a Worship Service here in the Sanctuary at 10:15AM. The Worship Service at the church will be a little bit different as well. The Music Ministries of the Church (under Sandi’s direction) will be leading everyone in a Patriotic Singing Sunday. 

There will be patriotic hymns, special patriotic music, and even a patriot anthem from the Chancel Choir on the Sunday before Independence Day on July 4th.


For folks who are looking for a third option on June 29, that Sunday will also be the Rev. David Shirey’s last Sunday with Coolwater Christian Church. After a dozen years here in Arizona establishing a successful new church start in North Scottsdale, David has been called to serve as the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. 

For anyone wanting to be in worship with David for his last Sunday at Coolwater that service will begin at 9:30AM and be held in their sanctuary at 28181 N. 56th Street. You’ll want to get there early to get a seat – they are expecting a packed house.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Whiteboard: No Fear

Lets be honest, we all get scared.

It happens to the best of us.

Sometimes we get jumpy or afraid or terrified. Sometimes we just can't keep our thoughts from drifting into those dark places. Sometimes an uncertain future, a downward trend, and a slippery slope bring out the very worst in us and send our fear responses into a frenzy.

We all get scared.

Which is why it is so interesting that the Bible repeatedly tells us "Be not afraid." It says it over, and over, and over, and over again.

You'll find that phrase (or some permutation of it) in every section and subsection of the Bible -- In the Old Testament and in the New Testament; in the Creation Stories, in the Law, in the Prophets, in the Gospels, in the Epistles, and every single time an Angel of the Lord shows up with something important to say.

Everywhere you look in the Bible you'll find that consistent chorus, "Be not afraid."

So I guess that is pretty important.

When our fearful nature is met with a genuine expression of faith the response is consistent, clear, and true: Be not afraid. Fear not. Have no fear.

This Sunday we'll be talking about fear and faith. We'll be talking about what I'm afraid of (hint: it isn't just my very well known phobia of snakes) and what we can do about it. And we'll be talking about Jesus' instructions to us found in Matthew 10:26, "So have no fear."

I'll see you on Sunday morning!


Matthew 10:24-33 Have No Fear

24 ‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26 ‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32 ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Whiteboard: In the Beginning

This Sunday we begin the longest stretch in the Christian Liturgical Calendar.

From the Third Sunday in June clear until the Fourth Sunday in November we'll be in "Ordinary Time" (also known as "The Sundays After Pentecost"). That means that for the next five months we are in that long stretch in the worship life of the church between any major, high holy days.

So the colors in the church have changed to green, and they are going to be that way for a while. We "go green" in the church during The Sundays After Pentecost because this is the time that we are to grow in the faith. And just like the green leafy trees that are reaching up to the heavens and growing in the light of the summer sun, we too are called to grow in this season in the life of the church.

In that regard, we'll be exploring some of the major stories in our Biblical tradition. We'll celebrate the mission, ministry, and teachings of Jesus. We'll hear once more the epistles of Paul to the early church. We'll listen to the words of Psalms and hear the wisdom and teachings of the Old Testament.

As we enter into this long stretch in the worship life of the church, what better place could there be to begin then right at the beginning! 

This Sunday we build our worship service around the first creation story in Genesis. It has the strange designation of Genesis 1:1-2:4a. You would have thought that the editors and arrangers of the Bible (the good folks who put in all of the chapter and verse numbers, many many years after the stories themselves had been written) would have just made the first creation story the entire first chapter. But no, they had to arrange it in such away that the seventh day bleeds over into the second chapter, and the last line bleeds into the first half of a new verse.

Anyway, it is the beginning. And beginnings are important. Beginnings set us on a journey, orient us in a direction, and predict where we are heading. All of those things happen in the Genesis 1 (I'm going shorthand here) and some of the deepest truths that we need to know as a people of faith are revealed right there at the very beginning of our scriptural tradition. We learn right away that God is present, powerful, creative, and blessing bestowing and that we are created in God's own image -- what an amazing way to start the story of faith!

Come join us this Sunday as we begin at the beginning and celebrate the Lord God our Creator!

Summer Reading List

Summer always started the same way when I was a kid. 

On the first day of summer my mom would pile all of us kids into the station wagon and drive us to the Round Rock Public Library and sign us up for the Summer Reading Program. 

The program worked like this: For every milestone you passed (for every 10 short, children’s books when you were a kid or for every 100 pages of a chapter book once you got older) you got a Prize Pack. Those Prize Packs were filled with all sorts of little trinkets as well as coupons for free stuff from local shops. 

The best prize in the gift bag (the Holy Grail of the Prize Packs) was the coupon for “One Free Donut” from Round Rock Donuts! Lots of people can trace their love of reading back to an certain influential teacher or to a particular beloved book, but I’m pretty sure my love of reading was nurtured by those donut coupons!
Even though the donut reward system is long since past for me, I still see summer time as reading time. Each summer I put together my own Summer Reading List, and I build in some accountability by sharing the full list with the church. It is also an invitation too. If  you are interested in any of the titles on my Summer Reading List and want to order a copy for yourself I’ve also included linksfor each book. 

So without further ado, here is what I’ll be reading this summer:
  • A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen
    A classic text. Nouwen connects the practical need for funds to do the work of religious organizations with the spiritual and theological principles that inform the work.
  • Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairytale by Frederick Buechner
    A short, quick read by one of my favorite authors. It offers a creative look at the underlying meaning of the Gospels that stresses the many dimensions of God's relationship to humanity.
  • Insurrection: To Believe is Human to Doubt, Divine by Peter Rollins
    A thought provoking book from one of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement that “prescribes a radical and wholesale critique of contemporary Christianity” in order to faithfully follow Jesus.
  • Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher
    I’m re-reading this one again this summer. Written with the needs of pastors and stewardship teams in mind the book provides immediate, practical guidance to all who seek to help God’s people be better stewards of their resources.
  • My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman
    Completed in the wake of a bone marrow transplant, the book is a moving meditation on what a viable contemporary faith—responsive not only to modern thought and science but also to religious tradition—might look like.
I’m also planning on finishing The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer (which you might remember from last Summer’s Reading List!) and just for fun I highly recommend Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life. Oh, and as a family we are going to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix out loud to each other during our vacation back in the Midwest in July!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pentecost 2014

Do me a favor. Make sure that you read the Acts 2:1-21 scripture reading that I've included at the bottom of this post. 

You see, this Sunday is Pentecost and Acts 2:1-21 is the familiar, traditional reading assigned for this Sunday. And we'll be building the worship service around the Acts 2:1-21 scripture reading, but I guarantee we'll be sharing the scripture passage like you have never heard it before. So you might want to re-read Acts 2:1-21 before you come to worship so that you can keep up with what is going on!

Acts 2:1-21 The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Workship on June 29!

June 29 will be our next celebration of The Fifth with First!

{Note: Learn more about The Fifth With First by clicking here}

With the summer heat fully upon us we're switching gears just a bit with our Workship Service this time around. Our previous two Workship Services we've worked with our terrific partner Operation Fix-It to help our neighbors get some necessary yard work and clean up work done around their houses. Once the weather cools off again we're looking forward to working with Operation Fix-It again!

In the heat of June we need to be indoors, so we've made plans with another one of our excellent local partners -- Vista Del Camino!

Vista Del Camino is the social services coordinator here in Scottsdale. They provide a variety of services to Scottsdale residents to prevent homelessness, meet the basic needs of individuals and families in crisis, relieve economic and emotional stress and assist individuals to maintain self-sufficiency.

On Sunday June 29 we'll be a Vista Del Camino helping them get things ready for their Back to School Program. The Back to School Program assists up to 500 Scottsdale elementary and high school students each year. Eligible children are provided with two sets of new clothing, socks, underwear, a pair of shoes, backpack and school supplies.We'll be sorting clothes, hanging clothes, and getting everything together for a successful kick-off to this important program.

Currently we are planning on meeting at Chaparall Park at 8AM for a brief prayer service with communion, and then we'll head over to Vista Del Camino for Workship!