Thursday, April 23, 2015

StreetLight USA

Remember how we had 6 members from our church spend an afternoon working with the amazing folks at StreetLightUSA at the end of January?

Well, the Outreach Team sponsored a second trip to StreetLight USA last weekend and we had...SEVENTEEN church members there!

Streetlight USA helps young girls who have been victims of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. This is vitally important work, and I am grateful that our Outreach Team is deepening out relationship with the folks at Streetlight.

StreetLightUSA's mission is "To transition adolescent girls from trauma to triumph." and they implement that mission through a three-tier strategy of Awareness, Prevention, and Direct Care. By partnering with private corporations, public law makers, law enforcement, human services, and faith-based organizations they have created a collective impact that is interrupting the victimization of adolescent girls by the sex trade. They are helping girls find a new way forward so they can become independent, confident and successful young women.

As part of the day, our FCC Volunteers led the young women in making and decorating picture frames. The young women could keep their frames for themselves or donate them to another one of our mission partners. Some of the ladies were so moved by the project and the connection with our church that they are planning on joining us for our next instance of The Fifth With First where we'll be bringing to the Ronald McDonald House!

Whiteboard: The Good Shepherd

So what exactly is a shepherd?

And what does a shepherd do?

And most importantly, what does that tell us about God?

This Sunday in worship we'll be using two of the most familiar passages in all of scripture to help us answer those questions.

In Psalm 23 we hear "The Lord is my shepherd," and in John 10:11-18 Jesus teaches us about "The Good Shepherd."

In the ancient world that image would have been crystal clear. But in today's world, well, I don't know about you but I don't run into shepherds all that often in my daily life. Come to think of it, I've never met a shepherd.

Which brings us back to those guiding questions. What exactly is a shepherd? What does a shepherd do? What does that tell us about God?

Come join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale as we wrestle with those questions in faithful ways, seeking to deepen and broaden our faith!


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.

John 10:11-18

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’

I am a Disciple because...

(Note: This is copied from a commentary article by Michael Kinnamon published in the December 2006 issue of the Disciples World magazine.)

10 reasons why I am a Disciple
by: Michael Kinnamon
  1. I am a Disciple because, in an age of growing fundamentalism, Disciples seek to be a people of the book who, at the same time, feel no need to protect the Bible from the modern world.
  2. I am a Disciple because, in a society where beating the competition is regarded as the highest value, Disciples treasure the gifts that God has given to other parts of Christ's one body -- and to neighbors of other faiths.
  3. I am a Disciple because, resisting the extremes of hierarchical power and do-your-own-thing individualism, Disciples attempt to live by a covenant of mutual accountability, grounded in God's covenant of love with us.
  4. I am a Disciple because, instead of focusing only on the promise of personal blessedness in another world, Disciples celebrate the power and intention of God to transform this world -- and the calling we have to participate in God's mission of justice and peace here and now.
  5. I am a Disciple because we uphold the priesthood of all believers; because, without devaluing the importance of leaders, Disciples affirm that all members of the church have gifts for leadership and a calling to exercise them.
  6. I am a Disciple because we are a most unusual combination of radical discipleship (signified not only by our name but by our committment to believers' baptism) and ecumenical openness -- preaching a costly faith without claiming that we have the last word on it.
  7. I am a Disciple because we are also a most unusual combination of informal worship that yet is centered on breaking bread together at the Lord's Table.
  8. I am a Disciple because, while celebrating freedom from creedal conformity, Disciples recognize that such freedom comes with a responsibility to study the faith in community.
  9. I am a Disciple because, while emphasising that the gospel takes root in local congregations, Disciples know that the church and the church's mission stretch from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.
  10. I am a Disciple because, in an era when communities often define themselves by whom they exclude, Disciples claim an identity as those who welcome the excluded, even as Christ has welcomed us. I recognize that we are not always so good at this. But I think we are getting better.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Whiteboard: The Not So Secret Easter Greeting

Easter is more than a Sunday, it is an entire season in the life of the church!

It is a time when we celebrate the power of resurrection and the blessing of new life.

It is a time when we hear once more the resurrection accounts from Holy Scripture and celebrate that through the Risen Christ we know the fullness of God's mercy, love, and grace.

On Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter Season we are used to giving a certain of greeting, a special, responsive turn of phrase that we typically only use during this time of year. A leader calls out "Christ is Risen!" and the congregation in one voice responds, "Christ is Risen indeed!"

It is a powerful, joyful affirmation of faith and a beautiful declaration of Easter's power.

But this Sunday, I'll be preaching about a different Easter Greeting. A Not-So-Secret Easter Greeting, that nonetheless sneaks up on us. Those words of greeting come from the Risen Christ himself and are revealed to us in our scripture reading from Luke 24:36-48. See if you can find that Not-So-Secret Easter Greeting that is waiting for us in the text (hint: It is illustrated right there on the Whiteboard image at the top of this post too!) and don't be afraid to use it this Sunday (and every Sunday!) as your testimony to the power (and peace!) of the Risen Christ.


Luke 24:36-48 Jesus Appears to His Disciples

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnessesof these things.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Whiteboard: Doubting Thomas

My thanks to the Rev. Al Beasley for filling the pulpit for me while I am away attending my grandfather's memorial service.

Rev. Al will be preaching on the traditional text for the Second Sunday of Easter, John 20:19-31, a text that we commonly refer to as "The Story of Doubting Thomas."

I've never been one who cared for that name (after all if he is Doubting Thomas, then we pretty much need to call them "The Disbelieving Disciples" right?) but I love the power, the promise, and the call to action of this text.


John 20:19-31 Jesus Appears to the Disciples

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
The Purpose of This Book

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Whiteboard: Holy Weeek

Maundy Thursday April 2 @ 7PM in the Sanctuary
This is routinely my favorite worship service of the year. We will transform the sanctuary to recreate the Upper Room where Jesus met with the disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper. We will celebrate the gift of holy communion and then will conclude the evening with a service of Tenebrae (a candlelit reading of the passion narrative from the Gospels).

Easter Sunday April 4 at First Christian Church Scottsdale
Easter will be a spectacular celebration of resurrection and new life at FCC Scottsdale. Here is a rundown of what to expect:
  • Easter Breakfast will be provided by the DWM Ladies in the Fellowship Hall beginning at 8:30AM.
  • The Easter Egg Hunt for the children and young people will begin at 9AM.
  • Easter Sunday Worship will feature special music, Easter brass, and a powerful message as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the power of new life lived in God’s name. Get here early to make sure you get a seat!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Disciples Identity Video

While a divinity student, Melissa Smith produced this video illustrating our core beliefs as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).