Thursday, May 28, 2015

Whiteboard: The Fifth With First

Our Workship Crew will be meeting at the Ramada at Chaparral Park at 9AM for a brief prayer service (complete with communion) led by Rev. Judy and Rev. Al. From there our red t-shirt clad work team will head to the Ronald McDonald House at Phoenix Children’s Hospital to put their faith into action by serving families who have a sick child receiving long term care at the hospital. The Ronald McDonald House has been an amazing partner for us at First Christian Church Scottsdale (remember last year when they made the contacts with the local television stations that landed us all that great coverage on the news!) and it will be good to work with them again.

For folks who haven’t participated in the Workship Service before, this would be a great Sunday to give it a try. You see, Church Camp is also kicking off this weekend so several of our Workship Regulars (including myself) will be in Prescott at Camp Pinerock getting everything ready for the youth and young adults who will be arriving later that day for camp. So we could use your help with the Workship Project!

Or, you could attend the Worship Service in the Sanctuary (beginning at 10:15) and then take part in the Outreach Project supporting another new ministry partner of ours – Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit organization giving folks the chance to reach out with a word of support to our troops. They annually send 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene items and hand-made items plus personal letters of appreciation to New Recruits, Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Their mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military.

We’ll be expressing our appreciation to the members of the Military this Sunday by writing personal letters of appreciation. We’ve already collected dozens of letters from church members that will be sent off to Operation Gratitude to be included in their Care Packages and after the Worship Service on Sunday we’ll be writing even more letters during Coffee Hour in Fellowship Hall.

So whether you are attending the Workship Service or the Worship Service, come join us for The Fifth With First this Sunday as we live out our faith!

Want to learn more about our Outreach Partners this week?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pentecost 2015

This Sunday is Pentecost!

Pentecost is the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is our time to rejoice in the continuing power and presence of God. It is when we all get to wear red!

The second chapter of Acts tells us that the Disciples were all gathered in one place when all of a sudden everything goes wild. The scene is so crazy that words can hardly describe it, so instead we get these images that don't quite jibe with each other but help us make sense of the situation nonetheless. The sound of a violent rush of wind mixed with tongues of flame? That rest on each one of them? And give them the ability to speak in other languages? Oh, and sometimes it is called a dove, just not in this passage?!?

This was the promised gift that Jesus Christ had long described to his Disciples. That even though his earthly ministry with them would end we would not be left alone -- we would receive the Holy Spirit, the continuing power and presence of God that will lead us and guide us, bless us and send us forth to the world.

So come join us this Sunday as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. And don't forget, wear red!


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.”

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council had their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday following the worship service. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting!

  1. A New Name: The Dream TeamThe Dream Fund Task Force continues to meet regularly in order to put our budget surplus to good use for the work of the Lord. They have prioritized several key dreams and are currently collecting bids from different vendors in order to make them happen. They hope to have several bids ready for Administrative Council's approval at the next Administrative Council Meeting. That said, it has been exciting to watch as the Dream Fund Task Force is evolving into something new. The meetings are dynamic and energetic, and this Task Force has become more than a group committed to faithfully putting our budget surplus to work. In fact, it has become an incubator of new and innovative ideas at the church. They aren't simply taking the dream suggestions from the congregation, they are tapping into the Spirit alive and at work at FCC Scottsdale and seeking to dream big dreams for our church. As such, on the recommendation from Administrative Council we are going to stop calling them The Dream Fund Task Force and simply rechristen them as The Dream Team! This is the place (hopefully one among many, actually) where church leaders are coming to dream together about what is possible for our church and what God is calling us to do. How wonderfully exciting!
  2. A New VBS: The SAIL Program
    One of the Dream Fund dreams that is coming to fruition is a new model of Vacation Bible School. Several dreams from the Dream Fund Box mentioned, "Let's bring back VBS!" and we are going to do that, but in a way that better fits our church and our community. A traditional model of VBS (a full day of Vacation Bible Study done five days in a row in the heat of the summer) isn't the most effective model for our church. We know because we asked our parents and our volunteers. Instead, we are going to an intergenerational weekly evening model. We are calling it S.A.I.L (Summer Adventures in Learning) and Julie Erickson has already put together an amazing program! There will be a light supper, there will be themes, there will be events and opportunities to get to know one another as we deepen our faith this summer. Look for more information (including opportunities to volunteer and help out!) in the coming weeks. The S.A.I.L Program will kick off on June 24 and continue on each Wednesday evening through the end of July.
  3. During the Prayer Vigil: Discerning our Gifts
    The Prayer Vigil runs from Wednesday May 20 until Pentecost Sunday May 27, and the Administrative Council has a special request: Please be in prayer to discern what gifts you have to offer in service to our Lord. What is God calling you to do? What ways can you help our church? What ways can your gifts be put to use to benefit the wider community? At our next Administrative Council Meeting (July 26) we'll be talking about leadership and begin the work of discerning Ministry Team Chairs for 2016, and Administrative Council would particularly appreciate it if our church members would use the Prayer Vigil as an opportunity to begin considering those questions. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Whiteboard: Joy

This Sunday we are smack dab in the middle of Jesus' longest recorded prayer in scripture.

The entire chapter of John 17 is a prayer. The way the Gospel of John shares the story, Jesus is just about to be arrested and he has gathered the Disciples one last time during his earthly ministry to sum up his feelings and his plans for them.

As the study notes in the NIV Student Bible report it, "This famous prayer represents a kind of commissioning or graduation. In it, Jesus hands over his mission to the disciples and, by extension, to all believers who will come after him."

The prayer has three sections. In the first section Jesus prays for himself. In the second section Jesus prays for his Disciples. In the third section Jesus prays for all believers.

This Sunday we are smack bad in the middle of Jesus' prayer, which means the sermon scripture comes from that second section (John 17:11-19) and I'm particularly struck this week by one turn of phrase in this section. Jesus prays, "I say things while AI am still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." Isn't that something? Isn't that incredible!

Christ Jesus has come to set us free, to commission us for continuing his work in the world, and above all else to feel the same joy that he feels.

Last Sunday we talked about love -- about how Christ's commandment to us was to love one another -- and how we can live out that love. This Sunday we get to focus on the effects and results of living our lives rooted in Christ, abiding in God's love, and wouldn't you know it (actually, I don't think you would, that is why need to talk about on Sunday!) the results of giving our lives over to God and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is in fact a life of joy!

Come join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale as we make a joyful noise to joyfully celebrate the joy-filled new lives that we inherit and inhabit as followers of Christ Jesus our Lord!


John 17:11-19

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

In the Disciples News Service

Well, look who was featured in the Disciples News Service's weekly email newsletter this week!

That's right, FCC Scottsdale and "The Fifth With First!"

You'll find the full text of the article printed below.

{By the way, if you would like to sign up to received the Disciples News Service in your email inbox every single Wendesday and learn about all of the amazing things that Disciples are doing then click here to subscribe to their service)

Journey congregation accepts “out of the box” challenge

If your congregation were given the challenge to do one thing “out of the box” in just 21 days, what would it do?
First Christian Church, Scottsdale, Ariz., accepted that challenge and started “The 5th with First”—a combined worship/outreach project service or, as they call it, “workship.”
WorkshipOn the fifth Sunday of the month, the congregation steps out of its comfort zone and meets in the park down the road for a brief prayer service that includes scripture and communion, and then heads out into the community to do “faithful, faith-filled holy work.”
Partnering with local groups, the workship team has assisted neighborhood homeowners in cleaning up/fixing up their property; assembled back-to-school packs; and done housekeeping chores and meal preparation at the local Ronald McDonald House.
For those who prefer to stay at the church, an abbreviated worship
service is held there, followed by a service project in the fellowship
hall, which recently involved preparing “healthy packs” for local school
children on the free or reduced lunch program who do not have enough to eat on weekends.
“Workship is when we live out our faith by going out into the community to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors,” says First’s Pastor Brian Frederick-Gray.
First Christian Church, Scottsdale heard the call to take the 21-day challenge as part of their participation in Hope Partnership’s The Journey—a two-year cycle of services that helps church leaders discover the courage to lead their congregation through missional transformation by guiding them to seek answers to the right questions, unleash creativity and develop teamwork in their congregation. The process includes intensive training experiences, coaching and CARE (peer) group participation.
Visit for more information about Hope Partnership’s Journey service.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whiteboard: Love One Another

This Sunday is Mother's Day, and what better time could we get that commandment from Christ Jesus our Lord that we are to love one another just as he has loved us!
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. 
-- John 15:9-17