Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Adventures In Learning Night 1

We had the Kick-Off for our S.A.I.L. Program last night (Wednesday, June 24) and it was such a great start for our new summer program!

S.A.I.L. stands for Summer Adventures In Learning. It is a Dream Fund Project that grew out of the dreams of our church members to “Bring back Vacation Bible School in a way that works for today.”

And that is just what the first night of the S.A.I.L. Program did…and will continue to do for the next FIVE Wednesday evenings.

The S.A.I.L. Program is a multi-generational, theme-oriented program for everyone in our church family. So yes, we had plenty of kids and young people filling up the Fellowship Hall last night, but my favorite part of the evening was that we also had several adult members of the congregation who came out just to take part in the program. And what a program! We enjoyed a meal together, shared scripture, sang songs, made crafts, and raced our own custom designed sail boats down waterway tracks in the church yard! (By the way, Henry beat me every single time we raced until he finally had mercy on me and let me use his sail boat!)

And it is not to late to participate. Like I said, we’re just getting started! Since the S.A.I.L. Program is a theme-based program it means that each Wednesday night is a self-contained piece. So just because you miss one night doesn’t mean you can’t still participate! Come and join us next Wednesday night from 6PM until 7:30PM. Our theme will be “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy!” and we’ll be collecting boxes of crayons as part of our summer outreach project (we’re collecting items for Vista del Camino’s Back to School efforts).

Whiteboard: In the Meantime

Jesus is criss-crossing the Sea of Galilee, going back and forth from the Jewish side to the Gentile side as he continues he ministry of preaching and teaching, healing and miracle-making all in the name of sharing the Good News of the Kingdom of God. 

We're back on the Jewish side this week, his home turf, and stuff starts happening fast and furious. Jesus is approached by a leader from the synagogue, a man name Jairus, who has a sick daughter at home. So sick that she is about to die. He asks for Jesus' help and Jesus agrees to go with him.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the crowd.

As soon as Jesus gets off the boat on his home turf side of the Sea of Galilee the crowds started up. And as Jesus was going with Jairus to his home to see this sick-to-the-point-of-death little girl the crowds keep following him and pressing in on him.

In the midst of this crowd is a woman. A woman who is brave, and sick, and desperate. A woman who old purity laws dictate really shouldn't be there. She has had an ongoing hemorrhage of blood for the past 12 years. She has "endured much" at the hands of physicians which sounds closer to torture than it does to medicine. This woman is in the midst of the crowd that is pressing in on Jesus and somehow she knows, she just knows, that if she can touch Jesus (even just the fringe on his garment) then she will be made whole. For the first time in a dozen years she will be healthy again. And so she reaches out, she presses in, she touches his garments...and it works! In an instant, in a flash, the 12-year hemorrhage is over. She is healed! She is well! It is a miracle.

Time plays a funny role in this week's Gospel text. On the one hand, the woman with the hemorrhage of blood (scripture never gives us her name) is healed instantly. But look closer. She's been struggling for a dozen years! We tell the story of the instant, but we gloss over the part of the long suffering.

At the same time, in the moments that it takes Jesus to figure out what is going on (he fells the power go forth from him and demands an accounting; an accounting that the woman bravely gives by the way) we find out that Jairus' daughter has died. Of course, Jesus has another miracle in store for her. But that means that the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage happens en route ("in the meantime" if you will) to another miracle. It is an incredible story and powerful reminder that sometimes ministry is "the thing that happens on the way to the other thing" and that sometimes interruptions aren't simply annoyances but are genuinely holy encounters.


Mark 5:21-43 A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Whiteboard: Jesus Stills the Storm

This Sunday I'll be talking about Mark 4:35-41.

It is a familiar story. One that we know as "Jesus stills the storm."

So there is Jesus, with his disciples, in a boat as they are crossing the sea. While they are journeying, suddenly, from out of nowhere this massive storm comes crashing down on top of them. We're talking wind, waves, torrential rain and the genuine threat of the boat going down into the deep. The disciples are freaking out as they are being battered back and forth and Jesus is...well, Jesus is sleeping.


I know, I know. That is what the disciples think too. They are convinced that this is the end of the road (to mix my metaphors) and in the face of this impending doom they can't believe that Jesus is sleeping peacefully through it all. 

So they wake him up. They give him some attitude ("Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!?"). Then something truly incredible happens. 

Jesus says three words. That's it. Three words. "Peace!" he says, and adds, "Be still!" 

And the winds stop. And the boat still floats. And their is a dead calm. 

Then Jesus speaks again. He only had three words for the wind and the storm. He has more words for the disciples.

He asks them two questions, each important. First he asks them "Why are you afraid?" 

Notice he doesn't ask, "What are you afraid of?" No, it is the deeper question. One that cannot be answered with a simple description of what is going on in the outside world ("We're scared of the winds, and the water, and the shaking, and the sinking boat"). The question can only be answered by looking deeper within ("I'm scared because I thought I was alone." "I thought this was the end." "Everything is out of my control." "I wanted so much more from this life.").

Then the second question, and this one is demands an even more introspective evaluation: "Have you still no faith?" 

It is the "still" in that second question that stings so much. He says "Be still" to the wind and everything stops. He says "still" to the Disciples (and lets be honest, to us) and it cuts us to the quick. "Have you still no faith?" implies that Jesus knows this isn't a one time aberration. That there have been times in the past (and lets be honest, there will be times in the future to) when our fear has overpowered our faith. 

This Sunday we'll be talking about some of those times. Those times when our fear has overpowered our faith. Those times when we have felt alone, isolated, at the end of the road (to keep mixing those metaphors). In particular this Sunday I'm going to be talking about Pew Research Forum's Religious Landscape Study -- the one that nearly blew up the internet a few weeks ago when it revealed that religious affiliation is cratering in this country, and is doing so much faster than anyone thought. Congregations are shrinking, churches are closing, and people are freaking out. 

Which is why we'll be looking at those two questions Jesus spoke after he stilled the storm: Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith? 

Because if Mark 4:35-41 teaches us anything it is that Jesus is in the boat with us in the middle of the storm.


If you want to learn more about the Pew Research Forum's Religious Landscape Study then click here. You can also read interesting responses to the study's finding here, here, and here

There is also a good chance that I'll be talking about my friend and colleague Derek Penwell's new book The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World. It is on my summer reading list and even though I am just a few chapters into it I'm really learning a lot already. It is a great read, and if you are an e-book person you can start on before my sermon on Sunday! And to bring everything back around, you can check out Derek's response to the Pew Research Forum's Religous Landscape Study by clicking here.


Mark 4:35-41 Jesus Stills a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Whiteboard: Music Appreciation

This Sunday is Music Appreciation Sunday, which means it is a special chance for us to celebrate the power of sacred music while at the same time saying "Thank You" to those folks who bring forth our musical offerings each and every Sunday.

We are truly blessed to have so many talented folks in our church who give so freely of their musical gifts and ability! This Sunday we'll be celebrating them all...and putting them to work too!

So you'll hear from the Praise Team and you'll hear from the Chancel Choir. We'll have plenty of opportunities for congregational singing too! And we'll even have some guest musicians joining us as well...including a possible new musician to fill out our Celebration Praise Band!

We are building the service around Ephesians 5:19-20:
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,
singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks to God the Father at all times
and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Come join us this Sunday as we sing, make melody, give thanks, and above all else as we praise the Lord God that we know through the gift of Jesus Christ! 

It is going to be an amazing worship service, made all the more amazing by your presence with us!

2015 Church Camp

Church Camp 2015 was incredible!

To learn more about it you can listen to Rev. Brian's sermon from this past Sunday by clicking here plus you can check out all of these great photos!



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

10 Reasons to go to the 2015 General Assembly

10. You will make a difference for Columbus, whether you crochet a sleeping mat with the youth, donate blood in the exhibit hall or volunteer to package potatoes with local missions.

9. You will see why Columbus is a terrific place to visit as well as a great place to live.

8. You will have the opportunity to learn about how our Church works and what is new and exciting.

7. You will find out you are not alone by networking with Disciples from across the United States and Canada and meeting faith partners from around the world. Never been to assembly?

6. Did you attend a Disciples-related college or seminary? You will have an opportunity to have a college or seminary reunion during lunch on Monday or Tuesday.

5. You will connect face-to-face with people in ministries that can help your work in your local congregation.

4. You will hear world-class speakers on topics from innovation to faith formation - IN PERSON - in the learning communities. You'll also have your choice of a variety of Sunday afternoon workshops - all included with your registration.

3. You will feel the Spirit flowing among thousands of Disciples gathered for worship and learn the theme song Soaring, all while singing your heart out in praise.

2. You will take the lead in Mission First!, to help set our future key mission directions for Disciples together.

1. You will be inspired to SOAR! Register now!

Keep up with the latest news and questions on the Facebook page  and sign up for the weekly e-letters.

Workship at the Ronald McDonald House

On The Fifth With First at the end of May we had a great group of Workship Volunteers who went down to the Ronald McDonald House at the Phoenix Children's Hospital. They worked hard as the hands and feet of Jesus to reach out support those families who are themselves helping to support loved ones and sick children during their extended stays at the hospital.

May 31, 2015 Worship Video

We had some technical difficulties on Sunday May 31 that prevented our Worship Video from being shown in the Sanctuary on "The Fifth With First."

But we got all of that worked out and now you find the Video on our Church YouTube Page, or embedded right here in the Blog!

The Video describes our Hope Partnership Journey here at FCC Scottsdale before detailing the amazing work of of the mission partners we worked with on May 31 -- The Ronald McDonald House and Operation Gratitude. Enjoy!