Thursday, December 17, 2015

Whiteboard: Almost There

We'll celebrate Christmas Sunday at First Christian Church this Sunday!

There will be singing, praying, words of Holy Scripture, and...THE BELL CHOIR! It is going to be an amazing worship service and I hope that you are able to join us.

This Sunday is the Fourth (and final) Sunday of Advent, which means it is the Sunday of Love. Advent is the season of preparation -- the time of getting ready, recognizing the the things that we are lacking, and working to make them real as we eagerly anticipate the celebration of Christ's birth.

So this season we have talked about Hope and Peace and Joy and now this Sunday we get the biggest reminder yet of what the Reign of Christ and the Kingdom of God is all about...Love!

Christ came down to Earth to reveal the fullness of God's love for creation. So this Sunday we will celebrate the love of God as we prepare our hearts once more to welcome him through the celebration of his birth at Christmas!

Photos: 2015 Christmas Cantata

There are so many people to thank, so here we go…

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Last Sunday’s Christmas Cantata was absolutely incredible! In a remarkable year for our church the Christmas Cantata was a true highlight.

So we need to say “Thank you!” to Sandi Defeo, our Director of Music Ministries and the driving force behind the entire Cantata.

“Thank you!” to the Chancel Choir members who have been rehearsing the Cantata since August and have been rehearsing overtime for the last two months (literally, our Wednesday Rehearsals have been longer these last several weeks so that we could keep working on our parts).

“Thank you!” to our 11-piece orchestra (Tavit, Al, Max, David, Isidora, Patricia, Xiaolin, Maria Luciana, Dominique, Kate, and Parker), with an extra “Thank you!” going to Tavit for helping to recruit so many of those amazing musicians thanks to his connections at ASU.

“Thank you!” to Scott Eubanks for being our narrator, Carrie Phillips for staffing the soundboard during the worship service, and Melissa Lehrer for running sound production during the Canata itself.

“Thank you!” to everyone who attended worship on Sunday – it was so great to see the sanctuary completely filled for a Sunday morning worship service – and an extra “Thank you!” to everyone who shared the word about the Cantata by inviting friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members. 

"Thank you!" to Marilyn Lagesse and John Johnson who took so many wonderful pictures of the day. You'll find a small sample of them below. You can see the entire album on the Church's Facebook page or by clicking here

One last special “Thank you!” to Jacque Musser who stood up at the end of the service and testified, “I’ve been a member of this church for 50 years and that was the most inspirational service I’ve ever seen!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Whiteboard: Cantata

This Sunday marks the Third Sunday of Advent which makes it the Sunday of Joy!

And what a great joy it will be to share our 2015 Christmas Cantata with the congregation during our worship service!

We will be singing the story of Christ's birth through "Let the Whole World Sing" a beautiful Cantata written by Joel Raney. The Cantata will feature our Chancel Choir who will be joined by an 11-member orchestra all under the direction of Director of Music Ministries Sandi DeFeo.
"We Celebrate the Christmas Season united as one kingdom of believers. Enjoy the music from a Celtic lilt, to African rhythms, through the Caribbean style as well as the traditional to create an interesting and fresh retelling of the Christmas story."
See you Sunday! Trust me when I say: You don't want to miss this one!

Three Things: Annual Congregational Meeting

The Members of First Christian Church Scottsdale met on Sunday December 6, 2015 immediately after the Worship Service for our Annual Congregational Meeting. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting.

  1. Our Slate of Officers, Ministry Chairs, and Elders was unanimously approved!
    I am grateful to our Nominiating Committee, their prayerful process, and their tireless work in putting together such an excellent slate of leaders for our church for the coming year. Thank you to everyone who answered the call to service in our congregation and on behalf of the Lord. I am equally overjoyed to share the good news that we filled every single position in the leadership structure of our church!
  2. Our balanced Budget for 2016 was unanimously approved!
    What a blessing that our Stewardship Campaign has fully funded a growing budget for our congregation! As I shared on Sunday, our budget is growing because our ministries are growing. The 2016 Budget now includes line items for the Summer Adventures In Learning Program, pay increases for our church staff and musicians, and increased dollars to help us continue to communicate our church's story with our members. Last year we dreamed big dreams at FCC Scottsdale and in the year to come we'll be living into that dream together!
  3. The Church that Prays Together, Stays Together!
    We closed the meeting with a word of prayer and I hope that you will continue to keep our church, her leaders, and our budget in your prayers. Please pray that all that we do and all that we are will truly be done to the glory of God and in service to Jesus Christ. The blessings that we have are gifts from God and our deepest hopes and ambitions as a church family are to be in line with God's hopes and dreams for us. So keep praying for our congregation in the coming year that we might be blessed in order to be a blessing. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Whiteboard: The Sunday of Peace

We need this Sunday now more than ever.

The Second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Peace, and in a world that feels anything but peaceful right now, we need this Sunday more than ever.

With political rhetoric ratcheted up to surreal levels, recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and this very morning news of a mass shooting in a community center in San Bernadino, California it is fair to say that peace is the last thing on our minds.

Our thoughts are filled with anxiety and fear; too many conversations are laced with animosity and indifference.

In the midst of this dark and broken world, we dare to strike a match for justice and light an Advent Candle for peace.

Advent is that season of preparation. It is the beginning of a new year for us in the worship life of the church. A year that does not begin with the revelry and celebration of Christmas or with the cosmos reshaping events of Easter. No, our year begins with preparation because faith is about the journey as much as it is about any end destination. So we carve out this time to get ready, to prayerfully consider our preparation. What do we need to do to steady our hearts and steel our wills as we eagerly anticipate the birth of Christ once more in our hearts and in our world?

This Sunday we will gather. We will pray. We will sing. We will the old, old stories and join our hearts with the dreams that God has for us today. We will prepare our hearts and talk about peace. Because it is into a world just such as this that Christ Jesus came to reveal the fullness of God's love, the promise of God's forgiveness, and the opportunity of a life truly worth living.

Come and light a Candle of Peace with us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale.


Luke 3:1-18 The Proclamation of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Photos: The Fifth With First

What a great Sunday!

November 29, 2015 was the fifth Sunday in November which means...The Fifth With First!

Our Workship Crew gathered at Chaparral Park at 9AM for a brief prayer service (we were joined by three visitors, by the one, including one who came all the way from Canada!) and then we headed out for a morning of work partnering with our friends in mission at Operation Fix-It. We were paired up with a local homeowner who is dealing with significant illnesses while her adult son (and care taker) is losing his sight. They needed us to help xeriscape their front yard, trim a large tree, and trim their hedges. It was hard, fulfilling work and the family could not have been more excited and appreciative. In fact, they have already called over to the Operation Fix-It office to rave about our Workship Team!

Meanwhile, back in the Sanctuary, we had a Jesse Tree Service that was led by our Elders followed by a Christmas Bag Assembly Line in the Fellowship Hall organized by our Outreach Team. The bags (with supplies and donations collected during the S.A.I.L. Program this summer) will be given out to children who receive services from the Piute Community Center here is Scottsdale.

Here is a small sampling of pictures from the day. To see more head over to the church's Facebook Page at

The Workship Crew gathers for a brief Prayer Service.

Xeriscaping the yard means one thing:
Moving THREE TONS of gravel to replace the grass yard!

Yep, more gravel!

The 32 members of our Workship Crew
celebrating a job well done!

The Before Picture: A dirt yard with only patches of grass,
an overgrown tree, and impassable shrubs. The family had been
unable to enjoy their front yard for some time. 

The After Picture: A xeriscaped front yard, a tree trimmed high
enough that the legally blind son can walk safely under and around it,
and hedges that allow for easy access to the walkway.
Why, even the sky was bluer after we were done working!
 Meanwhile, back on the church campus...

The Assembly Line is all ready for preparing
The Christmas Bags for the Piute Center.

Lovingly prepared by the members of FCC Scottsdale.

Our Outreach Co-Chairs getting everything ready.

Members packing the bags!

Jean with (some of) the Christmas Bags that were prepared.

Photos: The Hanging of the Greens

A HUGE "Thank You!" to everyone who helped with the Hanging of the Greens at the church on Saturday. The buildings and grounds look beautiful having been fully transformed for our Advent and Christmas Seasons here at FCC Scottsdale.

Here are several photos of the hard work that went into making all things beautiful!