Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Fifth With First

This Sunday is “The Fifth With First!”

On those months that have an extra Sunday, we put our faith into action at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

For folks participating in our Worship Service in the Sanctuary, our dear friend LaVerne Thorpe will be our guest preacher that morning. LaVerne will be sharing a sermon about her recent trip to Africa…and I don’t want to give too much away, but our Global Ministries partners will be featured prominently! Immediately following the service our Outreach Team has partnered with Vista Del Camino to set up a “Back-to-School Kit” Assembly Line. I know, I know, it is the first weekend of summer but Vista Del Camino has to start working on those Back-to-School Kits months in advance to make sure everything is ready for the hundreds of school-age Scottsdale kids who come to them for assistance when the new school year does start. So we are at the cutting edge of Vista Del Camino’s programs and your help on Sunday morning is going to make a huge difference for them as well as the kids they serve.

For folks participating in our WORKship Service out in the Community we will meet at the ramada at Chaparral Park at 9AM for a brief Prayer Service (with communion) before heading out to the Ronald McDonald House at 501 East Roanoke Ave in Phoenix. We’ll be preparing lunch (and sack lunches) for the folks staying at the Ronald McDonald House as well as cleaning up the kitchen and tidying up the facility. The Ronald McDonald House has been an amazing partner with us; in fact you can watch news clilps here and here from the first time we worked with them two years ago.

Whether you are on campus or off campus this Sunday, thank you for being a part of “The Fifth With First” and for putting your faith into action!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Three Things from Administrative Council

The Administrative Council had their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday May 15 immediately following the worship service. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:

  1. Insurance Presentation
    Andrea Weingel, our Account Manager with Church Mutual Insurance Company, came to our meeting to walk the Administrative Council through our various insurance policies. It was a comprehensive presentation and I am glad to say that as a church we are well covered and taken care of in this important (but blessedly often unnoticed) area.
  2. Master's Talent Concert Series
    Administrative Council officially recognized and endorsed our Master's Talent Concert Series as a ministry of the church that is helping us reach out to our local community in new and innovative ways.
  3. Great Things are Happening in Education
    With each Admin Council Meeting we focus on one or two of our annual goals, and this time we featured our goal to "Support, Equip, and Grow the Education Ministry Team and Programs." We heard a wonderful report from the Education Ministry Team that detailed the many Sunday School Classes and mid-week small groups that we have in the church. They also outlined their hopes for the future and specifically requested help with volunteers for the S.A.I.L Program as well as helpers and teachers for the fall. We are so blessed to have Carol and Julie leading this revitalized effort and for everyone on the Education Ministry Team who is helping to make it happen!

Whiteboard: Wisdom

This Sunday we'll be talking about Wisdom...or as our Biblical tradition prefers to refer to it, Lady Wisdom.

That's right. In the Bible Wisdom is designated as feminine (the women of the church are nodding their heads knowingly). In fact, it is more than just feminine; Proverbs talks straight forwardly about wisdom as a personified woman ("Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice. On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out" Proverbs 8:1-3 with emphasis added by me).

Scholars have all sorts of theories and ideas about why this would be the case (read some here, here, and my personal favorite exposition on the text here) but in truth scripture never really answers the question "Why is Wisdom personified as a Lady?"

The more important question (and the one scripture does answer!) is "What should we learn from Lady Wisdom?" In answering this important question Rev. John Trigilio, Jr. and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti write:

In the Christian sense, wisdom isn't the same as truth or knowledge. Wisdom isn't just intellectual insight or book learning, either. Wisdom is the ability to make good judgments. A wise person doesn't have to be the most intelligent or the most accurate but does have to be someone who knows what to do with the knowledge he or she has, where to find more, and how to apply it.

Isn't that a great response! Oh, and my favorite part: It comes from their article in "Women in the Bible for Dummies." Yep, learning about wisdom from the "For Dummies" books!


Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 The Gifts of Wisdom

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
‘To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Whiteboard: Pentecost 2016

One Sunday a year everything looks different.

That is because one Sunday a year we celebrate how everything changed for the disciples of Christ and for the burgeoning movement that would become the church, when the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost!

Every other liturgical color shows up at different points throughout the year. Purple shows up for Advent and then again for Lent. We put up White during Christmas and Easter. And Green, well, we have our Green vestments up for a full 26 weeks every year.

But red?

Red is special.

Red comes out for one Sunday in the worship life of the church...because red is the color of vitality and new life and it is reminiscent of the tongues of flame that came down from heaven when the Holy Spirit filled that upper room where the disciples of Jesus had gathered.

This Sunday, I hope that you'll wear red too. That way, we become living vestments for the church -- a part of the celebration, signifying the gift of the Spirit, and our openness to the ways that the Holy Spirit continues to inspire us, to challenge us, to move among us and through us.

So wear red this Sunday and come help us celebrate Pentecost as we worship together!


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.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Whiteboard: The Ascension

This Sunday marks the end of our seven week Easter Season, and we will close our Resurrection Sermon Series with the traditional text assigned for the day: The Ascension of Christ!

Having made his resurrection appearances, blessings his disciples with the gift of new life, assuring the world that God's love is stronger than any force in the universe (even death) Jesus leaves the Earth...and leaves his earthly ministry to us.

My favorite part of the story is what the angels have to say to the Disciples. Ok, so scripture says, "men dressed in white" but it is pretty clear from their garb and from their message that these are angels relaying an important word from the Lord.

Jesus is lifted up in a cloud and taken away and the Disciples are (rightly!) staring up into the sky. They are amazed. They are perplexed. They are astounded. They were just talking to Jesus, in fact they had just asked him an important question: "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom?" And Jesus gave them his typical response to this line of questioning "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set." Then the Resurrected Christ just floats away.

So sure, they are staring at the sky trying to figure out what in the world just happened.

And the Angels say (my rough paraphrase): "What in the world are you guys doing staring up into the heavens. The heavens know that you need to get to work right here on Earth!"

It is an important reminder at a crucial time: Christ's body might be gone, but Christ's mission and ministry continues. And it continues through us! This is the final blessing of resurrection and new life -- that once we are touched by it, we are commissioned to continue the good work of the Gospel. Jesus' ministry continues in important, life-giving, transformative ways...through us!


Acts 1:6-11 -- The Ascension of Jesus

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’

He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ 

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’