Thursday, December 22, 2016

Whiteboard: Christmas Weekend

Everything is coming together.

The poinsettias have been delivered, the choir has rehearsed, the scripts have been sent out to all of our readers, and the worship slides have been put in place. We have completed our Advent Sermon series, and received all of the blessings of the season that we need in preparation for the miracle of Christmas -- the gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Everything is coming together for our Christmas Celebrations here at FCC Scottsdale. Let me run through all of the festivities for you!

December 22nd Choir Christmas Concert at Westminster at 7PM
For the third year in a row the choir will go to the Westminster Village Retirement Community to perform a special Christmas concert.

December 24th Christmas Eve Service 7PM in the Sanctuary
We’ll have a full service of Lessons and Carols complete with a
traditional, candlelit “Silent Night” to close out the service.

December 25th Christmas Sunday Service 10:15AM in the Sanctuary
On Christmas morning we’ll gather for worship and celebrate the birth of Christ with “The No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant!” And then after service please join us in Fellowship Hall for a special celebration that we are calling “A Birthday Party for Jesus and Harriet Howard!” We’ll continue celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy some birthday cake in honor of Harriet’s birthday too!

I hope you can join us for all of these special occasions during this Christmas season. Wishing you many blessings for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Luke 2:1-20 The Birth of Jesus

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Whiteboard: One More Thing

This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and like a Steve Jobs' product reveals of old, Advent dares to declare to us, "There is one more thing..."

And just like those old Apple product launches, Advent is saving the biggest, best, most important thing for last. Because the Fourth Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Love.


That foundational gift from God that once we accept it changes us forever.


That blessing that forces us to reinterpret everything that we thought we knew.


That one more thing that we need to really, truly be ready for the gift of the Christ child at Christmas.

So this Sunday, we'll celebrate the gift of love as we prepare our hearts and prepare our world once again for Christmas.


Matthew 1:18-25 The Angel and Joseph

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’,which means, ‘God is with us.’

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Christmas Skit Script

During worship on Sunday December 11, 2016 the kids of FCC Scottsdale presented a Christmas Skit as part of our Christmas Cantata Musical Celebration.

The skit was written, at the invitation of our Music Director Sandi DeFeo, by my 10-year-old son (and aspiring filmmaker!) Henry Frederick-Gray.

You can listen to the full audio of the Christmas Skit on the church's website, and by popular demand you can find the full script posted below!

Thank you to everyone who helped make our Christmas Cantata Musical Celebration such a wonderful success!

What Can I Give Him?
A Christmas Skit
First Christian Church Scottsdale
by Henry Frederick-Gray

(The play opens with Henry, standing at one of the center Praise Team microphones, sorta talking to himself.)

Henry: Alright, getting ready for the Children’s portion of the Christmas Play. Gonna tell everybody about the gifts we bring…

(Jordan, Darren, and Jennica walk up to the Praise Team Microphone nearest the Lectern. They are distracted by the phone that Jordan is holding in front of himself.)

Henry: Oh, are you guys here to play the part of the Wisemen in the Christmas Play?

Jordan: What? No, we were just playing Pokemon Go.

Darren: We think there might be a Jigglypuff in here!

Henry: Oh…

Jennica: Did you say something about a Christmas Play?

Henry: Yes. We’re doing a Christmas Play here at the church and I still need the Wisemen to show up. They are the ones who will give gifts to Baby Jesus and help us understand what kinds of gifts we can bring him.

Jordan: Cool. Do you think baby Jesus plays Pokemon Go?

Henry: I doubt it.

(Hannah, Scarlett and Morgan walk up to the Praise Team Microphone nearest the pews. They are each carrying an object.)

Henry: Are you all the Wisemen?

Scarlett: You mean Wise Women.

Henry: Okay, sure. Did you bring gifts for the Baby Jesus.

Hannah: We sure did. Check it out. (Hannah holds up the iPad box) I brought him an iPad!

Kids: Whoa!

Darren: Wait a second, is that really appropriate for a little baby?

Hannah: What do you mean?

Darren: Well, it is a gift for Baby Jesus, right? But didn’t the APA just change the guidelines on screen time for kids? I don’t think babies are supposed to have iPads. Even if they are the Baby Jesus.

Hannah: Oh, you are probably right…

Scarlett: Well look what I brought him! (Holds up the Lego Death Star Box) It is the biggest Lego set that money can buy!

Kids: Whoa!

Scarlett: Yeah, and it comes with Luke Skywalker…

Henry (Trying to interrupt Scarlett): Scarlett, I don’t think….

Scarlett (Doesn’t notice Henry’s interruption, keeps talking): …and Han Solo…

Henry (Getting Louder): Scarlet, I don’t think that…

Scarlett (Keeps talking): …and Princess Leia…

Henry (Even Louder): SCARLETT, I don’t think that…

Scarlett (Keeps talking): …OH, and Darth Vader

Kids (Loudly, together): SCARLETT!

Scarlett (Finally looks up from the Lego Box): Yes?

Henry: I don’t think that is the most appropriate gift for the Baby Jesus. I mean, isn’t it really just a big box full of choking hazards?

Scarlett: Oh, you’re probably right…

Morgan: Hey, check out what I brought him! (Holds up a T-shirt and a marker).

Jennica: What is that?

Morgan: It is a white t-shirt and a black marker.

Jennica: Why did you bring a white t-shirt and a black marker for the Baby Jesus?

Morgan: I was hoping he would autograph it for me!

Jennica: Um, I don’t think baby’s know how to sign autographs.

Darren: And besides, wouldn’t that really be more of a gift for you instead of a gift for the Baby Jesus.

Morgan: Oh, you’re probably right…

Jordan: So what are we supposed to do now?

Henry: I don’t know. I really wish those three Wisemen would show up. We could really use some help with this…

(From off stage we hear: Knock, Knock, Knock)

Sandi: Henry, did you use your Dad’s church credit card to order pizza again?

(The kids look around, excited)

Henry: No. Not this time.

(The kids hang their heads down, sad)

Sandi: Okay, well go see who is at the door.

(Brian, Eric, and Brayden enter from the sacristy door by the Baptismal Pool. They are wearing crowns, carrying their gifts, and walk to the Pulpit Mic).

Henry: Thank goodness you guys are finally here! Did you bring the gifts for Baby Jesus? We are having a really hard time figuring out what we are supposed to give him.

Brian: I brought him Gold.

Eric: I brought him Frankincense.

Brayden: I brought him Myrrh.

Jordan: Um, none of that sounds particularly appropriate for a little baby.

Brian: That is true. But we weren’t bringing him gifts fit for a baby. We were bringing him gifts fit for a king! Gifts that would help him in his life and ministry. Gifts that would help us to know who he is and what his ministry was all about.

Hannah: Well, we’ve really been struggling to know what kind of gifts we are supposed to bring him.

Eric: Well, maybe you can think about it differently. Instead of thinking “What kind of present do I want to give the newborn Christ child?” maybe you should ask yourself, “What does Jesus really want more than anything else in the world?”

(The kids nod their heads in growing recognition, clearly thinking about this question)

Darren: I got it!

(The kids huddle up and pretend to whisper ideas excitedly back and forth. Every now and then one of them pops up nodding and smiling at the congregation. After a few seconds they return to their microphones.)

Brayden: So, what did you decide?

Jennica: Well, we decided that the best gift we could bring for Jesus probably isn’t the XP from our Pokemon Go game.

Hannah: And it isn’t an iPad.

Scarlett: And it isn’t this totally awesome Lego Star Wars set.

Morgan: And it isn’t a T-shirt for him to autograph.

Darren: What Jesus wants more than anything else in the world, is for us to love him…

Henry: …and to share that love with the world.

Jordan: So what gift should we give him?

Kids and Wisemen (all together): We’ll give him our heart!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Whiteboard: Advent 3

During our Worship Service on Sunday we will be graced with a special service featuring our Chancel Choir, Praise Team, and Kids Choir!

That means that everything will be a little bit different than a typical Sunday morning Worship Service (we’ve rearranged the Order of Service to make it all happen) and it will be a little bit different than Cantata Sundays in year’s past. 

For starters, our kids are going to be featured throughout the Musical Celebration. In fact, the youth of FCC Scottsdale will be performing a Christmas Skit written by Henry Frederick-Gray (yes, my son!). 

What’s more, there will be parts during the Musical Celebration that we’ll invite the entire congregation to join us in singing our praises to God and the Christ child. 

It is going to be wonderful and I hope you can join us!