Thursday, July 20, 2017

Whiteboard: May it be so



For seven full years now I've ended (almost) every sermon with those same words -- "May it be so, for you, for me, and for all of creation."

So it seems fitting that for my final Whiteboard drawing I'd use those same thirteen words.

This Sunday will be my final time in the pulpit as the Senior Minister at First Christian Church Scottsdale. In worship we'll be singing some of our favorite hymns, hearing some familiar words of scripture, laughing, crying, and celebrating the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord our God.

We'll also be participating in a Liturgy of Blessing and Release. It is a formal act that helps us close out our mutual ministry together with words of prayer, celebration, forgiveness, and thanksgiving. I hope you'll be able to join us, and I hope you'll stick around for the Luncheon that follows (Melissa Wise is catering the whole thing!).

It has been my honor to serve as your Senior Pastor for these last seven years. As Susan, Henry, and I move to Boston following her election as the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association we'll be going forth with hearts filled with love, thankfulness, and gratitude. Thank you, church!

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Genesis 18:1-10a A Promise to Abraham and Sarah

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, ‘My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.’

So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’ 

And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’ Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ 

And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ 

Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Whiteboard: General Assembly


The Disciples General Assembly will be meeting in Indianapolis, IN from July 8-12.

So our Sunday morning worship service on July 9 will have a distinctly General Assembly feel to it!

I'll be preaching on the GA theme: One!

We'll be talking about what it means to be a part of a larger denomination, the important things that are happening at General Assembly (we are electing a new General Minister and President!), and how we can stay connected with the wider church.

Speaking of staying connected -- have you been to the General Assembly website? You can find the Full Docket online, along with all of the Business Items up for consideration. You can support the Special Mission Offerings and learn more about our Nominee for General Minister and President. Oh, and you can even live stream the Worship Services every single night!

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John 17:1-25  Jesus Prays for His Disciples

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 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.

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Whiteboard: Music Appreciation Sunday


This Sunday we will be celebrating the blessing and gift of music!

It is Music Appreciation Sunday, and we are blessed to have so much to celebrate here at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

Our Director of Music Ministries Sandi DeFeo leads us in wonderful worship each and every Sunday. Her passion for sharing the faith and her gifts for helping us lift up our praises to the Lord is a true gift.

Our Musicians are simply one of the best in the Valley – Tavit Tashjian, Al Beasley, and Max Beckman lay the foundation for every sung word our sanctuary and also provide amazing, faith-filled soundtracks during the Offertory and Communion. And our Guest Musicians (frequently featuring David Reed) add something special to every service they are a part of.

The Praise Team Vocalists (Charlie Atkinson, Brad Bond, Josh Reed,
Sandi DeFeo, Julie Erickson, Beth Porter, and Nancy Sauder) help get our worship service started in the right spirit every single Sunday and lead us in congregational singing and offer extraordinary special music as well!

The Chancel Choir contains too many names to list and does such an exquisite job offering us Choral Anthems on Sunday and this past year even worked their way into a few programs in the Fellowship Hall during special events. Their hard work and faithful practice is a blessing to the church.

And that is without even mentioning the congregational singing! It is such a blessing to be a part of a church that loves to sing as much as ours does! It not only brings our worship to life, it gives others permission to sing out to the Lord to their heart’s content as well. When we sing out together it makes it easier for others to join in and sing out with us.

So this Sunday come join us for worship as we celebrate the Lord with our praises and give thanks for the blessings of music. I’ll see you (and hope to hear you!) there.

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Psalm 8 Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Caring for Community and Creation

Check out this great new video from our friends at Green Chalice!

Faith in Action: Caring for Community and Creation from ecoAmerica on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Whiteboard: The Day of Pentecost


This Sunday is Pentecost!

It marks the passage of 50 days since our Easter Sunday Celebration. It marks the beginning of a new season in the worship life of the church. And it marks our celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit!

Oh, and it give us an excuse to wear red!

On Pentecost Sunday the colors of everything in the sanctuary change – we have red paraments, I’ll wear my red stole, we have red banners on the walls and (hopefully) pews full of church members decked out in red. We change the colors to commemorate the change in the season in the worship life of the church, and to welcome “the inspiring flame” of the Holy Spirit once again.

In preparation for our Pentecost Sunday worship service I keep coming back to the following prayer from “Chalice Worship”:

God of wind, word, and fire,
We bless your name this day for sending the light and strength of your Holy Spirit.
We give you thanks for all the gifts, great and small,
   that you have poured out upon your children.
Kindling Spirit, build well the fire in our hearts this day.
   Fan us to flame that all will see the Christ-presence of love blazing in our midst.
   Burn the witness on our tongues: Christ’s Spirit moves among us.
Jesus Christ, our risen Lord has set his church on fire with strength and boldness and power.
Kindling Spirit, build well the fire in our hearts this day
   to clean our hearts,
   to hallow our gifts,
   and to make perfect the offering of ourselves to you.
Amen.

I’ll see you on Sunday for Pentecost celebration. Don’t forget to wear red!
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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 25, 2017

Whiteboard: Trying to be One



It is one of the most important scripture readings for us as Disciples...and no, it doesn't involve Communion!

As Disciples of Christ we proudly declare that "Unity is our Polar Star" and so one of our guiding scriptures has always been John 17:11 where Christ himself declares, "Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one."

"That they may be one."

It is Christ's prayer for us, and it is our prayer as well.

This Sunday we'll be talking about Christian Unity, in a Sunday that is specially billed as Education Recognition Sunday. We'll be honoring our recent graduates at the beginning of the service, thanking our Sunday School Teachers and Worship and Wonder Leaders at the end of the service, and celebrating the God that makes us one all throughout the service!

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John 17:1-11 Jesus Prays for His Disciples

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 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.

Three Things from Admin Council

The Administrative Council had their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday May 21st immediately following the Worship Service. Here are "The Three Things" that you need to know from that meeting.


  1. Hospitality as a Focus
    We centered our "New Business" time around a larger conversation of Hospitality. Oftentimes we think of hospitality in very narrow terms -- it is that thing that we outsource to the Fellowship Team and the Greeters in the Narthex, right? But actually, hospitality is something that needs to be baked in to everything that we are and everything that we do as Christians. That means that hospitality needs to be a part of each of our ministry teams. Over the course of the conversation we reframed hospitality as invitations and follow-up. So what are we doing that invites folks to be a part of our community? What makes FCC Scottsdale a warm and inviting place? And how can we follow-up with folks who have participated in some aspect of our ministry?
  2. Property Updates
    We received several updates on church property related projects. New doors will be installed in the sanctuary this summer and the parking lot has been resealed. Administrative Council authorized Curt McCormick to seek an appraisal of our buildings as a supplement to our insurance. And we received the good news that through the first five months of the year our income is exceeding our expenses!
  3. Post-Election Plans
    During my Pastor's Report I shared my plans for communicating with the church following the UUA General Assembly's Presidential Election. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Whiteboard: At the Areopagus



You are looking at the blog title and you are thinking to yourself, "I don't even know how to pronounce that word, much less what it even means..."

Well, good news! That is exactly what I'll be explaining on Sunday (not just how to pronounce the word 'Aeropagus' but also exactly why that obscure geographic reference in the Acts of the Apostles is so very important).

In meantime, I hope you will read through Acts 17:22-31 (conveniently reprinted at the bottom of this post) and feel the power and the promise of some of the most familiar words in the New Testament: "For in him we live and move and have our being."

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Acts 17:22-31

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

Hospitality

The Executive Team and I have just completed a book study.

For folks who don’t know, the Executive Team at FCC Scottsdale is comprised of our Moderator Judy Kares, our Vice Moderator Scott Eubanks, our Treasurer Curt McCormick, and myself.
We meet regularly to discuss important items for the church, set the agenda for the Administrative Council Meetings, and discern the ways that God is calling our congregation forward. In order to set a theological grounding on those wider conversations, we have just finished reading Henri Nouwen’s spiritual classic “Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life.”

Henri Nouwen was a prolific writer, a deep Christian thinker, and bringer of profound insights into life and faith. Nouwen was a Catholic priest, author, professor and activist. He taught at the University of Notre Dame as well as the Divinity Schools of Yale and Harvard. He spent the final years of his life teaching and ministering to the mentally and physically disabled at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, Canada.

“Reaching Out” details the three movements of a spiritual life. They include:
  1. The movement from loneliness to solitude;
  2. The movement from hostility to hospitality;
  3. The movement from illusion to prayer.
Ultimately the book is about the fullness of right relationships. The first movement in a spiritual life is about coming to right relationship with our truest, inner self. From there we are prepared to move to right relationships with others. Finally we move all the way to the transforming power of a true relationship with God.

It is a beautiful, vivid way of envisioning the Christian faith, and in our discussion together the Executive Team came to see that the second movement (from hostility to hospitality) is actually the key component. Here is how Henri Nouwen puts it:

“Once God has touched us in the midst of our struggles and has created in us the burning desire to be forever united with him, we will find the courage and the confidence to prepare his way and to invite all who share our life to wait with us during this short time for the day of complete joy.”

This coming Sunday during our Administrative Council meeting we’ll be spending a lot of time talking about hospitality – about how our individual ministry teams can bring it to life; about the ways we create “safe spaces” for others in our church; about how we can grow in relationships with ourselves, with others, and with God.

I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation about hospitality, and seeing all the wonderful ways that God uses us to reach out to the world!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Whiteboard: Home



Our lectionary scriptures give us an interesting contrast this week; one that is built around the word house.

In our Gospel Reading from John 14 Jesus tells us "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" Here our faith leads us to a house that is waiting for us in the far distance of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Then our reading from 1 Peter tells us " Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Here our faith calls us to come together in this world in order to build a spiritual house in service to the Lord.

See how that word "house" lives squarely in the middle of each scripture passage? As we wrestle with what it means to have a "dwelling place" prepared for us in the "Father's house" or what it would look like for us to ourselves be "built into a spiritual house" I keep coming back to the same question: What does it take to transform a house into a home? 

Mother's Day seems like a fitting time to answer that question. Because, for me, the answer is simple: It is love.

Love is what transforms a house into a home. Love is what sends Jesus to prepare a place for us in Our Father's house. Love is what turns these living stones into a spiritual home.

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John 14:1-14 Jesus the Way to the Father

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

1 Peter 2:2-10 Living Stones

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner’,
and
‘A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.’
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Whiteboard: Denny Williams



This Sunday we will celebrate with a special guest.

Our Regional Minister the Rev. Dr. Denny Williams will be joining us for worship and for a special Outreach-sponsored Potluck dinner.

After serving as Arizona’s Regional Minister for more than 18 years, Denny will be retiring from that position at the end of June.

It is truly a blessing to be able to welcome Denny to our pulpit one last time as our Regional Minister, and to have the opportunity to thank him and celebrate the good work that we have done together during the Potluck Luncheon during Fellowship Hour.

Denny will be preaching on Acts 2:42-47 and sharing a message about "giving it all to God." 

I hope you can join us!

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Acts 2:42-47 Life Among the Believers

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Workship in Pictures

On April 30, 2017 we celebrated "The Fifth With First!"

Our Workship Team went out to Ronald McDonald House, where we were invited to wash windows, sweep the property and...host an ice-cream social!

It might be the single greatest project any mission partner has ever invited us to be a part of (or maybe that is just my sweet tooth talking!).

It was a true blessing to bring smiles to the faces of the children and families that are residing at the Ronald McDonald House. Folks are there because their children or family members are undergoing prolonged medical treatments at the nearby hospitals. While the families are facing that kind of stress and strain, to be able to share a little joy with them and bring some light into their lives, well, that sounds like the power of the Gospel at work to me.

Here are some photos of our work from the day. I am particularly proud of our children and young people who not only worked hard, but also embodied the fullness of hospitality throughout our project. Once we finally had the Ice-Cream Sundae Bar all set up, not only did our kids staff the dessert station they also went around the facility and personally invited every kid to come out and join them. It was a beautiful thing to behold, and a worthy project for the morning!


 
















Thursday, April 27, 2017

Whiteboard: The Fifth With First



This Sunday is the next installment of “The Fifth With First!”

For folks who are unfamiliar with that turn of phrase, “The Fifth With First” is our shorthand way of saying “The Fifth Sunday of the Month with First Christian Church.”

You see, on those months that have an extra Sunday (it happens four times a year) we make outreach our primary focus as a church. So we have two different offerings on Fifth Sundays: One is a Worship Service in our Sanctuary at 10:15 that is followed immediately by an outreach project in our Fellowship Hall, and the other is a Workship Service out in the community where we put our faith into action by helping others through direct service.

We have a special treat for the Worship Service in the Sanctuary this Sunday: The Rev. Terri Hord Owens is the nominee to serve as the next General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). And while I wish I could say that she was going to be with us in person on Sunday…well, her schedule is just a little bit too full for that right now! Instead, through the wonders of technology, we’ll be sharing a beautiful sermon that she crafted that introduces her to the wider church, shares her hopes and dreams for our denomination, and calls us to more fully embody the gift of God’s love in the world. You are going to love it, and you are going to love her too! Following the Worship Service in the Sanctuary the Outreach Team will lead a project in the Fellowship Hall that will benefit the summer literacy program at the Piute Center.

The Workship Service will begin with a short Prayer Service (with communion) at Chaparral Park at 9AM. From there we’ll head out to work with our partners at the Ronald McDonald House. Details are still coming together on that project, but I have heard rumors of helping out with an Ice Cream Party for the residents at the Ronald McDonald House – and bringing a little bit of joy to families in need while their loved ones are hospitalized sure sounds like holy work to me!

Whether you participate in the Worship Service and Outreach Project on site or the Workship Service and Community Outreach off site, I hope that you join us this Sunday in putting our faith into action!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Whiteboard: Creation Care



This Sunday Rev. Al Beasley will be filling the pulpit with a special message on Creation Care.

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Job 12:7-10, 37:14-16

‘But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of every human being.
‘Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
Do you know how God lays his command upon them,
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect,

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Whiteboard: Holy Week



It is Holy Week and we have all kinds of worshipful work ahead of us!

Like last year we will be sharing our Holy Week Worship services with our brothers and sisters at Foothills Christian Church and Coolwater Christian Church.

So, I hope you will be able to join us for the joint Maundy Thursday Service being hosted by Foothills (3951 W Happy Valley Road) tonight at 7PM. It will be a “Living Last Supper” Worship service.

I also hope that you will join us for the Good Friday Service on April 14 Coolwater Christian Church (28181 N 56th Street) at 7PM. This will be a “Service of the Last Seven Words of Christ.”

Thus prepared and ready for the fullness of the promise of resurrection and new life, we will gather on Easter Sunday for a full day of events at FCC Scottsdale.

The DWM Ladies will kick things off by hosting an Easter Breakfast for everyone. We’ll gather in the Fellowship Hall beginning at 8:30, and will have plenty of delicious items for everyone!

From there the kids will enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt on the church yard during the Sunday School Hour starting at 9:15. You’ll want to get there early so that you don’t miss out; our kids are expert Easter Egg hunters so those eggs get scooped up quickly!

Our Easter Morning Worship Service will begin with the holy sacrament of Baptism. This year we have three baptismal candidates: Jordan Dietz, Darren Dietz, and Henry Frederick-Gray. The worship service will feature beautiful music, Easter brass, and joyous “Alleluia” refrains as we celebrate together the blessing of new life and resurrection! Plus, the kids have a special surprise in store for us that just might involve Easter Bells (don’t worry kids, Sandi will clue you in on the whole thing before the Easter Egg Hunt. You’re going to love it!).

Wishing you a Blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter! Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Whiteboard: Hope in a Time of Despair



On Sunday we'll continue our Lenten "...in a time of..." sermon series.

Drawing on John 11:14-45 (The Raising of Lazarus) and Psalm 130 (A Prayer of Deliverance) we'll be talking about "Hope in a Time of Despair."

During the sermon I'll be talking about, well, one of the most famous pieces of graffiti in the world.

It comes from Banksy (internationally renowned street artist and provocateur) and it is named "There is Always Hope."


Take a look at the image. What do you see? What is happening? What exactly is the little girl doing?

Because it turns out that people encounter this image in one of two very different ways. I'll be talking about that, and the about the very nature of hope in my sermon on Sunday.

I HOPE to see you there!

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John 11:14-15, 38-45 Jesus Raises Lazarus

Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ 

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ 

Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 

So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 

The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Psalm 130 Waiting for Divine Redemption

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.

Three Things from the Elders Meeting

The Elders had their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday following the Membership Potluck.

As is our practices, here are "The Three Things" we want you to know from that meeting.


  1. The Elders have made dozens of visits and contacts with our church members
    Our Elders are reaching out to the homebound and hospitalized members of our congregation on a regular basis. They are checking in with the members of their Shepherding Groups. They are extending the care and compassion of Christ. The reported number here ("dozens") is a bit loose, because they are still formalizing the total number of visits, cards, phone calls, and emails they have sent out...but know that your Elders are hard at work in their care-giving ministry!

  2. They Cleaned-up Their Visitation Lists
    You probably don't know this, but the Elders keep a detailed list of our homebound members, those members in hospitals, those members recovering at rehab facilities, and members in need of prayer. We update those lists weekly via email correspondence, but at our Elders Meetings we walk through those lists, name by name to offer any further updates and discern who is missing from our lists and who has graduated off of them.

  3. Prayers for our Baptismal Candidates
    I reported to the Elders on Sunday that we have three baptismal candidates this year: Jordan, Darren, and Henry. As they are completing their "Pastor's Class" with me in preparation for baptism on Easter Morning, I asked the Elders to please keep these three youth in their prayers. Jordan, Darren, and Henry are as excited to be baptized and fully welcomed into the membership of this congregation and the fellowship of the wider church as any baptismal candidates I have ever seen!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Whiteboard: Abundance



Typically we think of Lent as a time of giving things up. We set aside those stumbling blocks in our lives and we strive to give up those old vices or bad habits. Lent then becomes a time of negation.

Which makes it kind of strange to talk about Lent as a time of Abundance.

But that is the flip side of the coin, isn't it?

That as we are turning away from those old vices and bad habits we are, in fact, moving toward spiritual health and wholeness. In a world that is so much defined by want and shortcoming it is remarkable that our faith reminds us, time and time again, that ours is a God of abundance. God's love is eternal and God's forgiveness reaches out to us and God's mercy washes over us. Ours is not a God who comes up short and leaves us wanting, but rather a God who ever walks with us, strengthening us, empowering us, leading us and guiding us every step of the way.

We see it best in one of the most popular and familiar passages of scripture. In fact, it is probably why Psalm 23 is one of our very favorites, because it reminds of everything that God is and promises the gifts of God's abundance.

So this Sunday we'll be continuing our Lenten Sermon series by drawing on Psalm 23 to talk about "Abundance in a Time of Want." I'll see you in worship!

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Psalm 23 The Divine Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Three Things from Admin Council

The Administrative Council held their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday immediately following the Worship Service. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:
  1. S.A.I.L. Coming up on June 14 to July 19
    Our Summer Adventures In Learning series will return for a third straight year, with the program running every Wednesday Night from 5:45 to 7:30 from June 14 to July 19. There will be dinner, Bible stories, dramatic performances, crafts, songs, and wonderful fellowship! Postcards will be going out shortly to all of our young people and volunteer opportunities will be coming up for our church members!
  2. Understanding our Love Gift Policy
    Mary led an excellent discussion on the church's "Love Gift" Policy. (For the record, "Love Gifts" are any financial donation that is made by a member or a friend of FCC Scottsdale that is not a part of their regular pledge or offering). The discussion helped all of the Admin Council members come to a clearer understanding of our church's financials, the difference between designated and undesignated gifts, and how we can better record the wishes of the giver for our church records. If you would like to see a copy of the "Love Gift" Policy then just contact us in the church office.
  3. Introduction of the General Minister and President Nominee
    Rev. Brian offered a thorough introduction of the Rev. Teresa "Terri" Hord Owens who is our nominee for the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The election will happen at General Assembly in Indianapolis this summer. Rather than rehash the introduction that was offered, you can learn more about Rev. Terri at the "Meet the Candidate" page on the Disciples.org website. In fact, stop by regularly because they are updating that page all the time with new materials!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thanksgiving in an Unsatisfied Time



On the Third Sunday of Lent I want us to consider: What if Thanksgiving wasn't just a holiday meal featuring turkey and stuffing? What if Thanksgiving was a spiritual discipline -- a conscious, consistent act of carefully discerning the blessings of God and offering a word of gratitude? What would happen if we took an entire week, right in the middle of this Season of Lent to be thankful?

Because I'm willing to bet that if we did that, then something amazing would happen to us.

I'm willing to bet that if we started looking out for the things we can be thankful for, that we'd find them at every bend.

I'm willing to bet that suddenly, we'd have this amazing list of blessings to share...not because God is rewarding us with favors because of our thankfulness, but because our thankfulness opens our eyes to the blessings that have been there all along.

It is easy to get sucked into the vortex of dissatisfaction. To focus all of our energy on what we want, on what is wrong, on what hurts and what isolates us. We see that in this Sunday's scripture passage from Exodus 3:11-17, what I like to call "An Official Meeting of the Back to Egypt Committee." The Israelite people "thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’" It is easy to be unsatisfied.

It is so much more life-giving, though, to focus on thankfulness -- on what is blessing us, on what we have to give, on the generous spirit that fills us and lifts us and sets us free. We see that in our other sermon scripture for this Sunday, Psalm 95: "Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God!"

This Sunday we'll look to take a break from "The Official Meetings of the Back to Egypt Committee" and instead focus our energies and our spiritual disciplines on the way of Thanksgiving.

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Exodus 17:1-7 Water from the Rock

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

The people quarreled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ 

Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ 

But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 

So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ 

Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’


Psalm 95 A Call to Worship and Obedience

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they do not regard my ways.’
Therefore in my anger I swore,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Whiteboard: The Second Sunday in Lent



I met with our Moderator, Judy K., this week and in our wide ranging conversation we really drilled down on one particular question: What does it mean to be God's people in such a time as this?

When Judy articulated the question with just those words I jumped up and grabbed my worship plans for the Season of Lent...because, well, sometimes the Spirit moves among us.

I showed Judy that I'd been planning a "Faithfulness in this Time" sermon series.

We kicked things off last Sunday with a sermon on "Forgiveness in an Unforgiving Time" and I'll continue the series this week with "Assurance in a Time of Fear."

If you are anything like me, when you see that word "Assurance" then the familiar words of an old church hymn fill your mind.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine

O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long


Perfect submission, all is at rest

I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

"Blessed Assurance" is one of the most beloved and well known hymns that we have as a church. It reaffirms the promises of God's blessing, the gift of his love, and the power of Christ to claim us and change us.

In the midst of a world that tells us so many stories (that we are unworthy, that we are insignificant, that we are in constant danger, that all is lost) we dare to affirm that "this is my story" (a story of salvation, glory, and the gift of Christ Jesus). 

This Sunday I'll be telling the little known origin story of "Blessed Assurance" to help us hear those words with fresh ears and to know that these promises are ours...even in times such as these.

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Psalm 121 Assurance of God’s Protection

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Whiteboard: The First Sunday in Lent



Our friends at the SALT Project (the good folks behind the Advent Family Devotional Calendar we used last year) have put together an excellent Lenten Devotional Booklet. It comes with weekly spiritual disciplines, scripture prompts, and a meditation guide.

I'll be introducing the Lenten Devotional Booklet during my sermon this Sunday and we'll be using it each week throughout the Season of Lent.

And here is the thing: The SALT Project's Lenten Devotional Booklet has a fabulous "introducing Lent" section. Here is what they have to say:

The name "Lent" comes from the an old English word for "lengthening,"
referring to the gradually longer days of springtime. From Ash Wednesday
to Easter Sunday, what was cold becomes warm. What was dormant 
awakens. Just as green shoots break through the winter earth, so the
church stirs into action to proclaim the Easter mystery: in dying, God
destroys death and in rising, God delivers and proclaims newness of life.

Throughout Lent I'll be leading a sermon series on the spiritual gifts that we can develop like "green shoots that break through the winter earth" as we too stir into action. I'll be kicking things off this Sunday by focusing on the gift of forgiveness and exactly what it means for us to be "A Forgiving People in an Unforgiving Time." 

I hope to see you this Sunday (when we'll be handing out the Lenten Devotional Booklets to everyone at worship) and all through this holy season in the life of the church.

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Psalm 32 The Joy of Forgiveness

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017



I was in Indianapolis earlier this week for the General Board Meeting of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

Since we’ve developed this practice with our leadership board here at FCC Scottsdale, it only seems fair to do the same thing for the General Board…so without further adieu, here are “The Three Things” you should know from that meeting!

  1. We formally nominated the Rev. Terri Hord Owens as our candidate for General Minister and President of the denomination.
    So there is a little bit of confusion in the church on this one. The General Board is NOT tasked with calling the next President of our denomination – only the General Assembly can do that. What the General Board does is affirm the nomination of a candidate selected by the Search Committee that is then forwarded on to the whole church for a final decision. So at the General Assembly in July we’ll have the chance to call a new GMP, and our candidate is the Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens.

    Rev. Terri is the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Divinity School where she works with ministers in training, helping to develop the leaders of our tradition and other protestant denominations. In addition to that fulltime job, Rev. Terri also serves as the Senior Pastor of First Christian Church of Downers Grove, IL. That means that she has a unique, first hand understanding of bi-vocational ministry and what it means to serve in a small church context.

    What’s more, ministry is a second career for Rev. Terri. She has over 20 years of corporate experience where she served as an executive and consultant with technology companies. She specialized in working with large teams, restructuring organizations, and creatively meeting the needs of large scale operations.

    You can learn more about Rev. Terri by clicking here.
  2. We formally launched a new Mission Imperative for the church.
    We have been doing a two year Mission First! Pilot Project as a General Church. As a part of that process more than 80 Mission Gatherings were held throughout the United States and Canada, with the intention of hearing directly from our churches and rallying around a common mission imperative.

    At the General Board Meeting the Mission Council unveiled our Mission Priority: “God calls us to work with and for children, youth and young adults so together we may share and receive the good news of Jesus Christ by creating communities of healing, learning and transformation.”

    The hope is that this Mission Priority will help orient the work of local congregations, focus the programs of General Church units, and foster cooperation between local churches.

    You can learn more about the Mission Priority and the Mission First Project by clicking here.
  3. We approved a boatload of reports and resolutions for General Assembly this summer.

    The whole church will be gathering in Indianapolis this summer for General Assembly from July 8-12. In the build up to General Assembly we received reports from all of the General Units of the Church and the Regions as well (and that was really exciting! There are incredible things happening in the name of Christ!). We also edited official resolutions for consideration (which is about as boring as it gets, but is nonetheless necessary work!). Those reports and resolutions will posted on the GA Website shortly.

    You can learn more about General Assembly by clicking here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Whiteboard: Guest Preacher


I'll be out of the pulpit this Sunday as I'm attending the General Board Meeting of our denomination in Indianapolis.

While I'm away Dave Groves will be our guest preacher and he'll be bringing a powerful word about the Parables of Jesus. You won't want to miss it!

Here is Dave's guiding scripture for the morning:

Matthew 13: 1-17
The Parable of the Sower

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

The Purpose of the Parables

Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017



From this year's Week of Compassion Planning and Resource Guide:

It is a common, perhaps daily, experience for many of us, as we live in our technology driven age: a pin drops on a GPS map, marking a current location or indicating a destination, orienting us in space. These map pins represent where we are and where we hope to go.

The scriptures for the special offering this year provide a similar point of reference, an orientation for our lives-- God is near; love one another in truth and action; feed those who are hungry, clothe those who are naked, welcome those who are strangers. These texts help us position ourselves in relation to God and to one another by reminding us of our call to be here for one another, loving one another as God has loved us. Our destination, where our map pin sits, is near to the heart of God, is alongside our neighbors who are suffering.
FCC Scottsdale will be collecting the Week of Compassion Special Mission Offering from Sunday February 19 until Sunday February 26. Learn more at weekofcompassion.org

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Matthew 25:31-40 The Judgement of the Nations

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Whiteboard: Now Hear This



Jesus follows a familiar rhetorical formula in our scripture reading this Sunday: "You have heard it said...but I say unto you..."

In the fifth chapter of Matthew Jesus uses that turn of phrase five times, talking about everything from Anger to Oaths.

The distinction that he is trying to draw is that the world tells us one thing, while God demands of us something altogether different.

The trouble with our modern world (and a trouble that has grown all the more pronounced) is that we are hearing all sorts of things -- competing, often mutually exclusive claims -- and that more and more well meaning people can't even agree on the facts of an issue, much less how best to address it.

Into a confused and confusing media landscape the radical call of Jesus' words ring even more true. In a time when so much vitriol is spewed between rival political factions, Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek." When we define ourselves more and more by our antagonism of an opponent, Jesus says, "Love your enemies."

Gone are the days when we all get our news from one common source, when we can wait for the evening press to fill us in on "all that is fit to print." Nonetheless, Jesus call to us rings out clear and profound -- God demands of you more, not less. God calls you to be an ambassador for the Gospel, not another perpetrator of division.

This Sunday we'll talk about reconciliation, discipleship, and the importance of offering a different kind of witness to a world worn weary with division.

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Matthew 5: 21-26, 38-48 
On Anger, Retaliation and Enemies

‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Whiteboard: Be These


They are definitive statements from Jesus.

"You are the salt of the earth."

"You are the light of the world."

These words stand as reminders and challenges to us.

Jesus is, in essence, saying, "Be these!"

So this Sunday we'll talk about exactly what it means to be salt and light.

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Matthew 5:13-20 Salt and Light

‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Pictures from The Fifth With First

The Fifth With First was a tremendous success on Sunday January 29!

In the Fellowship Hall following the Worship Service we had a team of volunteers pack 48 lunch bags that have been delivered to our sister congregation at First Christian Church Glendale to support their homeless feeding program.

Meanwhile, across town our Workship Team was hard at work helping out a local neighbor in need. Once again we partnered with our friends at Operation Fix-It, and spent the morning doing yard work that otherwise would have resulted in major fines from the city. We had 32 people helping out, including our friend Deanna who comes down from Canada once a year and schedules her trips to coincide with out Workship Projects!

Here are some photos from the clean-up effort on Sunday:

Before Photo

Part of our Work Crew!

The tallest eucalyptus trees in Scottsdale, left us
lots and lots of leaves to rake up! 

Thanks to our friends at Operation Fix-It for
dropping off the supply truck!

Hard at work!

Serving the Lord!

The Kids' Team getting to work!

Trimming Trees

Welcoming first visitors and helpers

Cleaning out flower beds...

and more flower beds!

Stomping down the leaves.

After picture!

One of the giant eucalyptus trees

Our crew!

The clean-up pile, ready for our friends at the
City of Scottsdale to come and haul it away!