Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Whiteboard: The Fifth With First

This Sunday is “The Fifth With First!”

The Workship Service will kick things off at 9AM with a brief prayer service at the ramada at Chaparral Park. We’ll hear a word of scripture, celebrate communion, pray together, and then head out for a work project set up by our partners at Operation Fix-It. That means that we’ll be in the community helping out a neighbor in need by doing some exterior home and yard work around their house. It is a great project with a great partner, and I hope you can come out and join us for the Workship Service!

For folks who are planning on attending the Worship Service in the Sanctuary, Rev. Al Beasley will be leading the service and preaching a powerful sermon based on Micah 6:1-8 (“He has shown you, O mortals, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”).

Then after the worship service the Outreach Team will host a work project in the Fellowship Hall where Rev. Judy Stall will lead folks in preparing food bags for our sister congregation FCC Glendale. You see, FCC Glendale has a weekly food ministry in their church that provides sack lunches to local homeless men and women. They typically distribute between 50 and 60 bags a week, and we’ll be preparing the food bags for them this time around!

It is going to be a wonderful Sunday for “The Fifth With First!” I hope you can join us as we reach out to our community!


Micah 6:1-8 from The Message
What God Is Looking For

1-2 Listen now, listen to God:
“Take your stand in court.
If you have a complaint, tell the mountains;
make your case to the hills.
And now, Mountains, hear God’s case;
listen, Jury Earth—
For I am bringing charges against my people.
I am building a case against Israel.

3-5 “Dear people, how have I done you wrong?
Have I burdened you, worn you out? Answer!
I delivered you from a bad life in Egypt;
I paid a good price to get you out of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you—
and Aaron and Miriam to boot!
Remember what Balak king of Moab tried to pull,
and how Balaam son of Beor turned the tables on him.
Remember all those stories about Shittim and Gilgal.
Keep all God’s salvation stories fresh and present.”

6-7 How can I stand up before God
and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
my precious baby, to cancel my sin?

8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.

Three Things from the Elders

The Elders had their first meeting of 2017 this past Sunday. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:

1. Daily Email Devotions
Sandi DeFeo, as Chair of the Elders, is sending out Daily Prayer Devotions to our Elders over email in order to help our Spiritual Leaders continue to strengthen their personal faith life.

2. Teaming Up with Membership

The Elders will be working jointly with our Membership Team in order to care for our members and reach out to visitors and prospective members.

3. Upcoming Elders Retreat
The Elders will meet on 2/2/17 from 12:30 until 4:30 for an intentional time of retreat so that they can pray together, plan together, and work
together in service to the Lord!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council had their first meeting of 2017 on Sunday January 15 immediately following the worship service. As always, here are "The Three Things" that you should know from that meeting!

1. Joint Lenten Worship Services
For the second year in a row we will be sharing our Lenten Worship Services with our sister congregations at Foothills and Coolwater. FCC Scottsdale will be hosting the Ash Wednesday Service on 3/1/17 at 7PM in our Sanctuary, Foothills will host the Maundy Thursday Service on April 13 and Coolwater will host the Good Friday Service on April 14. It was a great way for us to get to know our brothers and sisters and Christ last year, and I'm sure it is going to be even better a second time around!

2. Finance Team and Gift Policies
The Finance Team will be clarifying our policies and procedures for accepting financial gifts and making sure that they are put to use correctly.

3. Full Budget Review
In a technical part of our work, the Admin Council Reviewed our Budget, and Combined Funds, helping us on our way to a Balanced Budget.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Whiteboard: Gone Fishing

It is a pun.

We miss those sometimes, particularly when we are translating from one language to another.

Scripture gives us a pun in Matthew 4:12-23.

He is calling his first disciples, who happen to be fishermen, and so scripture tells us:

He said to the fishermen, "I will make you fish for men."

It is a pun. Fishermen and fish-for-men sound similar in Koine Greek (the original language of Matthew and the rest of the New Testament) just like they sound similar in English.

But here is the thing: Jesus wasn't just talking men in a gender-identity kind of way. He wasn't saying to his earliest disciples, "I only want you to preach the good news to guys. Forget about the ladies entirely." So now we have a double dilemma. Do you keep the pun and exclude the women? Or do you include everybody, but goof up the wordplay? Or is there, miracle of all linguistic miracles, some way to do both?

The New Revised Standard Version (which we use in worship) went with Option #2 (Include Everybody, but Goof up the Wordplay). They translate the passage as:

...for they were fishermen. And he said to them,
"Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."

That has always driven me crazy! The playfulness of the text, the power of the pun completely vanishes. It all becomes so, well, clunky when fishermen is followed by the completely indeciperable fish for people.

It is why I've always preferred the third option -- a fresher translation that reads:

...for they were fishermen. And he said to them,
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men and women."

See how easy that was! The pun is still there. The Universality of the message is still there. And in church this Sunday I'll share with you why all of that is so important!


Matthew 4:12-23 Jesus Begins His Ministry

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 

‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.’ 

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Whiteboard: Introducing Jesus (all over again)

It seems a funny thing to have to do -- introducing Jesus, all over again.

After all, we're coming off of a prolonged period of introductions. With Advent we spent four weeks getting ready to greet him, then at Christmas he celebrated his birth and with Epiphany we followed the Magi from the East as they came to bring him greetings and blessings.

And yet, this Sunday here is John the Baptist giving us yet another introduction...and with good reason!

In many ways the Christmas season is all about introducing us to the Christ child, but on Sunday John the Baptist wants us to know Jesus the Messiah.

Now, I don't mean for those to sound like two different people. Because they are not. It is just that they represent different stages in the life of our savior that emphasis different aspects of the narrative of our faith.

The Christ child comes into this world in much the same way as any other baby -- full of promise, wonder, and love. In the case of the Christ child it is the promise of God's love miraculously breaking into this world; it is God's eternal promise coming to fruition once and for all.

Then suddenly the narrative jumps forward three decades into the future and here we are with a full grown Jesus the Messiah -- preaching and teaching, calling disciples and doing miraculous things in the name of God Most High. It is a jarring jump forward and so John the Baptist is here to help smooth that rocky transition. He introduces us to Jesus all over again that we might know him (he's more than just a promise now!) and what he is up to (so that we too can follow him!).

So come join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale as we are reintroduced to Jesus, our Lord and Savior, all over again!


Pictures from Texas

Years ago when I first started this as my "professional blog" a church member asked me, "What is the difference between this 'professional blog' and a 'personal' one?" I joked, "Well, you won't be seeing cute baby pictures of my son on it!"

And for the most part I have held firm on that distinction...except when I haven't!

So here is a quick blog post to say "Thank you" to my church family for the time off after Christmas and into the first week on January. I was able to use that vacation time to join with my family (and I mean all of my family) in Texas. Susan, Henry, and I were able to gather with my sisters, their husbands and their kids at my parents' house and spend some extended time with extended family. As part of the celebration we scheduled a photo session with a local photographer at a nearby ranch (it is Texas after all!).

So here are some of the photos from that session that capture just a touch of what my time away was about -- reconnecting with family, recharging our batteries, and enjoying time together with folks I don't get to see nearly enough.

The whole family gathered on a front porch.

Susan, Henry, and me.

Mom and Dad surrounded by their four kids.

All the cousins in the back of an old pick-up truck.

The kiddos goofing off.

Me with my neice (and goddaughter).