In Church, At Christmas Time

sacc tree

It's Christmas week, and you know what that means--re-runs! I wrote this piece last year, but as our staff puts final touches on the Christmas Eve services for tomorrow, I am reminded, all over again, that the sacred community bears gifts of miraculous proportions. I'm sharing this again today, with great thanksgiving for all the people who 'do' church, and who make Christmas happen for others. Blessings...The phone is ringing off the hook,The sanctuary’s hard to book.It's p … [Read more...]

In Season

tomatoes

It's fixin to be June in Phoenix. Lord help us...Some of you know that I’m kind of a snob about tomatoes. I mean, I LOVE tomatoes…But by ‘tomato,’ I do not mean those things that come out of a California hot house in January. That is NOT a tomato.But I can rhapsodize about a real tomato all day long—and the perfect BLT that I make when, on the rarest of occasions, I can lay hands on an actual tomato in the desert. My 4-year-old daughter loves tomatoes too. In fact, she frequently asks for … [Read more...]

A Song and a Prayer: The Holy Week Playlist

instruments

Throughout the season of Advent,  Christmas music (for better or worse) blares at us everywhere we go. That means, for those of us who preach/lead worship/make church happen, we stay in a nearly constant state of season-mindfulness. Whether we like it or not. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we cannot escape the fact that Christmas is coming.The season of Lent has not quite seeped into secular culture in the same saturating way. Where is the soundtrack for Holy Week? How are we to … [Read more...]

Go and See

Go and See Image 2ornaments

Advent and Christmas might be the most hectic time in the church year. But it can also be the fullest and most blessed. All the serving and sharing, the singing and decorating, the gathering and singing some more...it all leads up to something that feels almost magical, as we gather in a candle-lit, greened up sanctuary on Christmas Eve.Or i should say, sanctuaries. Because part of the magic of that sacred gathering is knowing that, in sanctuaries all over the world, others gather to sing … [Read more...]

What We Never Knew We Needed

taize

Guest Post: Rev. Andrew Shepherd is Pastoral Resident at Foothills Christian Church in Phoenix. He also likes to make beer, but is keeping his day job for now.What are you waiting for?I still remember my first Kindle. It was a 21st birthday gift from my mother. When I first opened it, I didn’t really know what it was. The box was covered with the words “Amazon,” and it was printed with reviews extolling this product as “revolutionary.” It didn’t take me very long to agree with them (nor … [Read more...]

Week 2, Day 2: Magnificat

hill-and-hale

Mary's was the original Christmas carol. She is the reason that we sing our way through the season, the reason we can muster a song of joy in December, despite whatever cold, gray, snow or sleet might otherwise prevail. (Well, not at my house--70 and sunny here in AZ today, and yet the desert folks are dragging out mittens and making chili...)Thanks to Mary's song of praise, we enjoy a whole broad spectrum of songs in this season that help us to worship, to celebrate, to engage the gospel in … [Read more...]

til by Turning, Turning, We Come ‘Round Right

sanctuary

Spoiler alert: if you are coming to Foothills for worship tomorrow and you want to be surprised, wait and read this on Monday.Over six years ago, when i first walked into the sanctuary at Foothills, what i saw with my eye and what i saw with my heart were two different things. My eye saw a space that was much-loved, though cared for with limited resources. Bright (i mean bright!) paint colors that detracted from the beautiful stain glass; old carpet; a communion table and pulpit in synthetic … [Read more...]

A Good Word

On sabbatical, i had the opportunity to go to worship in other places. Like, just GO to church! If you have ever led worship and/or preached on a regular basis, you know that getting to experience worship on the other end, and not have to create or facilitate it in some way, is a gift. Several weeks of this made me realize how much i was missing, being always on the other side of the pulpit--and how i could be a much better preacher if i took time, more often, to hear what other folks are doing … [Read more...]

A Primer for New Life: Painting Over Pastels

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I have waited years for this.When i came to Foothills--nearly 6 years ago--i looked around and saw some things that needed doing. And i saw some things that needed changing. Some of them were tangible, physical things--like the purple and turquoise walls in the sanctuary, the aging carpet, and the website. Other areas of concern had to do with infrastructure--the death-by-committee organization that is killing so many mainline churches, and the hit-or-miss quality of worship (including the … [Read more...]


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