On Sunday February 16th, 2014, Sam Geli gave us a sermon on Little Zaccheus the tax collector and his first meeting with Jesus. Click on the picture of poor Zaccheus below and see the full powerpoint to learn the story of his transformation. Then ponder this - How has Jesus changed your life?
As I write today I am preparing for my final 8 worship services as your transitional pastor. Reading ahead in the lectionary I was drawn to the Epistle readings which for 5 more weeks are in 1st Corinthians. What a great letter to explore.
I decided to do a Sermon Series on 1st Corinthians – here are the topics and verses – reading the letter would be to your advantage!
January 26: But We Can Still Love – 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
February 2: The Wisdom of the Cross is Yours – 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
February 9: The Spirit Shows Us Truth – 1 Corinthians 2:1-12
February 16: You Are God’s Building - – 1 Corinthians 3:1-19
February 23: You Belong to God – 1 Corinthians
As we begin this Corinthian sermon series ask yourself this - When you notice a problem in your family or in your business, or your health or wealth – how do you fix things? Often we have a tendency to pinpoint the problem and start fixing what is broken right away.
Not Paul - in I Corinthians, even though the church had some grave issues to deal with, Paul starts off by identifying their giftedness and the strengths the community had been given through the amazing grace of God.
After that, THEN he got to the core challenge that this community was facing. “I appeal to you” he says. You have all these gifts, these sources of strength. So use them for God’s glory! Trust in the strength of your gifts and the power of the Giver to help you heal these urgent issues that are threatening your ability to give witness to Christ, or to perform your mission, and maybe even to stay alive and functioning as a community in Jesus Christ.
Paul is not a shy guy when it comes to naming the issues of the faithful. Right off the bat he hits on factions. They have formed clubby little factions based on which leaders they like the most. Have you ever known a church to do that? Gasp!
OK. But seriously, Paul wasn’t saying factions were the only challenge church could face. He sure wasn’t saying it was the Corinthians only problem! (You may note a few more in the coming weeks.) But he was identifying factions as the core issue that Corinth faced at the time that he was writing to them.
What it all boils down to is that whatever issues were causing them woe, the first step was for them to remember that they were made into one body in Jesus Christ by the grace of God. They were never meant to be a bunch of political or religious or personality groups who just happen to gather for worship in the same place at the same time.
“Knock it off, already!” Paul told them. Celebrate your differences, but play nice and play on the same team! After all, our fellowship is not in factions, or in leaders we like. Your fellowship, as the Body of Christ, is in Christ himself and Christ only.
Hmm… Think I just preached this week’s semon!
And in March we’ll be Getting into Lent -
March 2: The Changer and the Changed - Matthew 17 1-9 March 9: Lent Begins – Vision Quest - Matthew 4:1-11 March 16: Born from Above and So Very Much Loved – John 3:1-17
I am praying every day that the future brings you, by Go’s grace, a pastor who will guide you in the ways of God’s will for you – “a perfect for you” Pastor to walk with you into the future of the FCC(DOC) in Santa Barbara.
God bless you all!
Pastor Elaine Schoepf
The following is an article provided by long time member and great humorist Bill Sharrett, sharing many memories and thoughts during our Christmas season.
While walking through the church recently in the middle of the week, it was very quiet--and to be honest, a little spooky, since someone had recently called me Scrooge, who by the way is one of my very favorite movie heroes. I couldn’t help but think this quiet beautiful church is lot like the ghosts of Christmas that Scrooge visits in that great movie “A Christmas Carol”. Each room I went in brought back so many unforgettable memories of when I was a young man. These people I see mostly have been
gone for a great many years and so there are only a few of us old folks left that would remember if I named them.
They were role models for me and I am sure for you as well. They shaped our lives as we grew into adulthood in our church. I find it amazing that I can remember these dear people and the things they did. Little things like just being a good Christian person. Remember this. Be careful what you do or say. Someone may be listening or watching. Yes, we hear a lot about the ghosts of Christmas but I don’t believe in ghosts. But I do believe in “SAINTS”, the people I talked about in this little
story are “saints” that taught me about the journey to Bethlehem—A child is born in a manger who lives today in our hearts. What a beautiful story. Each year it has a new meaning to me. That is my Christmas story—I pray you will leave some wonderful memories for those who come when we are gone.
It’s ok as you old folks take a nap in the easy chair to let your mind wander back to “Christmas Past”, take a walk through the church or your home when you were a child. I am sure you will have a smile on your face. Someone may see that smile and wonder what that’s all about. Just tell them you just saw a ghost and enjoyed it a lot.
Merry Christmas to you.
Welcome 2014! The season of Advent has given birth to the season of Christmas - We have celebrated the Birth of the Child who came to express God's incomprehensible love for the human race. Now we move on. We move forward. We grow along with the Child Jesus. Learning. Making mistakes along the way. Finding new ways of understanding and new ways of expressing ourselves.
One of the things we are learning is how to let God take the lead. We want so much to do well, to do right. But our desire to do well sometimes gets mixed up with our desire to be right, or our desire to be on top. Those are purely human desires - pretty much impossible to avoid at some point in our lives. But if we have committed our lives to letting God lead us through out lives, we might need to examine our deisre to control the outcome of our lives. - and other folks lives, too.
I wonder what human challenges Jesus faced as he was growing up and maturing. Was one of the the desire to control - to take the reins from God - or the "reign" in Jesus case? I wonder how many times he had to be reminded as a child or to remind himself as he grew older, that he wasn't in control, God was.
God is still in control. No matter how many times we try to grab thte steering wheel and drive. We, as I imagine even Jesus did as he matured, have to let go and return control to God - sometimes more often than others. We turn it over and take it back and turn it over again...
But the more we turn things ofer to God and let God lead us instead of trying to lead God, well - the easier and more bountiful and beautigul the journey will be.
As we enter this new year, I invite you to walk with Jesus, and remember that when things are confounding you - it's probably just time to turn things over again.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
When Elaine, Gayle and I were at the PSWR Disciples Women’s retreat at Loch Leven the beginning of November I was asked to share a success story from our church and a scripture that relates to it – The scripture I chose was 2 Corinthians 9:11-13 (NIV) the success story follows.
11) You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.12) This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13) Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
We have a wonderful success story that I'd like to share that has gone on for quite a while now - it is of how the Christian Men's fellowship group at FCC Santa Barbara has been so very successful in raising funds over the years to end up each year able to purchase different animals through Heifer International.
This is a group that has grown and ebbed to it's current 3 men who every month meet for lunch and have a meeting, fellowship and contribute to an ongoing fund where they were first inspired by one of our women's groups long ago. They wanted to contribute to help others in the world so found Heifer International to suit what they were looking for because of how it is able to pay forward and affect so many people. They started out purchasing goats and gaggles of geese. One year, when my Dad was in the group, they were able to purchase a full menagerie for a village!
The past three years in a row with only three men they've been able to purchase a water buffalo each year. These are surely dedicated men who enjoy each other's company and fellowship. The funny thing is even though for so many years they meet at the local IHOP and I'm sure the waitresses know what they like to order - All their wives also go to lunch. These women came from the very group that inspired the men to take on this project and yet they give the men their meeting space and have lunch together (just the women) at a separate table enjoying friendship and fellowship as well over the years!
FCC Santa Barbara is blessed to have these ladies and gentlemen who not only enjoy each other's company but are able to encourage each other to give and reach out to the world and to pay God's love forward through a great organization. Heifer International is a wonderful way to give throughout the year and especially at Christmas time. One of the most wonderful presents I received once at church was a gift to Heifer in my honor. I’ve given these in the past as well which Heifer’s organization makes it easy – check them online at http://www.heifer.org/ or on their Pinterest page (lots of photos) at http://www.pinterest.com/heiferint/ If you have any questions on how to do this ask me, I’ll be happy to share it with you.
Peace, Lynda Bell
This is a general blog by First Christian Church and has several authors. Our Pastor, Our Moderator, Webmaster, and some other members who sign their articles - mostly from our newsletter "The Chimes"