september 21, 2022

 

I began the sermon time last Sunday with a game of “Church Family Feud” based on the TV game show Family Feud.  After a few introductory comments and instructions, I announced the question. “100 Christian Saints were surveyed and were asked this question, ‘What do you make a list for?’”  I had thought of secular answers along the lines of the responses on the popular TV show. I had selected answers including the following: To Do List, Grocery List, Bucket List, Honey-Do List, and a Santa Claus List.


However, I had set myself up for one extremely appropriate answer that was NOT along secular lines. I had announced the game of Church Family Feud. I remarked that Christian Saints were surveyed.  So it was completely fitting when Pam Huggins said, “Prayer List.”  That was an absolutely fabulous answer for the game Church Family Feud.


Speaking of “church lists,” I have recently been reminded of quite a few “lists” Coolwater has created in our mission and ministry. The three-year loan modification on the building loan between Coolwater and the Board of Church Extension comes to an end next month. We are currently working to negotiate another three-year term for our building loan.  At a meeting in June, a representative from Board of Church Extension relayed a request for information about our church mission and activity to take to Board of Church Extension.  


The Year in Review powerpoints that Karen Blue has created over the years provided an excellent presentation of our life and ministry together. They became a key component to share our story with Board of Church Extension. I wrote a narrative to accompany and expand on the powerpoints.  As I looked through the Year in Reviews of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 to date I saw the makings of numerous “lists.” 


Here a few of those lists: a list of a variety of worship experiences, a list of ways Coolwater reached out to people during the pandemic, a list of study and meditation opportunities, a list of special events (like the 10th Anniversary of the Building, and the Drive-thru Nativity), a list of many outreach projects, and a list of people and agencies Coolwater has supported through outreach efforts,  There are certainly others lists you could make with a glance at the Year in Review collection Karen created.


To me, the most impressive “list” was all of the Coolwater people at worship, ministry and mission.  I saw a list of the body of Christ.  Paul tells us that we are individually a part of the Body of Christ and together we are the Body of Christ.  That is what I see at Coolwater as we serve Christ together.  Together, we are sharing our burdens and cares, giving grace to help us through inevitable human errors along the way, reaching out to others in the name of Christ, and building one another up.  That is being Church Family, and that is being the Body of Christ.

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Blessings,

Pastor Rick

september 7, 2022

Beginning in late July and continuing through all of August, the scriptures for the sermons have been from the New Testament letters.  The first “series” was broadly titled “Wisdom From the New Testament Letters: Being Shaped For Fulfilling Our Mission.”  The scriptures in September and through the first Sunday in October continue to be from the New Testament letters.  Now the emphasis shifts to “Wisdom From the New Testament Letters: Being the Church in Action.”  God has shaped us and continues to shape us to be the church in action in our time and place.  We will look at how we are and can be the church in action in God’s world.


The scripture on September 4 was from James 3:11, 3:13-4:3, 4:7-8, titled “Wisdom From Above.”  A lot of wisdom comes from our life experiences. James says some words about true wisdom and finding and using it our lives. Following the wisdom can help us lead fruitful Christian lives.


The next Sunday was September 11.  This Sunday we will remember 9/11 and other events that have shaped our lives for good or ill.  This scripture calls us to remember, especially to remember our living hope. Remember who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.  We go forth into this world guided by his light and filled with His love and grace, to face even the darkest of times.  Remember that darkness does not have the last word.   The Scripture from the New Testament is I Peter 1:1-9.  This sermon actually has two titles.   “What Do we Say of These Things?” and “Remember.”    

                  

The next two Sundays go back to the book of James.  On September 18 the scripture is James 1:17-27.  The sermon is “If You’re Making a List, Check It Twice.” Many people like to make lists.  Lists can help us stay organized and stay on top of thigs we have to do.  Lists also can define what we have to do.  James tells us that we are to be doers of the word and not hearers only.  What does that tell us about how we live a faithful Christian life? What’s on your list? Have you checked it twice?


James 2:1-2, 2:8-9. 2:14-18 is the scripture for September 25.  The title is “If I Only Had a Heart.”  Believing is a matter of having faith.  But is faith alone enough?  That was an issue for the author of the book of James.  James says, “You say you believe, so what???”  Is what we do important to have a saving faith?


The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday.  The scripture for October 2 is I Corinthians 11:17-34.  The sermon is “Table Talk.”  Christians across the globe are gathering at the table.  Today is a very appropriate time for us to ponder two questions.  How does the communion table shape our lives?  How should the communion table shape us?


The overall mission of the church has been constant through the years, but the pressures and factors facing the church have varied.  The circumstances and opportunities facing the church have changed through the ages.  Today our own times and circumstances shape the landscape for “the church.”  We can discover wisdom from the early church and these letters to find wisdom for struggles and opportunities we face today a church that is impactful and faithful.

 

Blessings to All!

Pastor Rick

august 24, 2022

This Sunday completes the first sermon series based on the New Testament letters.  The scripture in from Ephesians.  The title is “Under Construction.”  The term under construction conjures up a variety of images for us.  You may think of construction of a house, a building, or road improvements (usually accompanied by irritating delays.)  


I have been constructing a narrative for the Board of Church extension.  Coolwater is working gradually on paying down the debt on the building to the best of our ability. Our loan is through the Board of Church Extension in Indianapolis, IN. The Board of Church Extension is part of our Disciples denomination and helps congregations with financing loans, among other tasks. For the last 3 years we have benefited from a greatly reduced monthly payment.  


First, we need a little history on this matter.  Three years ago in 2019, Coolwater was in the search process for a new full-time pastor.  In the fall of 2019, we had negotiated with Board of Church Extension for a reduced monthly payment for 3 years to go through October 2022.  The plan was to help Coolwater be able to put more money into the budget to fund a full-time pastor for Coolwater.  With the help and guidance of a full-time pastor, we planned to build up our church membership.  


The search process hit an unexpected obstacle at the end of January 2020 when a candidate for pastor turned out to not be the best fit for Coolwater.  On top of that , the next weekend, Don and Kathy Bryant finished their Interim Ministry with us.  That is when Carole Williams and I stepped in to lead Coolwater “for a short while” until there was a successful conclusion to the search process.  Then in March 2020, covid upended our lives in so many ways, which included our life together at Coolwater.


Now we have emerged from the pandemic to a new day of mission and ministry.  It is about 3 years later and we are working with Board of Church Extension for new terms on the loan.  The Board of Church Extension has asked for information from churches they are working with in these ways.  They want to know what the churches have been doing and what ministry plans they have currently or have sketched out for the future. 


Karen Blue has developed a Year in Review for Coolwater for many years now.  These yearly Reviews offer wonderful information and pictures about our church at work in mission and ministry.  These histories of each year show a church active in many ways, reaching out together as we serve Christ our Lord.  Karen’s creations offer meaningful insights into what Coolwater does and who Coolwater is as an active congregation.  


Karen’s Year in Review presentations are a key piece of what we are sending to the Board of Church Extension about Coolwater.  I have been constructing a narrative to give more information to go along with the Years in Review.  As I looked through the Reviews and composed the narrative, I felt great gratitude once again to be a part of Coolwater.  


I saw a church that constructed a path through a pandemic.  I saw a congregation construct ways to stay in contact and address needs around us to the best of our ability under dire circumstances.  I saw a church construct a new worship format and way of presenting worship to keep offering our prayers and praises to God.  I saw a church construct new ways of engaging in ministry as we adapted to the current circumstances.  


The New Testament gives numerous “building” illustrations.  Building up one another.  Building up the household of God.  Building a house on solid rock. There is much we have built together at Coolwater and much that we will build together in our future.  We continue to be Christians and a church “under construction.”

 

 

 

Blessings to All!

Rick

august 17, 2022

As Christian people, we must intentionally live in God’s presence, paying attention to what God is doing in our lives.  We do that through whatever spiritual practices help us experience living our lives in the presence of God.


How important it is to cling closely to the essentials of our faith that draw us close to God!  How important it is to hold fast to those things in our lives that give us life!  Then, when it seems as if the sky is falling, we are able to see beyond the sky and see the hope that Jesus gives.  Instead of our lives crumbling under the load of personal problems, or troubles in the world around us, or being paralyzed by fear, we will be able to hold fast to hope.  Now matter how off-balance our lives become, there is always the center around which we live – and that center is our Lord Jesus.


So perhaps one of the greatest ministries needed within the walls of any church is the ministry of encouragement.  No one survives for very long without the support of others who nurture and care.  Encouragement is a vital ministry, one which is easily given.  Encouragement comes through a warm smile, a pat on the back, a card in the mail, a phone call, a word of praise, or through a promise of prayer. We need others who will cheer us on.


The author of Hebrews offers words of encouragement that we should hear being spoken enthusiastically to Christian people in every time and place.  He says with exuberance in Hebrews 10:22-24, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”


There was a man who kept a little sign on the mirror in his bathroom that he would look at each morning.  The sign read: “Good morning, God.  What are you doing today?  How can I be a part of it?”  So “let us” be a part of what God is doing together!

   

 

 Blessings,

Pastor Rick

august 10, 2022

Recently I have felt like singing a tune from Walt Disney’s first animated classic, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”  The dwarves sing this song as they go to work in the mines. I would alter the words a bit to say: “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to school we go.”  By next week almost all schools in Arizona will have started the new academic year.  For me, the summer seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.  It felt like a short while ago I was counting down the days until school was over for the summer.  Now I have been back with kids in school for a week. 

  

School is a shared experience for us.  We have all been through school in one form or another.  We have memorable experiences - some good, and probably some we do not fondly remember.  We met people who somehow shaped our lives and influenced who we are today.  Few things in life shape us more or for as long as our school experiences do.  Now we may be a part of the lives of people in school who are our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and the children of friends.  


We never really get away from school. We find that we are actually life-time learners.   Most of us now are also part of helping to shape younger lives in some way.  We continue to impact the educational experience, even in ways that may seem small to us.  


All the things I have written about school and our impact on schools and education could apply to the church as well.  We share the church experience and the life of being a follower of Christ.  We have had people who have significantly influenced our Christian lives and who we are as a Christian today.  We continue to have an impact on the lives of others through the church.  Our church experience keeps on-going.  As Christians we are life-time learners.  


Our outreach project for this month is collecting school supplies.  We are especially reaching out to the two Cave Creek District schools that are nearest to Coolwater.  We have a special connection and history with both schools.  Coolwater met at before we moved into our building in May of 2011.  Some of our church members attended Sonoran Trails Middle School, most recently Wes LaDuke.  We are involved with Sonoran Trails also through their school Site Committee and their Community Advisory Committee.


This is an opportunity for Coolwater to give back to places in our history.  Here are some supplies that you may want to acquire and bring with you to church sometime during the month of August.


No. 2 Pencils (preferably Ticonderoga 12 pack), pink eraser packs, washable markers 8 per package, glue sticks (small size), lined notebook paper, package of blank copy paper, highlighters, 3”x5” index cards, 4 pack of dry erase markers 

 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Rick

 

july 20, 2022

 

This Sunday begins a journey through the New Testament Letters.  The series is broadly titled “Wisdom From the New Testament Letters: Being Shaped For Fulfilling Our Mission.”  The “early church” was actually numerous churches that faced a wide array of issues and obstacles depending upon the location of the church.  The overall mission of the church was constant, but the pressures and factors varied.  Today our own times and circumstances shape the landscape for “the church.”  We would do well to glean wisdom from the early church and the letters to those early churches addressing their struggles and opportunities to be impactful and faithful.


I do not know how long the concept of a “Mission Statement” has existed.  One purpose for a mission statement in our times is to iterate, preferably in a short amount of words, what an organization is doing.  Why does this organization exist?  What is its basic purpose?  

The Mission Statement for Coolwater is “Opening our doors for all and sharing the life, love, and hope of Christ.”  In this series we will be exploring how we are being shaped to live out our mission statement and fulfill our mission.  What wisdom do the letters in New Testament offer us as we work as the church in our time and place?


Since I am a teacher, I feel compelled to tell you in advance that there will be a pop quiz this Sunday.  Don’t worry though and definitely do not let that keep you from coming to church.  The chances of the mission statement being very visible are in the neighborhood of 100%.  They might appear in HIGHLY visible places as a reference.  For example, the mission statement might appear on the big screens.

How does Coolwater live out our mission statement?  That part is up to you and me.


Have a great week, I'll see you Sunday!

Pastor Rick