Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One Church, Many Voices

Presbyterians Today has launched a new blog. According to their announcement, "This exciting new forum is a place that welcomes Presbyterians of all stripes to share their ideas and their passions—all aimed at shining a light on the path to become better disciples of Jesus Christ." Check it out at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Come Pray with Us

To each and every one in our congregation:

You are invited to join us on Tuesday mornings each week at 9:00 am in the Clarke Annex.  Please come and join us as we pray for those that are in special need of Christ's help.  "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there also."

~Prayer Partners

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Driving Alternatives for Seniors

Did you know that the Uber and Lyft ride services are now available in the greater Phoenix area, including Sun City? For more information about how they work and why they may be good alternatives to driving yourself, visit this article on NextAvenue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tell Us What You Think!

The Congregational Care and Outreach Commission is in charge of many of the church’s programs and special events, and they need your feedback to help with their planning for this fall. Please print and fill out this questionnaire—or complete the email version that will be sent out shortly—and return it to the church office.

We are considering screening Christian-themed movies (like last year’s showing of God is not Dead) on a regular basis. These would be films with a religious orientation rather than popular secular films.

Would you be interested in viewing Christian movies in Swain Hall?
o Yes o No

If yes, what days of the week and times would work for you?
o Monday o Tuesday o Wednesday o Thursday
o Mornings o Afternoons

Would you prefer to have refreshments served?
o Yes o No o Don’t care

If yes, what type of food/drink would you like to see available?
o Water, iced tea, popcorn          o Coffee and donuts or pastry

Any other comments?

Tai Chi Lessons
Tai chi is a gentle form of exercise that focuses on increasing strength and flexibility. During the summer of 2014, SCAN Health sponsored well-attended free tai chi lessons at our church. SCAN Health no longer has a sponsorship available, but we may be able to offer weekly classes again for a fee.

Would you like to take easy beginning tai chi lessons at the church?
o Yes o No

If yes, what would you be willing to pay per lesson?
o $10   o $5   o Can’t pay   o Other:

What days of the week and times would work for you?
o Monday o Tuesday o Wednesday o Thursday
o Mornings o Afternoons

Any other comments?

Thank you for your input!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

"The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Choir Practice Starts Next Week

If you love to sing, please consider joining our choir!  You don't have to have a perfect voice, or even be able to read music; if you can follow a tune by ear, we'll be happy to have you.  It's all about joyfully praising God.

The choir rehearses on Wednesday evenings starting at 6:30 pm in the choir (Westminster) Room.  The first practice is September 23; our first performance this fall will be Sunday, October 4.

To learn about our choir director, Bill Gleason, and our accompanist, Kelsey McKee, visit our website and click on Programs -> Music Program.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Presbyterian Seal

According to Merriam-Webster, a logo is “a symbol that is used to identify a company and that appears on its products.” In the past, logos explicitly identified the entities to which they belonged, such as the Arm & Hammer baking soda logo, which featured both the company name in type and a picture of a muscular arm brandishing a hammer. Modern logos tend to be more abstract, like the Nike swoosh. Some graphic designers, however, still try to pack as much meaning as possible into a logo design, and that’s apparently what Malcolm Grear and Associates were doing in 1985 when they developed the logo we see on the front of the pulpit every Sunday — the seal of the Presbyterian Church.

Here’s what the website for the Office of the General Assembly has to say about the seal design:
The seal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a symbolic statement of the church's heritage, identity, and mission in contemporary form….

The basic symbols in the seal are the cross, Scripture, the dove, and flames. The dominant structural and theological element in the design is the cross — the universal and most ecumenical symbol of the Christian church. The cross represents the incarnate love of God in Jesus Christ and his passion and resurrection. Because of its association with Presbyterian history, the Celtic cross was chosen as a model for this contemporary rendering of the ancient symbol.

In experimenting with the basic lines and shapes of the cross, the contour of a book began to emerge in the horizontal section, and the two center lines of the cross became the representation of an open book. This integration of the horizontal dimensions of the cross with the book motif highlights the emphasis which the Reformed tradition has placed on the role of Scripture as a means of knowing God's word.

The slightly-flared shape of the Celtic cross also makes possible the trans-forming of the uppermost section into the shape of a descending dove. As a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the dove is intimately tied to the representation of the Bible, affirming the role of the Spirit in both inspiring and interpreting Scripture in the life of the church. The dove also symbolizes Christ's baptism by John and the peace and wholeness which his death and resurrection bring to a broken world.

Beneath the image of the book is the suggestion of a lectern or pulpit, which captures the important role of preaching in the history of Presbyterian worship.

Integrated into the lower part of the design are flames which form an implied triangle, a traditional symbol of the Trinity. The flames themselves convey a double meaning: a symbol of revelation in the Old Testament when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and a suggestion of the beginning of the Christian church when Christ manifested himself to his apostles at Pentecost and charged them to be messengers of the good news of God's love.
The triangle also suggests the nature of Presbyterian government, with its concern for balance and order, dividing authority between ministers of the Word and laypersons and between different governing bodies. This understanding of the church was based in part on an important idea in Reformed theology, the covenant, which God establishes with people to affirm God's enduring love and to call us to faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Looking more closely at some of the visual components of the design, viewers may discover elements that seem to fuse with some of the more obvious theological symbols. In the shape of the descending dove, for example, one might also discern in the body of the bird, the form of a fish, an early-Christian sign for Christ, recalling his ministry to those who hunger. For some, the overall design evokes the calligraphy of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Others have seen a baptismal font or a communion chalice (cup).

In 1 Corinthians, Paul described the church as a body with many members, illustrating the pluralism of the church and the many gifts which God gives to its members. So also the seal's individual parts, when taken together, form an encompassing visual and symbolic unity, while not exhausting the richness of possible interpretations….

Each congregation and governing body may use the seal without receiving prior permission. (From
Some commentators have also seen the overall shape of the design as an angel, a minister, or the embracing figure of Jesus.

The design of the Presbyterian seal, then, is full of symbolism that reflects the rich history of our church. The next time you are seated in the Sanctuary, take a look at the seal on the banner that hangs on the front of the pulpit. What do you see there?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher." ~Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back to School 2016

Thank you to everyone who purchased school supplies and to the very generous members who made contributions for a total of $477.00 to be used to purchase supplies. Fifty-seven backpacks plus numerous other supplies have been purchased. The supplies were delivered to El Mirage Elementary School on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Marge Hagerman and Gail Bickel.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Choosing Joy

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

In the ancient world, what people thought, what people said, what people did followed predictable patterns. More than simple habit behavior and attitudes became daily ritual. Blessings, prayers of thanksgiving, petitions to God were reduced to the kinds of statements one finds on bumper stickers these days.

Here’s how that worked. A person didn’t need to sit and pray for hours and hours. A person could simply say something like the sentences above while they were walking, doing housework, preparing a meal, working in the field. You could express communion and realize connection through the easiest and most commonplace activities in one’s day.

And the benefit was more than the feeling that one was doing what one ought to be doing. The benefit was the positive physical and mental impact of these seemingly simple exercises. Neuroscience has demonstrated the effect positive thinking has on the brain’s and body’s chemistry. Positive thoughts, positive feelings, positive beliefs release the kinds of hormones associated with joyfulness, happiness, peacefulness. The chemistry coursing through your bloodstream literally takes a turn for the better when you think positive thoughts.

This is true of course if you believe that something like joyfulness is preferred over anger or fearfulness. The body’s chemistry is equally affected by negative thoughts and the difference is measurable.

The people of the ancient world did not know anything about neuroscience. They just knew that happy thoughts were better for them than negative ones so they invented a way to practice joyfulness.

Today, we’re tempted to believe we’re living in the most cynical and depressing days of all. That’s true if we don’t have some kind of antidote. Here’s what I suggest. Turn off cable news. Start listening to the voice of the one who made the heavens and the earth. Start each day by answering this question:

What one thing could I do—think—believe—today, no matter how small, that would increase my joy?

Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Thanks be to God!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Latest from the Library

Did you know that we have 1628 books in our library as of the end of June? We have added 15 more books during July and August. This is truly an astounding little library.

I just finished reading The Testament by John Grisham. It came out in 1999 and is one of the few of his books that I had not yet read. If you haven't read it, it is a thriller and takes you into the swamps and jungles of Brazil amid primitive Indian tribes. I read it in a day and a half because I couldn't put it down.

I am also reading Edgar Cayce on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is the famous clairvoyant who predicted where the scrolls would be found 11 years before they actually were. He was a deeply religious man, thus most of his over 2500 Life Readings are steeped in religious history. It too is an absolutely fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

If you are anything like me, in these troubled times of controversy and fear of Islam and Muslims in general, you might want to read Islam Revealed – A Christian Arab's View of Islam by Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh. It is an eye opener and offers some real insight into not only the differences but also the sameness in all those, regardless of religion, who truly follow the precepts of peace and love.

Peace and Love to all of you from your happily engrossed Librarian,
Carol Maxwell