Practical Advice

Dear CCOV Family,

Did you ever wonder if and when there is a right time to run an intervention in someone’s life?  Do you struggle with the nuances involved in advice or critique giving, or do you feel tempted to tell others what to do?   On Sunday, July 7 we will talk about these often-difficult issues during our 10 AM, around-the-table worship in Hayden Hall as we consider Paul’s words in Galatians 6:1-18.  From my sermon called “Practical Advice,” you will hear how Paul exhorts the Galatians to restore those who have transgressed in a spirit of gentleness, yet you will also hear how Paul calls us not to deceive ourselves.  We will talk about how we sometimes focus on the failings of others but neglect to reflect on (or be aware of) our own sin.  In short, it is not our task to persuade others to believe as we do or to control their lives.  The poet Archibald Macleish once said it best: “Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves.  It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have all the answers for everybody else.”  I look forward to exploring this topic with you during the first Sunday in July! 

Stay Cool!

Pastor Sandi               


“Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.” —Mark 6:6b-8

Many of you have returned to your more northernly locales or are embarking upon your summer vacations.  I wish you a safe summer and much refreshment and eagerly await your fall or winter return!  So here is a question for you: how much baggage are you taking?  Last summer Clint and I challenged ourselves to travel with only a carry-on bag for a three-week trip to Europe, and I’m pleased to report that it can absolutely be done!  Inspired by an article in Conde Nast Magazine, we rolled our clothes densely, packed a few Tide pods so we could do laundry, wore our bulky sneakers on the plane and only packed sandals.  We took no appliances and left our hair to dry naturally, and we stuffed our socks into the carry-on’s corners.  We depended upon the hospitality of hotels and our European friends to supply the rest.  Those little carry-ons rolled neatly along many a cobblestoned street!

In Mark 6:6b-8 Jesus orders his disciples to travel lightly for their commission.  He wants them to have faith and to trust.  If they were dragging along all kinds of baggage, how easy would it have been for them to reach out with healing and kindness to the ones they were ministering to?  Those disciples might have had to exert too much effort in watching their bags, which would be a real distraction from their ministry.  And if they already had all they needed, how would they receive the gifts of those they encountered in their journey?  Sometimes part of others’ healing is when they can give of themselves, so perhaps those who would be offering hospitality to the twelve were in effect participating in their own healing.  So it’s okay, even biblical, to be on the receiving end! 

We often want to be self-sufficient to the extent that we over-pack and over-plan. And sometimes if we pack and plan for every eventuality, we may not be open to what God has for us.  Carrying around a lot of baggage to be self-reliant, be that baggage material or spiritual, sometimes translates to a lack of faith.  Clint often points this out to me: “Where we are going, they will likely have a pharmacy.  You don’t need to take our entire medicine cabinet.”  In short, have faith, trust, and travel lightly.  Be open to what God may have in store.  May your summer be blessed!

Co-Pastor Sandi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Good Boundaries


CCOV is a congregation full of people with servant’s hearts!  Through the years I have seen many you respond so gracefully to needs that come up in our community, our congregation, and in your own families.  Sometimes servers and caregivers get stressed and even burned out.  We talk about service a lot at church, especially because of Jesus’ great example, but what we sometimes do not give enough attention to is setting healthy boundaries.  Believe it or not, Jesus set boundaries and practiced self-care.  We, like Jesus, can take steps to help, but we cannot control how people are going to respond or ensure that they participate in their own healing.  If we exert undue influence and control, we are actually working too hard and may end up enabling folks so that they never break free.  Times certainly arise when we have to set boundaries and limits, say “no,” and practice self-care to keep ourselves fit and healthy.

Remember the Bible story in John 5:1-14 when Jesus asked the invalid if he wanted to be made well?  This man felt sorry for himself and offered excuses for his 38 years of lying ill by the Sheep Gate pool, but ultimately the man responded to Jesus, who asked the man to do something: stand up, take up your mat and walk.  It was up to this man to take responsibility for himself.  Not everyone assumes self-responsibility, and we need to avoid shifting into overdrive when people’s old patterns repeat over and over.  Sometimes, instead of being the rescuer, we just need to trust God with the outcome. 

Jesus practiced self-care and boundary-setting by withdrawing from the crowds who pressed in upon him so that he could have some prayerful alone time with God.  You will notice in the Bible stories that Jesus did not heal everyone; after a while, he just had to retreat and recharge.  One of my favorite seminary professors used to say, “We ought not climb onto every cross.”  All of us must discern our personal calls to service and focus our energies as they are given to us.  And when it gets overwhelming?  You have two pastors at CCOV with whom you can talk, pastors who care for you!  You have wonderful friends in the congregation and elsewhere.  You can ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to state clearly what you need.  We are, after all, yoked to both Jesus and one another, and that makes life’s burdens much easier.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Sandi   

Cleaning House

Dear CCOV Family and Friends,

Here we are almost at the end of Lent, and I find myself wondering, how is this church season going for you?  Did any of you adopt a Lenten discipline this year or adopt Sandi’s “helpful household hint” (and her own 2019 Lenten discipline) of going through closets and donating to charity things no longer used or worn anymore?  I challenged myself to find one article of clothing for each of Lent’s forty days but ended doubling that so far.  I’ve made three trips to Goodwill and will make one more before Easter.  My closets look great and I don’t miss anything!

One of the greatest themes of the Christian life is that we are blessed in order to bless.  We are healed in order to heal.  We are restored in order to restore.  In fact, Jesus’ miracles in the gospels follow this pattern.  The multiplication of the fishes and the loaves made sure everyone ate.  When Jesus’ healed the bleeding woman, he ended her isolation and she was restored to community.  When Jesus opened the eyes of two blind men, they went out and spread the news about him.  When we are gifted with abundance, it is for sharing.  Some even rise to the highest challenge of giving sacrificially.

Two Sundays ago a woman came by the church during early-morning choir practice.  She was in tears and on the way to visit her father, who was suffering from cancer.  She needed gas money.  I was so heartened to see choir members who had cash in their pockets give to her.  One hugged her and comforted her because she too knew what it was like to battle cancer.  What joy it is to belong to such a deeply Christian family marked by generosity!

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday and hearing Pastor Dick preach Part III of his sermon series, “Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, from Lost to Found” (Jonah 3:1-2; Matthew 4:18-22).  The following week I will be in the pulpit for Palm Sunday.  The scripture will be Luke 19:28-40.  In the meantime, prayers for the remainder of a meaningful Lent!  It’s not too late to clean house and give, whatever that may look like for you.


Pastor Sandi

Lent 2019


We find ourselves once again in the church season of Lent.  The UCC Book of Worship defines Lent as “a penitential season of self-examination, prayer, and fasting that precedes the observance of the Triduum (Maundy Thursday evening, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter, which begins on Saturday night)” (Book of Worship, pp. 21-22). Lent is the season in which we reflect on the life, suffering, and death of Jesus, and what his giving of himself on the cross means for our lives. Some follow a Lenten devotional guide. Some participate in intentional prayer and study. Others give up something.  In recent years it has become more popular to do something extra, like offer special service to someone or even give things away.  This year I heard of yet another Lenten practice that follows this vein, which seems to be gaining momentum, at least on Facebook.  That is, some folks are combining Lent with spring cleaning.  The suggestion goes as follows: “Instead of giving up something for Lent this year, why not try the 40-day-40 items challenge?  Each day of Lent, remove one item from your house which you don’t use or wear anymore and place it in a bag.  At the end of Lent, donate these items to a charity shop or to a homeless shelter.  They’ll be shared with those who really need them.”  I rather like this idea.  Sometime we just accumulate too much, and there is so much need in the world.  I look forward to seeing you all on this first Sunday of Lent.  The scripture will be Luke 4:1-13, and we will talk about growing stronger even during the wilderness times of our lives.  See you in church!


Co-Pastor Sandi

Lots of Good Energy!

Dear CCOV Family,

Wasn’t there lots of good energy in worship last Sunday?  I am so grateful that you voted at our annual meeting to give Dr. Dick Wing and I an opportunity to co-pastor for the next few months.  And I heartily hope this will turn into a permanent arrangement.  He certainly brings a lot of new energy to the pulpit!  And wasn’t the music was absolutely spectacular?  We were blessed to get to know yet another FOL (Friend of Larry) as we do the first Sunday of every month.  I’m glad we had such a crowd to hear both Larry Loeber and Lan Qui, who offered his invigorating violin music that celebrated Chinese New Year.  Adding to the crowd and energy were the Boy Scouts from Troop 649.  Each year CCOV UCC looks forward to our joint worship celebration when we get to see and hear these fine young men and their leaders and thank them for all they contribute to the life of our church.

Troop 649’s recent contributions involved coordinating our joint collections of coats for refugees and nonperishable food items.  Clint and I stuffed dozens of coats in our car—all donated by you and Troop 649—and drove them to Tucson on January 27.  We gave them to members of Casa Adobes UCC who are leading the drive there so that no border refugee goes cold.  Casa Adobes UCC will take all collected coats to Catholic Charities, who will ultimately distribute them.   Additionally, there were so many nonperishable food items collected that the Boy Scouts had to call for a truck from St. Mary’s Food Bank to come haul everything away.  Over the past few weeks I kept thinking to myself when I walked into the narthex, which was overflowing with coats and food: This is one thoroughgoing Christian church here!  We have truly heard Jesus’ words from Matthew 25:35-36: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” 

Let us continue living lives marked by such well-directed energy and generosity.  See you Sunday!

Grace and Peace, 

Pastor Sandi 

Happy New Year!

Dear CCOV Family,

I hope you all just celebrated a wonderful Christmas!  On Sunday, January 6, 2019 I am excited for you all to hear Rev. Dr. Dick Wing preach a sermon entitled “Ten Things to Do before You Die” from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2, 6-12.  Pending your approval at our upcoming January 27, 2019 annual meeting, you will get to hear him every other week!  To get to know him better, please take a look at his introduction, which follows.

Happy New Year!

Rev. Sandi 

A Short Autobiographical Introduction by Dr. Richard A Wing

Greetings to all of you members and friends of Congregational Church of the Valley.  I come to join you in an experiment of sharing ministerial leadership with Rev. Sandi Anthony who has served you so well over the last three years.  I begin January 6, 2019.

Shirley and I bought a place in Scottsdale 2 miles from CCOV in 2016. I retired in March of 2017 from First Community Church of Columbus, Ohio after serving there 23 years.  Your church was kind enough to provide me with an office outside our condo, for which my wife is eternally grateful! The “rent” for the office space was to preach when Sandi needed me. I have filled in twice in her absence. 

From October 2017 to the end of 2018, I have served as the interim minister at First Christian Church of Scottsdale, a Disciples of Christ Church.  I grew up in the Disciples of Christ and served churches in Pomona, Long Beach, Woodland Hills, Concord and San Diego. All in California.  In 1994 I was called as the Senior Minister of First Columbus, Ohio, a UCC congregation. I have held dual standing in both denominations since going to Ohio.  My main calling is preaching, spiritual direction and pastoral care. 

The main work of the church today, is to ask these questions:  1. Who are we? (not who were we?) 2. What is God calling us to do now? And 3. Who is our neighbor?  I worked for 10 years with Dr. M. Scott Peck as a leader of Community Building Workshops under his direction.  I most recently completed a 3-year course with Richard Rohr with the School for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico.  I am working with World Neighbors out of Oklahoma City. Currently, World Neighbors has programs aimed at self-sustenance in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

                I am interested in what it means to be a Christian in dialogue with other religious traditions. 

When I say, “I am a Christian,” that DOES NOT eliminate other pathways to the Divine.

                I believe that religion without humor is deadly.

                I don’t think God cares what we believe, but cares where our feet take us in service to the entire human family.

                I don’t believe that God was more available to people in the past as God is available to us right now.

                I believe that our culture is dying for what we lack in silence.

                I believe that the UCC is not an answer church but a journey church. Not a judgment church, but a grace church. And for both of those virtues I am grateful.

                I believe that the first miracle of our Lord turned the water into Red Zinfandel wine. Don’t ask me how I know these things. And let’s share a glass.

                I thank Sandi for inviting me to an adventure. An adventure by its very nature means we don’t know exactly where we are going, but we know that we travel with good people who make all the difference on the journey.  You may contact me at any time now through the church.  You will soon find my calling cards on the narthex table. 

Blessings and thanks,


Dr. Richard A. Wing

Warm Coats

Forty degrees in Philadelphia feels very different from forty degrees in Prescott.  Clint and I were chatting about this yesterday, grateful for the warm coats we brought along with us. It’s probably the humidity and grey skies that make the air feel colder, more biting back east.  We walked to Chinatown for lunch and saw scores of homeless people sleeping on vents in the sidewalks.  My heart went out to them-they feel the cold acutely and have few places to warm up.  When we lived here years ago, our church’s youth group collected warm blankets for them.  It’s terrible to be cold.

Last week I learned that Casa Adobes UCC in Tucson is collecting coats for border refugees.  It gets so cold in the desert at night this time of year.  I wondered if we at CCOV could help and spoke with the church member there coordinating this effort.  He said the collection will go through the end of this month.  They have special need of children’s coats as well as adult sizes small and medium.  Used coats and jackets are fine as long as they are in good condition.  If you have any contributions, please bring them to church this month and give them to either Clint or me, and we will hand deliver them to Casa Adobes UCC at the end of January.  After all, we are to treat these children of God as we would treat Jesus himself.  

I will be preaching on Jesus’ Baptism on this second Sunday of Epiphany.  The scripture is Isaiah 43:1-7 and Luke 3:15-22.  I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Sandi 

Moving Through Advent

Dear CCOV Family,
Only two more Sundays until Christmas! This Advent season is going by so quickly. For those who like to read ahead, I will be preaching this Sunday on Isaiah 12:2-6 and Luke 3:7-18. Continuing in the same vein as last week, I will focus on part 2 of John the Baptist’s message of repentance and change, which prepares our hearts for the babe in the manger. The following Sunday I will preach on Micah 5:1-5a and Luke 1:39-56, and you will hear all about Mary’s Magnificat, which is actually a fairly subversive utterance. As usual, we will have a beautiful Christmas Eve service with an outstanding soloist, Ivana Martinic.

On Sunday, January 6, 2019 Rev. Dr. Dick Wing will be preaching. His scripture will be Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 6-12 and his sermon title will be “Ten Things to do Before You Die.” Don’t miss hearing the first sermon of the new year given by an energetic and fun-loving preacher! I want to correct one thing I told you about him in November. His large church in Ohio was UCC, not Disciples of Christ. He served First Community Church of Columbus, Ohio for 23 years and retired from there in March of 2017. I am sure we will enjoy all the gifts he will bring to our setting. You will get to read more about him in our next newsletter as he has prepared a short autobiographical statement for us.

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday. It’s exciting to welcome back our winter members who are trickling in! For those who won’t be with us this season, be assured of our prayers.
With Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love,
Rev. Sandi

First Sunday of Advent: Hope

Dear CCOV Family,
Here it is Advent already, the beginning of the Christian liturgical year! The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” Over the next four weeks, you will hear the motifs of expectation, pregnancy, and living in the tension of “times in between” running throughout our Advent worship at CCOV. For those who like to read ahead, I will be preaching this Sunday on Jeremiah 33:14-16, which recounts the hope-filled prophecy that a “righteous Branch will spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This is good news for all of creation, which needs hope in every generation.

One way you can continue to bring hope into people’s lives is to give to the Veteran’s of the Cross Christmas Fund, which is one of our two Christmas mission projects this year. You will find envelopes in the pews. This UCC-wide fund benefits retired clergy and church staff who find themselves in times of need. Our other mission project is to continue giving to disaster relief through the UCC website.

I look forward to a meaningful Advent season with you!
With Hope, Peace, Joy and Love,
Rev. Sandi