Now What? (4/16/17)

A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Text:  Matthew 28:1-10

For those of us old enough to remember movie spectaculars like The Greatest Show on Earth and The Ten Commandments, Matthew is the Cecil B. DeMille of the gospels. For younger generations, think George Lucas and Star Wars or Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. Only Matthew tells of a great earthquake as an angel of God descends from heaven. This angel, blessed with super powers, rolls back the enormous stone that seals the tomb. And talk about an outfit! His snow-white suit dazzles like lightning. Match that, Superman! Not exactly someone you want to mess with. High drama! Serious spectacle. Academy award worthy special effects. I wonder how some of you young movie makers in the congregation would set up this scene and film it.

Then this superhero angel dude, sitting on that mega stone, the Roman guards knocked unconscious at his feet, has the audacity to say to those two terrified Marys, “Don’t be afraid!” “Oh sure, Gabe. You put on a show like that and we’re not supposed to be afraid.” Shaking like leaves in the early morning breeze, teeth chattering, they back away from the empty tomb and the heavenly hero.

Sorry if this seems over the top. But that’s the problem with looking at a 2000-year old text for the umpteenth time. We’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t really jangle our last nerve in the way it must have for Mary Magdalene and that other Mary. We have to work to slip our feet into their sandals.

Continue reading Now What? (4/16/17)

Note from Pastor Rick (4/13/2017)

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of Holy Week. I hope you are finding time to contemplate the significance of the week in preparing us for Easter. Tonight we will hold our annual soup supper with Communion around the tables, commemorating Maundy Thursday. This will be a simple meal and service for the whole family. Friday, our sanctuary will be open from 12:00 to 3:00 PM for prayer and meditation. We will have available prayers and readings to assist you in your time of reflecting. Due to a scheduling glitch, we have to do the set up for Easter Brunch on Sunday morning. If you can come at 9:00 AM to help (or, if you can, stay afterward to help with clean up) that would be appreciated.

As I contemplate Easter in the crazy context of the world we currently inhabit, I have been thinking about the aftermath of the Resurrection. That is, we come together to celebrate, as well we should, the joy of Easter, when God, in Christ, said a resounding “No” to death and “Yes” to life. If that is our core belief, then how are we to live our lives in a post-Easter world? What difference did it make in the lives of those first women who found the empty tomb, and then all Christ’s followers, confronted with the astounding reality that “He is risen, indeed”? What difference does it make for us? We continue to grow into people who, in the face of every joy and every concern, every triumph and every tragedy, can still say a great “Yes!” to life and to the Giver of Life.

See you Sunday at 10 AM, if not before. There is no better time to invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join us for joyful Worship for the Whole Family and a delicious Easter brunch. We will have child care and an Easter Egg Hunt for little ones. Please remember to bring cut flowers for the flower cross and finger food to share at brunch.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Mission Offering for April: ABSW

Our April Special Mission Offering is for the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW). ABSW is located in Berkeley, and is affiliated denominationally with ABC USA and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and admits students from a variety of denominational traditions. A multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, evangelical, and ecumenical institution, ABSW offers its students resources through the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), the largest partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. ABSW students may take classes at 9 other GTU seminaries and have access to one of the finest theological libraries in the world, a faculty of distinguished scholars, and the resources of UC Berkeley.

Many of our own church’s leaders and prominent members have been associated with ABSW: Pearl Pe’s father, the Rev. U. Than Pe from Burma (now Myanmar), was a visiting scholar for a year.  Rick Mixon is a graduate, as are the late Jim Shepard (CBTS), E.Y. Fung, Dona Smith-Powers and Lynn Hunwick.

Our goal for this offering is $750, which will be used for student financial aid and will be matched by the ABC Home Mission Society.

This Week at First Baptist (4/6/17)

  • CalendarThursday, April 6, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor.
  • Sunday, April 9: Palm/Passion Sunday
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family

    “Passion Amidst Palms.” Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 31:9-16; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 28:14-27:66; Philemon 2:5-11, Rick Mixon, preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Palms –> Passion –> Easter
    We will explore Jesus’ journey from a triumphal entry into the old city through his arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial as a means of preparing ourselves once more for the glory of Easter. We focus especially on Matthew’s (26:14-27:66) account of this “holy week.”
  • Tuesday, April 11, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos
  • Tuesday, April 11, 7:00 PM: Church Council in the Youth Room.
  • Wednesday, April 12, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Eileen Conover’s home, 1075 Space Park Way #217, Mountain View.

Note from Pastor Rick (4/6/2017)

The end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week is fast approaching. Sunday we will join together to celebrate both Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and all the challenging events of the week that followed, culminating in Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial. This is the ancient flow of drama and travail that leads to the joy of Easter. If we take the time to focus, to meditate on this tale of Christ’s passion, perhaps Easter will dawn all the more glorious. In worship, we will continue our practice of dividing the service between Palms and Passion. Both are important as we look toward Easter. Please plan to arrive on time or a little early this week. Not only would it be good discipline for many of us, but will also give you the opportunity to join in the blessing and procession of palms, which will begin on the outside steps of the sanctuary at 10:00 AM

Stay after worship for Adult Spiritual Formation in which we will delve more deeply into Matthew’s version of this great drama that moves from Palm Sunday to Easter. J. S. Bach found enough material in these texts to compose a magnificent 3 hour choral work. Presumably, we will find enough here to fill an hour. Maybe we will even listen to a bit of Bach’s masterpiece.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship for the Whole Family and Adult Spiritual Formation. This would be a great day to bring someone along with you to share joys and challenges of the ancient, familiar story.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick