Note from Pastor Rick (4/26/2017)

A bad head cold is not the way to celebrate the Easter season. We had a great day on Easter Sunday (and another good day last Sunday, with Pastor Gregory preaching on resurrection,) but I woke up from my Easter Sunday nap with a sore throat and went downhill from there. I am now on the mend, enough that I will be leaving tomorrow for Raleigh, NC, where I will attend the annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists. This is the 30th anniversary of the organization. The theme is “Embracing God’s Call to Love and Justice.” Speakers will include William Barber, head of the NC NAACP and organizer of Moral Mondays, Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Naomi, and the Baptist Archbishop from the Republic of Georgia. It promises to be a great occasion. I am looking forward to connecting with old friends and colleagues, including Daniel Pryfogle and his wife, Chris, while I’m there.

This week at FBCPA, we welcome Geoff Browning, campus minister for United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford. UCCM is a mission of our congregation. Pastor Gregory currently serves on their board. Geoff will preach on “Our Kairos Moment” (Leviticus 25:8-17and Luke 4:16-30) and lead Adult Spiritual Formation with an update on the work of UCCM.

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to support Geoff and the good work of UCCM. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in worship, education, and sharing.  See you next week.

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

Pastor Rick   

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   

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   

Resurrection and Life (4/2/17)

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Text:  John 11:1-45 (The Message)

One more long and complex tale from the writer of John. As with the others we have covered in this Lenten season, we could spend several weeks trying to unpack this story and still not come to any definite conclusions about the many difficult questions it raises. What thoughts and feelings come up for you as you’ve heard this old, familiar story read one more time?

I already vented, in this week’s Midweek Message, my frustration with Jesus choosing to delay going to the home of his dear friends when one of them was sick and dying. This is not the way friends ought to treat friends, is it? From my very human perspective, it doesn’t seem to serve God’s glory for Jesus to increase the suffering of his friends by his absence. But nearly every commentator gives some well-argued explanation for Jesus’ delay. There is also powerful good news in this challenging story.

Continue reading Resurrection and Life (4/2/17)

Note from Pastor Rick (3/24/2017)

My apologies for a late midweek this week. I have a friend visiting from China and have been showing him some of the sights. Fortunately, we have had a couple of lovely days for exploring.

This week takes us further into John’s gospel as we consider what I like to call “The Trial of One Born Blind.” It is another of those long, complicated stories that the writer of John tells to give us insight into both Jesus’ ministry and his teaching. The miracles mean something and it is the meaning that seems much more important to Jesus than the acts themselves. Even after 2000 years, are we any more likely than the first disciples not only to see Jesus’ signs but also to grasp their significance for his project of building up God’s Beloved Community? Though a poor, blind beggar, John’s witness comes off with more understanding and cleverness than the religious experts who interrogate him. Would that we might have such a clear view of Jesus and what he was about.

In Adult Spiritual Formation, I am delighted that our guest will be Lisa Olson, the Development Director for the “10 Books a Home” program. If you remember, this year ’special offering for January, sponsored by our kids, was for this organization. We are eager to have Lisa share more with us about the program’s structure and goals as well as its volunteer opportunities. Everyone is invited to come hear more about, “10 Books a Home.”

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

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

Note from Pastor Rick (3/15/2017)

As we  move further into this Lenten season, along with Jesus, we encounter the Samaritan Woman at the Well. Hers is one of the richly developed stories in John’s gospel through which the writer lays out his view of Jesus’ ministry. Especially important in this meeting is the significant breaking down of barriers. In the most improbable of encounters, we find Jesus talking not only to a woman but to a Samaritan. Boundaries of gender and race, of politics and culture are crossed as he shares with her deep insights into eternal life (John’s image for God’s Beloved Community.) The disciples are astonished but the people of Sychar come quickly to see him as the “Savior of the World.”

In Adult Spiritual Formation last Sunday, we will continue our exploration of some of the most challenging of Jesus’ Parables. This week we will focus on “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31), “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant,” Matthew 18:23-35, and “The Parable of the Talents,” Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27. This study has led to some fascinating discovery and very spirited conversation. Everyone is invited to share this exploration. You won’t find it difficult to “plug in.”

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

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

Pastor Rick