Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Endless Forms Most Beautiful
A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, February 11, 2018

Text: Mark 9:2-10
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. Continue reading Endless Forms Most Beautiful

With Authority

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, January 28, 2018

Text: Mark 1:21-28
21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Continue reading With Authority

Can you hear me now?

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, January 14, 2018

Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-11
1Now the boy Samuel was ministering to God under Eli. The word of God was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of God, where the ark of the Holy One was. 4Then God called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So, he went and lay down.6God called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know God, and the word of God had not yet been revealed to him. 8God called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that God was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if the Voice calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Holy One, for your servant is listening.’” So, Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10Now God came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Continue reading Can you hear me now?

What can I give him?

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, January 7, 2018

Text: Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)

“What can I give him, poor as I am?” Christina Rosetti penned these words more than a hundred years ago, and still the question seems timeless. What can I give him? What can you give him – Jesus Christ, Child of God, Maker of Heaven and Earth? Talk about the classic dilemma of what to give someone who has everything!

During other seasons, we frequently sing, as our Song of Response to the Giving of our Gifts,

We give thee but thine own,
whate’er the gift may be;
all that we have is thine alone,
a trust, O God, from thee.

We sing this partly because I believe it to be true. Jesus, himself, championed what is known as the debt code over against the more prevalent purity code practiced by most Jews in his day. It is an argument that, because all that is, including life itself, was created by God and shared with us by God’s grace, we are eternally indebted to God for everything. There are no hierarchies in the mind of God. None of us is better than another. None of us has a birthright to the privilege we hold. “It is God who has made us and not we ourselves. We are God’s people and the sheep of God’s pasture (Psalm 100:3). Our indebtedness to the Creator is a great leveler – we are all, each and every one of us, sheep of God’s pasture. No claims of purity, righteousness, class, race, nationality, gender, age, ability, intellect, power or privilege make us superior to another. God loves us everyone equally, without favoritism. Continue reading What can I give him?

Make Christmas Great Again

A sermon preached by Gregory Stevens on Sunday, 31 December 2018 at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto. Text: Luke 2:25-40

It breaks my heart when our culture celebrates Christmas. They have made our holiday into a consumer market for capitalist exploitation. Gifts, shopping, more gifts, feasting, shopping, gifts…buy buy buy your way to happiness! Shop till you drop!

Oddly enough the sorrow and pain I feel for our country and my own families addiction to consumer Christmas, is fitting with the actual Christian holiday we find ourselves in during those months. As I’ve been exploring with our youth, Advent makes up the four Sunday’s leading up to Christmas as a yearning and desire for something more. As the days get shorter, and colder and we cuddle around our fires hoping for the Sun to brighten our days once again with warmth and blossoming-life; we also might see how our world too is drowning in injustice and the need for transformation is dire. Through Advent we hope and long for the Christ to redeem our cold dreary situation. Continue reading Make Christmas Great Again

Oh, Mary! (Sermon)

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, December 24, 2017

Text: Luke 1:26-55

A Contemporary Word Encountering Angels Morton Kelsey, The Drama of Christmas
Most of us think we might like to have an encounter with a friendly angel. We forget that any such encounter strikes humans with a combination of awe, wonder, and terror. An experience of a real angel would be like looking over the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time and seeing below us the ageless rocks laid out in a vast panorama; we would feel insignificant, a mere fragment of both space and time. An angel – an awesome, mysterious, numinous reality – would give us a feeling of the ineffable Holy, and we would need to be reminded in any such encounter that we have nothing to fear. The Holy not only gives humans an overwhelming sense of being loved but also makes demands on them just by appearing to them. I knew one man who started a practice of praying and keeping a journal and was making great progress, and then he stopped; he told me he had seen some light, and he didn’t like it.

A Contemporary Word Christmas Traffic U. A. Fanthorpe, Consequences
Three, two, one, liftoff
Signals mission Control. And off they go
To the dark parts of the planets
In their pressurized spacesuits,
Cocooned in technology, the astronauts.

Mission control whispers in someone’s ear.
Yes, she says, I will. And in due time
A different traveler makes a quieter journey,
Arriving hungry, naked, but true to instructions,
Docking on Earth, taking one small step. Continue reading Oh, Mary! (Sermon)

Rejoice – Really?

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, December 17, 2017

Text: Psalm 126; Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

When I was growing up, it was a family tradition to have daily devotions around the breakfast table. Though this may evoke a scene from Norman Rockwell, it seldom was that serene. In the early morning bustle of feeding four kids and getting them off to school there was frequently just a little bit of stress. Sometimes those daily devotions felt like a burden. The source of those devotions was “The Secret Place,” which is a daily digest of biblical and spiritual reflection and prayer still produced by our denomination. We get a few copies every quarter and make them available to our community. You can find the latest edition in the church entryway. I’m sure our family used that resource both because it was from our denomination and because my father occasionally wrote for it.

On one particularly disoriented morning, more than one of us had gotten up on the proverbial “wrong side of the bed.” Maybe it was a day when no one really wanted to go to school – either the weather was too bad or too nice. Maybe it was one of those Saturdays when there were a multitude of chores to be done before we could play. Maybe it was the stress of a holiday season. Maybe there was sibling rivalry. Maybe my father had scorched the oatmeal. Whatever the reasons, we were out of sorts. Norman Rockwell would have found nothing idyllic to paint that particular morning as we gathered, grumbling, around the breakfast table for our daily devotions. Clearly, we needed a little attitude adjustment, but we weren’t having it. Continue reading Rejoice – Really?