Summer is here! Summer is here!

tripp-mandolinFriends of God,

Summer is here! Summer is here! Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. It’s official. You may now wear your summer togs. Now, I know this seems a strange thing to say in California where it may well be possible to wear your
summer togs all year long except in the summer months when the marine layer rolls in and the coldest winter we’ll spend is summer in San Francisco. Fortunately, we’re a little south of The City and can enjoy the heat. I hope you all have some summer fun planned!

My summer has shaped up to be a full one. I know some of you have heard. I’ll be in and out some this summer teaching and delivering a paper (the woes of Ph.D. studenthood). One of our seminary interns, Naomi Schulz, will be filling in for me while I am away a couple of weeks in June and the first weekend of August. She is a talented pastor and will be a great addition to our community this fall. This will be your chance to get to know her ahead of time and show her some of our awesome hospitality.

There’s lots going on this summer!

  • Friday, June 14 – Pot Luck Cook-out!
  • Sunday, July 7 – All-Church Cook-out and Celebration!
  • Friday, August 16, – Pot Luck Cook-out!

More events are in the works. We’re contemplating a baseball game. There are many summer camps with room left as well. If you would like to attend summer camp, please let me know. We can help you with a scholarship.

The summer is a great time for family, friends, and (it would seem) cook-outs. We hope you will join us in times of fellowship.

Peace and All Good Things,
Pastor Tripp

June is bustin’ out all over

13-06-01.mixon.fw“June is bustin’ out all over.” In the midst of a heat wave, windows are open to catch any little breeze, everything is green and blooming, allergies are operating full throttle, and we’ve entered, post Pentecost, that long, lazy season in the liturgical life of the church called Ordinary Time. Ordinary though it may be, we still have some excitement on the horizon. The first Sunday of this month we will be privileged by the presence of Cathleen Falsani, sharing with us some mutual experiences of grace. “Story = Grace” is our theme. This is the culmination of a month‐long study of her excellent book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace. I commend it you as ideal summer reading. One of the key things Cathleen says in her book is this: “Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve. Benign goodwill. Unprovoked compassion. The unearnable gift.”

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound…” Indeed, it is a sweet sound, sometimes a sound too sweet for our very pragmatic understanding. We all know that salvation can’t be earned but do we really believe it? Do we grasp how thoroughly God loves and accepts us with whatever our limitations and failures? It’s often a struggle to let grace enfold us, to feel its warmth, to bask in its light, to let its healing wash over us, making us whole. So we fail to see that amazing grace is around and within us in the simplest beauties and wonders of daily life – the tree, the flower, the breeze that blows, the stream that flows, the warm smile, the helping hand, the love that forms and sustains friendship and builds community.

Later this month, I will represent us at the inaugural session of a new phase in American Baptist life. The biennial meeting will no longer be a business meeting for the denomination. It is now called a Mission Summit and is designed to inspire
and build up the missional life of the ABC‐USA. This is an interesting experiment in a way to do church at a denominational level that will enable all American Baptists to work together in the service of God. I am very pleased
that Don Ng, the distinguished pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco, is the nominee for President of the ABC‐USA and is taking a key leadership role in this effort at denominational transformation. Don is an old friend whose vision and judgment I trust deeply.

It is interesting that this Mission Summit (and the next, in 2015) will be held in Overland Park, Kansas, a place where I lived from 1950 to 1953. Some of my earliest memories are of those days when my father was the founding pastor of Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. So, this represents a kind of homecoming for me. I hope to attend that church on Sunday morning of the Biennial. In addition, I will attend the pre‐biennial theology conference at Central Baptist Seminary (the school from which my father earned 3 degrees,) led by our friend, Jennifer Davidson, from ABSW. Then I will stay for the board meetings of the Association of Welcoming Baptists. It will be a full and, I trust, rich week. Wally Bryen will preach on June 23 in my absence.

What else can we say about June? There will be an intergenerational cookout and time for volleyball and visiting on Friday, June 14, in honor of Father’s Day. The church choir will end its season on June 16. Adult Spiritual Formation for
June will include our Sunday with Cathleen Falsani; a follow‐up on our Sunday with her and our study of her book on June 9; some reflection on The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love You Need by Gerald May, one of the books from my spiritual direction program; and a last go for the season at “The Newspaper in One Hand…an occasional discussion of what’s happening in the world in light of the gospel.”

And there will be singing. Jan reminds us that The Bay Choral Guild, the group with which she sings will be performing in our sanctuary on Sunday, June 9 at 4:30 PM. The concert is entitled “Our American Heritageʺ and will feature music
from colonial days to the present. You won’t want to miss the wonderful opportunity right here in our building. And if you’re feeling a little more adventuresome, The Choral Project, the group in which Dan Cudworth, Ruth Winter (who is helping us out in the church choir through June) and I all sing will be presenting concerts in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz on June 8 and 9. Our concerts, entitled “Earthsongs” will cover a cross section of music from the classical to world music to pop music. It will be a fun event as well. More detailed information is available for both groups is available elsewhere in the  June Spire.

Which brings us back to grace. For me there is no more open door to grace than in the experience of music – heard and performed. I thank God for all the amazing music that has graced my life and, I hope, yours as well. May our lives flow on in endless song and may the God of grace author the music of all our days.

Pastor Rick

“Story = Grace”

13-05-22.pentecost_banner.fwSunday we spent the morning with the Trinity and with grace.  The children and youth decorated the hallway with their artistic comments on the Trinity as we wrestled with it in worship.  God in relationship inspires our efforts to be in relationship – not only with God but also with one another as children of God.  At the end of the service we all gathered back in the sanctuary to celebrate Jane and Jin Chin for the wonderful work they as do as volunteers for FBCPA.  We are deeply grateful for the way they look after our finances, provide a photographic record of our “family” and otherwise keep track of our life together – past, present and future!  If you didn’t get to see the “Chin picture board” Oleta made, we will have it again Sunday.

This coming Sunday we are privileged and delighted to have Cathleen Falsani share the morning with us.  We have been reading and discussing Cathleen’s beautiful book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace, the past three weeks in Adult Spiritual Formation.  Now we have the opportunity to engage her in person.  She will be featured in an intergenerational worship service on the theme “Story = Grace” and will lead the conversation in Adult Spiritual Formation.  This is a rare opportunity for us to engage a significant and talented Christian thinker and writer.  I hope you all will make a point of being here and will bring along others to share the experience with you.  See you Sunday at 10.

May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.
Pastor Rick

Thanks from the Chins

Dear Church Family,

Jin and Jane Chin
Jin and Jane Chin

It was a great surprise to us to receive so much attention at the end of the service today, May 26, 2013! To receive your thank you litany with so many gracious comments and your generous gift of a digital picture frame to make it easy to share our life with others, we are indeed grateful. On top of that, we enjoyed a cake decorated especially for us, as we also remember many others on this Memorial Day weekend. Thank you also for the many kind comments in your card. We know that many of you in Congregational Life and others worked hard behind the scenes in the planning, writing, compiling pictures, printing, buying the gift, getting the cake and all the other little details needed for this event. Our sincere thanks to each for your special efforts and also for being present for us.

Some of you such as the Hunwicks we have known since 1960 when Lynn visited us when we first arrived in Palo Alto and he invited us to join the Hearthstone group at the church. Others we have known more recently. We are a diversified group. Some have stronger opinions than others, but we try to respect and accept each other. We do have a deep compassion and concern for each other as we personally are moving through different phases of our life together. We currently have some good and faithful volunteers in various aspects of our church life. But some of us are now slowing down and do welcome more volunteers willing to help or share with some of the tasks that need to be done for the church.

We are both happy to be a part of this loving and understanding church family as we experiment and explore what might work for us as a church now and in the days to come.

Thank you very much for this memorable recognition time,

Jin and Jane

A “spirited” Pentecost

13-05-22.pentecost_banner.fwWe had a “spirited” day last Sunday as we celebrated Pentecost.  Thanks to everyone who helped make the service “go” and to all those who attended for their flexibility.  We are still experimenting with what makes for meaningful worship for our cross-section of folk, including our children and youth.  Maybe we will always be experimenting to some degree as the Spirit continues to “blow where it wills.”   It’s great to have a community of people who are willing to go along on this journey, especially when it takes us out of our comfort zones.  It is delight to have colleagues like Tripp and Jan and Oleta as journey partners in planning and executing what it is for us to be a worshiping community.

In Adult Spiritual Formation, our consideration of Cathleen Falsani’s book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace is going quite well, with some spirited sharing and discussion.  We will continue the conversation this week and then on June 2, we will be privileged to have Cathleen with us for worship and Adult Spiritual Formation.

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday.  In worship we will focus on God, the “three-in-one.”  The ancient concept of the Trinity is really not mentioned in the Bible per se, though we see signs of it in the different faces of God that are shown.  It is a very human construct trying to make sense of the complexity of God, which is ultimately beyond our grasp.  What it does show us, though, in a significant way, is the relational nature of God.  It says something about the need for us to be in relationship with one another, as well as with God, in the practice of our faith.  So, invite a family member, a friend or neighbor, colleague or stranger to come along for our celebration of the Trinity as well as our exploration of grace.  See you Sunday at 10.

May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.

Pastor Rick


Got an inferiority complex?

Here is a link to a post at the blog over at Sojourners. Concerning “The Christian Inferiority Complex,” Stephen Mattson writes:

The church’s failure over the last few years, decades, centuries, and millenniums has resulted in a current generation of Christians that are constantly apologizing, denying, overcompensating, and self-criticizing. But there is hope.