Putting the Protest Back in Protestant

Putting the Protest Back in Protestant
A sermon preached by
Gregory Stevens
First Baptist Church of Palo Alto
Sunday, 29 October 2017
Text: Romans 1:16-17

The year was 1517, Martin Luther wrote a scathing 95 Theses attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practices. Much like today, money and capital had infused themselves into the institutional church, they were trying to sell tickets to heaven, literal “get out of hell free cards” to absolve sins – in religious speech: indulgences. For Luther, the religious trappings of the day had become far removed from the Biblical stories so central to their faith, he also knew that it wasn’t up to any institution to set you right with God, but it was up to you and me – each and every one of us.

Luther’s timing couldn’t have been better. Just a few decades before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, which made it possible to spread information to mass amounts of people like never before. Continue reading Putting the Protest Back in Protestant

Always Thankful

ALWAYS THANKFUL
A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, October 22, 2017

Text: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (J. B. Phillips)

Jesus never went to church. Of course, that is primarily because churches didn’t exist in those days, nor, though he himself was the Christ, was he ever a Christian. Luke’s gospel tells us that, in the beginning, at least, “he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom” (Luke 4:16.) I guess that’s sort of like going to church. But we also note that that traditional congregation was so outraged by his proclamation that they ran him out of town, threatening to throw him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-29). So much for being a good, synagogue-going young man. He had learned his lessons so poorly, or so well, that they didn’t want to hear what he had to say or have anything to do with him. Continue reading Always Thankful

Praying With the People

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • For the family and friends as well as our church family as we grieve the death of Lynn Hunwick
  • For all those affected by and trying to rebuild after fire, hurricane, earthquake and flood
  • For Charlotte Jackson recovering from hip surgery at home
  • For Marylea McLean who is recovering at home from cancer surgery
  • For Andy Kille facing complex treatment for cancer
  • Pastor Rick for the family and friends of David Bartlett and Larry Kent Graham, both of whom died recently
  • Carolyn Shepard for Barba and Ray Hing who moved to San Jose; and for Soo Kim and Doug Lee in South Korea
  • For our church in this time of turmoil with City permitting
  • For the American Baptist Board of International Ministries, it’s staff, our missionaries and families – especially Dan and Sharon Buttry, Dan and Sarah Chetti
  • For Sarah Nash and House of Hope in Bolivia; and Ramesh Kumar and Balasore Technical School
  • For our Evergreen Region as we day good-bye to our founding Executive Minister Marcia Patton, after 14 years of faithful service and welcome our new Executive Minister, Douglas Avilesbernal and he takes on the work in January
  • For God’s guidance and empowerment as we move forward the Mosaic South Bay

Praying With the People

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • For the family and friends as well as our church family as we grieve the death of Lynn Hunwick last Saturday
  • For all those affected by the devastating wildfires throughout California, especially in Napa and Sonoma Counties
  • For Charlotte Jackson recovering from hip surgery at Vi in Palo Alto
  • For Marylea McLean who is recovering at home from cancer surgery
  • For Andy Kille facing complex treatment for cancer
  • Pastor Rick for the family and friends of David Bartlett who died last week
  • Carolyn Shepard for her family in Nicaragua hit with heavy rains and for the people of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and all those places affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, and Nate
  • For our church in this time of turmoil with City permitting
  • For the American Baptist Board of International Ministries, it’s staff, our missionaries and families – especially Dan and Sharon Buttry, Dan and Sarah Chetti
  • For Sarah Nash and House of Hope in Bolivia; and Ramesh Kumar and Balasore Technical School
  • For our Evergreen Region in this time of discernment and transition

God Changes

Trigger Warning: I want to begin this sermon differently than I have in the past when I’ve told these stories. Rather than tell you a crazy story in hopes of jostling your emotions, then wrapping a bow at the end of the sermon like a 30min family sitcom, I’d rather give you a trigger warning. I’m going to talk some about suicide and that might draw up some strange and uncomfortable memories and feelings. Please feel free to get up and move around, the walk out and take a breather, or to openly cry with us all. Either way this is a safe space, you will not be judged and you are welcome, loved, and graced by God no matter who or what you’ve done and matter what you do in the future: God is love and Love always has your back.

From my previous sermons and from our times together, many of you know that when I was growing up my sister Carolyn took her own life in a desperate attempt to escape the pain of being queer, poor, and young, unable to see the possibilities of escape before her.

It was devastating. It changed my family life and it changed the way I thought about God, religion, and spirituality – as crisis events tend to do.

The crisis of suicide hits home for me. It has been entry point into spirituality in my faith journey.

Continue reading God Changes

Praying With the People

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • Birthday joys for Jin Chin (October 15)
  • Paul Berry brought greetings from the Syversons whom they recently visited in Falmouth, MA
  • Lynn Hunwick for a visit from Ramesh Kumar in honor of Marilyn
  • Lois Ville remembering her mother, Vivian, who would have celebrated her 114th birthday last week, with beautiful flowers in the sanctuary
  • For Minister Sydney Webster who unanimously passed her Ordination Council last night at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland and for the good work of the PCBA/Evergreen Ordination Committee
  • For the work of Stanford UCCM, for Geoff Browning as he steps down as campus minister and for Annanda Barclay and Deb Weatherspoon as they come on board as co-chaplains
  • For all those affected by the devastating wildfires throughout California, especially in Napa and Sonoma Counties
  • For Charlotte Jackson recovering from hip surgery at Vi in Palo Alto
  • For Marylea McLean who is recovering at home from cancer surgery
  • For Andy Kille facing complex treatment for cancer
  • Pastor Rick for the family and friends of David Bartlett on hospice care in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Carolyn Shepard for her family in Nicaragua hit with heavy rains and for the people of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and all those places affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, and Nate
  • For our church in this time of turmoil with City permitting
  • For the American Baptist Board of International Ministries, it’s staff, our missionaries and families – especially Dan and Sharon Buttry, Dan and Sarah Chetti
  • For Sarah Nash and House of Hope in Bolivia: and Ramesh Kumar and Balasore Technical School

Praying With the People

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • Birthday joys for Diane Kirton (October 4), Anthia Lee Halfmann (October 8), Jo Ford (October 9), Pearl Pe (October 10)
  • Dan Cudworth, watching Steve Scalise’s return to Congress, for the power of prayer and healing to draw people together
  • Lynn Hunwick remembering the gift of his robe from Nagaland; for the people of Nagaland
  • Melanie Ramirez for the joy of the Community Gospel Choir’s first performance at the Quaker Harvest Festival; for Dona as she travels to Washington to conduct a memorial service for her cousin’s husband
  • Lois Ville for the joy of being home; for a good visit to Illinois; for her brother, Lou, now living independently; for the healing of stress with her sister, Diane
  • For Charlotte Jackson recovering from hip surgery at Sequoia Hospital
  • For Marylea McLean who is recovering at home from cancer surgery
  • For Andy Kille facing complex treatment for cancer
  • Pastor Rick for the family and friends of David Bartlett on hospice care in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Pastor Gregory for Puerto Rico and all those places affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria
  • For those affected by flooding in the Far East, earthquakes in Mexico, fires in the Pacific Northwest, racial unrest in St. Louis, and for the Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh in great numbers
  • Lois Ville facing major decisions about her vision and hearing; for her brother, Lou, hospitalized in Illinois following knee surgery; traveling mercies as she journeys to Illinois
  • For Lucille Towner recovering from a broken wrist
  • For our church in this time of turmoil with City permitting
  • For the American Baptist Board of International Ministries, it’s staff, our missionaries and families – especially Dan and Sharon Buttry and Dan and Sarah Chetti