Note from Pastor Rick (12/21/2016)

Thanks to everyone who helped make last Sunday a warm “family” gathering in worship and community. Special thanks to Jan for her gifts of music and all who helped with the brunch. After a week of rehearsals and concerts, it is nice to feel a slightly slower pace this week. However, I did make a run put to EHP today and the pace is definitely not slow there. I was moved to see Nevida Butler in her jeans and sweatshirt marshaling the forces in the food pantry. (Isn’t she supposed to be retired?!?!) There were people everywhere, serving and being served. In our comfort and privilege, let us never forget that there are others of our “family” in need, some in desperate need. I know EHP could use more toys and gifts/gift cards for teens, as well as warm clothes in these cold days, if you have the time and inclination. There is an ongoing collection site right outside my office door. Remember it is precisely to meet the needs of all creation, physical as well as spiritual, that God comes close to share our reality and set things right. Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (12/21/2016)

Note from Pastor Rick (12/14/2016)

This Sunday marks the culmination of our Advent adventure as we focus on the Love that came down at Christmas. Love that comes to us again and again, pleading with us to open our hearts and make room. The augmented choir will provide extra music along with Daniel Ramirez on cello. Afterward we will gather in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Christmas Brunch. If you can come on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM, we could use your help setting up for the brunch. Also, remember, if you’ve signed up for the Adopt A Family project, bring your gifts on Sunday.

The texts for Sunday include Isaiah’s proclamation of “great light” that shines on those who walk in darkness and his prophecy that a young woman (or virgin) will bear a child whose name will be “God with us.” Mattthew then picks up that prophecy when he gives his account of Jesus’ birth. His tale gives a prominent role to Joseph and the angels. Mary becomes the “young woman” (or “virgin.”) More than anything it is a story of love and light coming into the world that changes everything forever. Immanuel, “God with us.” It is unquestionably a reason for singing.

Plan to join in the joy of the day, beginning with worship at 10:00 AM and continuing through the brunch. Bring finger food to share and someone to share the day with you.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

On the Way (12/11/16)

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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Texts: Psalm 146: Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11:2-6

On the way. We’re anxious to be on the way, but then we’re not entirely sure which way it is we are to be on? Where are we headed and how will we know we’re following the right route? There’s no electronic voice assuring us that our route guidance will begin once we’ve backed out of the driveway. However, we have some voices in today’s texts which we may find helpful. Isaiah says of the wilderness, stretched out between Babylon and Jerusalem, A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way…” Dietrich Bonhoeffer proclaims that “God travels wonderful ways with human beings…” John the Baptist wants to know if he and his followers should journey with Jesus or wait for another guide.

Continue reading On the Way (12/11/16)

Note from Pastor Rick (12/7/2016)

Our Advent journey continues. With watchful and wondering attentiveness, we have wandered through the realms of hope and peace. Now this week, we approach joy. It may seem hard to hold on to joy in this season of shrinking days, cold, and rain. The political climate is difficult, challenging. We are met often with pain, suffering, and death. The whole world groans in its winter sleep. Where will we encounter joy in such an environment? Our wise companion on the journey says joy will not just happen to us while we’re sitting and waiting. “We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day,” Henri Nouwen writes. It sounds very much like real joy is one of those spiritual disciplines we need to cultivate in order to make the journey to God’s Beloved Community.

Describing the “holy way” by which the children of Israel will travel from exile in Babylon to their home in Jersualem, the writer of Isaiah says, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (Isaiah 35:1-2.) Facing a long and arduous journey to an uncertain future, the prophet is still willing to proclaim that God will make a way and that his people can walk that way with God. That is reason enough to sing and rejoice.

Sunday is Gaudete or Joy Sunday on the Advent calendar. Come, share the joy of the day as we worship and study. Our texts for the day will be Isiah 35:1-10 and Matthew 11: 2-11. In Adult Spiritual Formation we will conlude our study of Jesus’ birth and the incarnation, using the Saving Jesus Redux video series. We have had some lively discussions in this series. You are welcome to join us.

In the afternoon, we will gather at the church at 4:00 PM to go caroling to several of our members we don’t see so often. Because those folk are somewhat spread out, it would be nice to have a couple of groups of carolers. You don’t have to be a trained singer to join in. You just have to love to sing Christmas carols and love your neighbor. After caroling, we will gather back at the church for chili supper. If you can help with set up or clean  up for the supper, please let one of the pastors know, so we can plan accordingly.

Plan to join in the joy of the day, beginning with worship at 10:00 AM and continuing through the education hour and caroling. Bring someone else along to share the day with you.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick   

Mixon Muses: The Hopes and Fears

In 1868, the great American Episcopal preacher, Phillips Brooks, penned his best-known text in the Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” inspired by a visit he had made to Israel in 1865. More than once, we have mined this hymn for the beauty of its words and richness of its imagery. The phrase that’s stuck in my head today is the joining of the “hopes and fears of all the years” as they meet at the foot of Bethlehem’s manger, I am drawn to the convergence of these two, presumably opposed, emotions because our own day and age is wrestling with just such a convergence.

Among the readings for Advent, we hear twice Luke’s angel say, first to Zechariah and then to Mary, “Do not be afraid.” As we know, this is a familiar theme in scripture, especially when an angel appears. “Do not be afraid,” seems like an appropriate word when confronted with the mystery of the holy. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’d feel fear if some sacred figure showed up at the foot of my bed in the middle of the night. I know Old Scrooge was shaken to the core as the spirits appeared in his locked chamber, well after midnight.

Continue reading Mixon Muses: The Hopes and Fears

Note from Pastor Rick (11/30/2016)

Thanks to everyone who stayed to help decorate the church for the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season. The sanctuary looks beautiful. Afterwards we gathered in the Parlor to consume a pot of “Stone Soup,” using stock from the Thanksgiving turkey and the contributions of those who stayed, including some kale and a rutabaga! Twelve people gathered at the parsonage on Thanksgiving Day to share the feast. I think a good time was had by all. Certainly no one went away hungry. The event seemed to work well enough that we will most likely repeat it next year,

I don’t want to be a nag about the Time and Talent Surveys, but so far only 10 responses have been received. As I said last week, I’m no big fan of surveys but it would be really helpful to the church leadership in planning for the future to know what your interests are and something about your willingness and ability to serve our congregation. Even if you think we already know what you’re doing and willing to do, please take time (only a few minutes) to fill out the form and turn it in.  You may discover something new or different that interests you. You may want to be liberated from something you’ve done for a while. You may come up with some creative ideas we hadn’t thought about. Take this opportunity to communicate with us. It will be much appreciated.

Advent continues this week with an emphasis on Peace. The text from Isaiah is his magnificent hymn to the “Peaceable Kingdom.” Both this text and the Psalm for the day invoke a style of leadership that is marked by justice, righteousness, wisdom, and shalom. Perhaps he will want to pray such prayers and sing such as songs as we consider a transition of leadership in our own land. In the gospel reading, John the Baptist excoriates the religious leaders of his day for the failure to grasp the need for such leadership among themselves. He predicts that One is coming who will sort this all out and make things right. Pastor Gregory will be preaching this Sunday and we will celebrate Communion.

In Adult Spiritual Formation we will continue our exploration of Jesus’ birth and the meaning of incarnation in his time and ours. Afterwards, the Lunch Bunch will gather at Mike’s on Middlefield. Let Melanie Ramirez or Alan Plessinger know if you’re planning to attend,

Plan to join in the joy of the day, beginning with worship at 10:00 AM and continuing through the education hour and lunch. Bring someone else along to share the day with you.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick   

Walking in the Light (11/27/2016)

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Text: Isaiah 2:1-5

“Isaiah is clear that we are not the ones who usher in a new era; it is God who brings it forth. Some would therefore say that Isaiah’s call is not to action but to hope; but hope, in the end is action, with the power to overturn old assumptions and sad cynicism, to give new eyes, and to heal our warring hearts.”

Stacey Simpson Duke, co-pastor, First Baptist Church, Ann Arbor, MI

In the spring of my freshman year of college the Glee Club went on tour. I had never experienced anything quite like it. We traveled by bus to Washington, DC, for our first concert. The rest of the tour was by train – to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Memphis, and on to Little Rock, our western terminus. While in Little Rock, we sang a concert at the Arkansas School for the Blind. Our conductor, J. Bailey Harvey, affectionately known as “Oats” for reasons I can’t remember, was a “hail fellow well met.” He was a big man with a booming baritone, an English professor at City College by occupation and an amateur conductor driven by his love of the male chorus tradition and memories of his own bight college days. He always insisted we sing like men, not boys and we did our best to comply with eager desire to fulfill his hopes for us and sound grown up.

Continue reading Walking in the Light (11/27/2016)