This Week at First Baptist (3/23/16)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, March 24, 11:30 AM: Women’s Brunch at Dinah’s Poolside Restaurant, 4261 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join in.
  • Thursday, March 24, 6:00 PM: Maundy Thursday Soup supper and communion for the whole family in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Thursday, March 24, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor. Join us as we prepare for a joyous Easter Sunday.
  • Friday, March 25: Spire Deadline
  • Friday, March 25, Noon to 3:00 PM: Good Friday. Sanctuary Open for Prayer and Meditation.  Take this opportunity to walk the labyrinth as well.
  • Saturday, March 26, 10:00 AM: Setup for Easter in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Wednesday, March 16, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house. All are welcome.
  • Sunday, March 27: Easter Sunday
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family
    “Resurrection in the Dark,” John 20:1-18, Rick Mixon preaching. The service will include the annual creation of a flowering cross. Everyone is invited to bring flowers to share in the creation.
    11:15 AM: Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch We will hold an egg hunt for children immediately after the worship service and then gather in the Fellowship Hall for brunch. Please bring finger food to share.
  • Tuesday, March 29, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, March 29, 7:00 PM: Eco-Brainstorming. At the home of Carolyn Shepard, 1161 Granada Avenue, Belmont. A small group think-tank to brainstorm eco-ideas that we can use for April’s upcoming Earth Month and beyond. Let Pastor Gregory know if you are interested in attending.
  • Wednesday, March 30, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos. All are welcome.
  • Wednesday, March 30, 7:00 pm: “Being Different Together: Experiencing Palo Alto, Perception and Reality.” Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road. This will be an evening focused on whether or not racial bias exists in Palo Alto. Keynote: Dr. Jospeh Brown, Associate Director of Diversity at Stanford; remarks from city council members; panel moderated by Pastor Kaloma Smith, University AME Zion Church.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Sunday, April 3- Second Sunday in Easter
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family with Communion
    “Easter Ecology,” John 20:19-31, Gregory Stevens preaching.

    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation: “Learning to Love Creation,” a four-part series. This Sunday will feature Greg Griffey sharing about his love for the land and its spiritual roots.

This Week at First Baptist (3/9/16)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Wednesday, March 16, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.
  • Wednesday, March 16, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house. All are welcome.
  • Wednesday, March 16, 12:00 Noon: Baptists Lunching Together, featuring Allison Tanner and Louann Roberts reporting on the “Space for Grace” conference last November in Los Angeles. Grand Lake Gardens, 401 Santa Clara Avenue, Oakland. $10.00 for lunch. RSVP to Joan Thatcher, (510) 350-7008, by February 15.
  • Thursday, March 17, 1:00 PM: Senior Connections Book Group Our book is Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty MD. Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. Brown Bag Lunch (beverage will be provided).
  • Thursday, March 17, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor. Join us as we prepare for a joyous Easter Sunday.
  • Sunday, March 20: Palm/Passion Sunday
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family:

    “Twilight Zone,” Luke 19:28-40, Rick Mixon preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Saving Jesus Redux: Who Was Jesus? We will continue our discussion of this video series.
  • Tuesday, March 22, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, March 24, 11:30 AM: Women’s Brunch at Dinah’s Poolside Restaurant, 4261 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join in.
  • Thursday, March 24, 6:00 PM: Maundy Thursday Soup supper and communion for the whole family in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Friday, March 25: Spire Deadline
  • Saturday, March 26, 10:00 AM: Setup for Easter in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Sunday, March 27: Easter Sunday
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family
    “Resurrection in the Dark,” John 20:1-18, Rick Mixon preaching. The service will include the annual creation of a flowering cross. Everyone is invited to bring flowers to share in the creation.
    11:15 AM: Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch We will hold an egg hunt for children immediately after the worship service and then gather in the Fellowship Hall for brunch. Please bring finger food to share.

Farewell to “big sister”

easter2015-panelIt’s a hard day in this season of resurrection to have to face the death of my older sister this morning. Joan was almost five years older than I. All my life she was my “big sister.” It will be strange to no longer have an older sibling to call on. Thank you for all your prayers and concern during her long illness. Now I ask your continued prayers as we mourn, especially for her daughter, Cathi, my nephews, Kyle and Shawn and my younger sister, Charlotte, for whom Joan was “best friend. Remember my also my 96 year mother who has outlived two husbands, two children and a grandson.

Thanks to everyone who made Easter Sunday so wonderful, including thanks to God for the rain (and that it held off till after the Egg Hunt.) Thanks to Jan for arranging, preparing, conducting and playing so much good music; to friends from the Choral Project who helped augment the choir; to Clara and Daniel Ramirez and Dona Smith-Powers for extra musical support on clarinet, saxophone and piano; to Sook Kim and Carolyn Shepard for flower duty, including lilies and flower cross; to Eleanor Satterlee and all her crew – Hugh Satterlee, Laurie Cudworth, Sachiko Berry, Thelma Tuttle, Jane Chin, Carolyn Shepard, Sook Kim, Alan Plessinger and Chip Clark for the beautiful brunch; and to Chip Clark for everything else he does as well.

Sunday we will continue to consider the “global uprising” brought on by Easter. This week’s text is the very familiar twentieth chapter of John, including Jesus post-resurrection appearances to the disciples and the tale of “doubting Thomas.” “Peace with you” is Jesus’ refrain as he seeks to comfort his rattled followers and then encourage them to get on with the business of bringing to life God’s Beloved Community. To help them along the way, he breathes the Holy Spirit into them that they – and we – might have strength for the journey.

In Adult Spiritual Formation we will take some time to consider what lies ahead for us after the celebration dies down and daily life in the here and now stretches before us.

Please be here at 10:00 AM on Sunday for worship and Sunday School and stay for Adult Spiritual Formation. What better time to bring others along to share in the life of our community?

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.

Pastor Rick

Not in This Tomb (4/20/2014)

sermonsNOT IN THIS TOMB

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Texts: Matthew 28:1-10; John 18:1-18 (The Message)

Have you ever lost anything valuable, something precious, irreplaceable?   It probably doesn’t take a big prompt to bring back that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, that mixture of fear, anger and sadness. Maybe it was a valuable watch or piece of jewelry. Maybe it was a card sent by your mother or a note from your father or picture of you with your sisters and brothers. Maybe it was a family heirloom passed down from your great, great grandparents who had brought it with them from the old country. Maybe it was job to which you were dedicated. Maybe it was a partner or spouse who chose to move on. Maybe the loss came through the death of a pet or a friend or a loved one.

Loss makes me think of those great parables from the 15th chapter of Luke’s gospel, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. In the first two cases the shepherd and the woman searched and searched until they found what was lost and in each case there was joy and celebration. The father did not search for his lost son. Instead, he waited patiently, hopefully, expectantly until his boy came to his senses and returned on his own. Again there was rejoicing and celebration.

Maybe you’ve had experiences like this in which the lost is found with much joy and celebration. I saw on the evening news this week two people who had lost legs in the Boston Marathon bombing.   With smiles on their faces, to the cheers of the accompanying crowd, they were crossing the finish line, having covered the entire Marathon route on prosthetic legs. There are many ways in which what was lost may be recovered.

Especially from the human perspective, today’s ancient words tell the tale of something lost and something found. But this tale operates on a plane hitherto unknown in human history. We heard two accounts of the same Resurrection story today, and there are two others we didn’t consider. Each gospel writer tells the tale from a different perspective. Each has different characters and different encounters. Each has its own set of circumstances. It is pointless to try to reconcile all the details. There was no reporter with a video camera to provide an eye witness report for the 11 o’clock news. And, as we know from numerous crime dramas, eye witness accounts are notoriously unreliable. In the midst of the excitement and trauma, was the Fed Ex truck on fire or not?

In spite of the immortal words of Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday, “The facts, ma’am. Just the facts” – words which, by the way, were never actually uttered on the old radio/tv crime drama, we know facts are elusive. So, in the way of the wise Native American elder, I will say, “I don’t know if it actually happened this way, but I know the story is true.” There is wisdom and truth that supersedes factuality. In some cases that wisdom and truth is life-giving.

One key aspect, perhaps the key aspect, that all four versions of the Easter story hold in common is the empty tomb. Not in this tomb was the body of Jesus to be found. So say Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The religious authorities may have convinced the Roman Governor to seal the tomb with a large stone and post an armed guard, but every account reports that early on the Easter morning the tomb was empty, no body to be found. There are reports of encounters with one – or was it two? – figures in dazzling white. There is the familiar angelic admonition not to be afraid and instructions to tell the disciples either to return to Galilee or stay in Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. But they all agree, the tomb itself was empty, the stone rolled away and grave clothes left lying.

Another key aspect in all four accounts is that the first responders were women – whether it was to prepare properly the body, hastily buried at the Sabbath’s too-rapid approach on Friday or to keep vigil or to weep and mourn, it was women from Jesus’ followers who showed up very early in the morning the first day of the week, the Sabbath now behind them. It is not so surprising to find them first at the tomb on Sunday, they were also the last at the cross on Friday evening. Perhaps the women had less reason to fear the authorities than the men and so were freer to be seen in public mourning the loss of their teacher and friend. Or perhaps the women had less reason to hide in shame at abandoning Jesus when he needed them most. Whatever the reasons, they were the first to witness the reality – not in this tomb was the Christ to be found, not on this morning. As the angel reminds them, he has risen as he said he would.

Now I don’t know about you, but I imagine that word was baffling. As I remind us from time to time, we have had 2000 years to process these stories. They are central to our faith tradition. They have become engrained in us. But can you imagine what it must have been like for those women – whether it was several or just Mary Magdalene – to find an empty tomb and hear those words, “He is not here. He was raised, just as he said”? There must have been confusion, along with fear, doubt, and wonderment at what might have happened to the body. What did it all mean? The earliest gospel by Mark, in its oldest version, has the women keeping the information to themselves for fear of the consequences of telling such a tale in the very volatile public forum that Jerusalem must have been at that time.

John, the great story teller, gives us a very intimate account of that morning. Mary, alone at the tomb, discovers it empty. Peter and the beloved disciple run in and out of the scene and once more Mary is alone. Remember we started today trying to recall some of what we might feel when we have lost something valuable, precious, irreplaceable? What for Mary Magdalene could have been a more crushing loss than Jesus, her teacher and friend. Some scholars speculate that there was no more significant and committed follower of Jesus than this woman. This loss was catastrophic for her.

John seems to have a special understanding of the deep grief we feel when we have lost someone we love. Remember Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus? Whatever mighty act of God he was about to perform, he was overcome by his own deep feelings of grief at the loss of his friend. Now Mary Magdalene stands at the tomb and weeps. Pain, fear, confusion – “They took my Master…and I don’t know where they put him.” “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

How does she expect to care for one now three days dead? What does she want with the body? Who can read her mind now or then? She needed to mourn. She needed to weep. She needed to remember all Jesus had meant to her. Even at a stone-cold tomb there was something of him that might reach out to her and keep his memory alive. Now they had taken even this bit of consolation. It was hard to see through her tears in the murky mist of morning’s first pale light. “Mister, help me here. He’s not in this tomb. Do you know where I can find him?”

Oh yes, Mary. You are so right. Not in this tomb will you find him – or any other tomb for that matter. Yes, I know where you can find him. He’s right here with you, just as he promised. Open your swollen eyes, open your numbed mind, open your grieving heart. Here he is standing before you, calling you by name. “Mary.” Ah, can it be so? But no one else has ever spoken her name quite like that. No one has ever called her with such tenderness, love and compassion. Can it be? It must be. “Teacher,” and the reunion is complete. What was thought to be lost is found again.   What had been so painfully torn from her is restored. Her grief is lifted and her heart is healed in the presence of the living Christ.

I can’t explain it all to you. I don’t even know for sure if it happened just this way, but I know the story is true. I love the words of our opening song today. Sometimes I find myself singing them at random, unexpected moments. “Lives again our glorious King. Where, O death is now your sting? Where your victory boasting grave?” Not in this tomb. Not in any tomb. “Death cannot keep its prey.” God is a God of life and the living. Yes, there is this mystery called death with which we all must deal, but for God death is part of life. In Christ, all our fears, even the power of death itself are overcome. Do not be afraid, for life will ever triumph over death. Wesley’s hymn proclaims the ultimate truth of the Resurrection, “Love’s redeeming work is done; fought the fight, the battle one. Death in vain forbids him rise. Christ has opened paradise” – for you and me and all the world.

Mary, Rick, Jane, Alan, Kathy, Lynn, Sarah, Daniel – turn to your neighbor, take them by the hand and call them by name. Feel the redemptive power? Jesus calls us one by one into beloved community, that beloved community that lives at the center of the reign of God. In that community, in that reign, death holds no power. In that community of those called by name, in that reign of loving compassion for all creation, there is only room for life – abundant and eternal life. No hunger, no poverty, no apathy, no bullying, no hatred, no war, no enemies, no fear, no ignorance, no tombs of any kind and death itself shall be no more. If you can hear Christ calling your name this morning, calling from beyond the grave, calling from the very heart of God, then join together to bring that abundant and eternal life to all creation. I can’t tell you exactly how it is so, but I know it is true – Christ lives and because Christ lives, we, too, shall live. Christ is risen. Alleluia. Amen

This Week at First Baptist (4/9)

  • CalendarThursday, April 10, 7:30 PM: Church Choir  in the Parlor.
  •  Friday, April 11, 10:00 AM: Senior ChatWe will be blessed to have Inez Powell be our presenter. Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive.
  •  

    Saturday, April 12, 9:00 AM: Renewal Task Team meeting in the Parlor.

  • Saturday, April 12, 2:00 PM: Memorial Service for Greg Powers in the Sanctuary, followed by a reception in the Parlor.
  • April 13, 2014: PALM/PASSION SUNDAY

    10:00 AM:
    Worship for the Whole Family:
    “Not through this Gate,”
    Pastor Rick preaching, communion.

    11:30 AM
    Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Revolution of Love, Part 3.
    We continue to consider our hunger emphasis for Lent.

    12:30 PM:
    Finance Committee
     in the Parlor.

  • Tuesday, April 15, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment. The address is 373 Pine Lane,#2106, Los Altos. Let Pastor Rick know if you need transportation.
  • Wednesday, April 16, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast  at Palo Alto Breakfast House,
    2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • April 17, 6:00 PM: Maundy Thursday
    Soup supper and communion for the whole family in the Fellowship Hall.
  • April 18, Noon to 3:00 PM: Good Friday
    Sanctuary Open for Prayer and Meditation
  • April 20, Easter Sunday

    10:00 AM
    Worship for the Whole Family:
    “Not from this Tomb,”
    Pastor Rick preaching, communion.

    11:15 AM Easter Egg Hunt for the children.
    11:30 AM Brunch
    for all.  Please bring finger food to share.