Note from Pastor Rick (4/26/2017)

A bad head cold is not the way to celebrate the Easter season. We had a great day on Easter Sunday (and another good day last Sunday, with Pastor Gregory preaching on resurrection,) but I woke up from my Easter Sunday nap with a sore throat and went downhill from there. I am now on the mend, enough that I will be leaving tomorrow for Raleigh, NC, where I will attend the annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists. This is the 30th anniversary of the organization. The theme is “Embracing God’s Call to Love and Justice.” Speakers will include William Barber, head of the NC NAACP and organizer of Moral Mondays, Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Naomi, and the Baptist Archbishop from the Republic of Georgia. It promises to be a great occasion. I am looking forward to connecting with old friends and colleagues, including Daniel Pryfogle and his wife, Chris, while I’m there.

This week at FBCPA, we welcome Geoff Browning, campus minister for United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford. UCCM is a mission of our congregation. Pastor Gregory currently serves on their board. Geoff will preach on “Our Kairos Moment” (Leviticus 25:8-17and Luke 4:16-30) and lead Adult Spiritual Formation with an update on the work of UCCM.

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to support Geoff and the good work of UCCM. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in worship, education, and sharing.  See you next week.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Now What? (4/16/17)

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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Text:  Matthew 28:1-10

For those of us old enough to remember movie spectaculars like The Greatest Show on Earth and The Ten Commandments, Matthew is the Cecil B. DeMille of the gospels. For younger generations, think George Lucas and Star Wars or Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. Only Matthew tells of a great earthquake as an angel of God descends from heaven. This angel, blessed with super powers, rolls back the enormous stone that seals the tomb. And talk about an outfit! His snow-white suit dazzles like lightning. Match that, Superman! Not exactly someone you want to mess with. High drama! Serious spectacle. Academy award worthy special effects. I wonder how some of you young movie makers in the congregation would set up this scene and film it.

Then this superhero angel dude, sitting on that mega stone, the Roman guards knocked unconscious at his feet, has the audacity to say to those two terrified Marys, “Don’t be afraid!” “Oh sure, Gabe. You put on a show like that and we’re not supposed to be afraid.” Shaking like leaves in the early morning breeze, teeth chattering, they back away from the empty tomb and the heavenly hero.

Sorry if this seems over the top. But that’s the problem with looking at a 2000-year old text for the umpteenth time. We’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t really jangle our last nerve in the way it must have for Mary Magdalene and that other Mary. We have to work to slip our feet into their sandals.

Continue reading Now What? (4/16/17)

Note from Pastor Rick (4/13/2017)

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of Holy Week. I hope you are finding time to contemplate the significance of the week in preparing us for Easter. Tonight we will hold our annual soup supper with Communion around the tables, commemorating Maundy Thursday. This will be a simple meal and service for the whole family. Friday, our sanctuary will be open from 12:00 to 3:00 PM for prayer and meditation. We will have available prayers and readings to assist you in your time of reflecting. Due to a scheduling glitch, we have to do the set up for Easter Brunch on Sunday morning. If you can come at 9:00 AM to help (or, if you can, stay afterward to help with clean up) that would be appreciated.

As I contemplate Easter in the crazy context of the world we currently inhabit, I have been thinking about the aftermath of the Resurrection. That is, we come together to celebrate, as well we should, the joy of Easter, when God, in Christ, said a resounding “No” to death and “Yes” to life. If that is our core belief, then how are we to live our lives in a post-Easter world? What difference did it make in the lives of those first women who found the empty tomb, and then all Christ’s followers, confronted with the astounding reality that “He is risen, indeed”? What difference does it make for us? We continue to grow into people who, in the face of every joy and every concern, every triumph and every tragedy, can still say a great “Yes!” to life and to the Giver of Life.

See you Sunday at 10 AM, if not before. There is no better time to invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join us for joyful Worship for the Whole Family and a delicious Easter brunch. We will have child care and an Easter Egg Hunt for little ones. Please remember to bring cut flowers for the flower cross and finger food to share at brunch.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (4/6/2017)

The end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week is fast approaching. Sunday we will join together to celebrate both Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and all the challenging events of the week that followed, culminating in Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial. This is the ancient flow of drama and travail that leads to the joy of Easter. If we take the time to focus, to meditate on this tale of Christ’s passion, perhaps Easter will dawn all the more glorious. In worship, we will continue our practice of dividing the service between Palms and Passion. Both are important as we look toward Easter. Please plan to arrive on time or a little early this week. Not only would it be good discipline for many of us, but will also give you the opportunity to join in the blessing and procession of palms, which will begin on the outside steps of the sanctuary at 10:00 AM

Stay after worship for Adult Spiritual Formation in which we will delve more deeply into Matthew’s version of this great drama that moves from Palm Sunday to Easter. J. S. Bach found enough material in these texts to compose a magnificent 3 hour choral work. Presumably, we will find enough here to fill an hour. Maybe we will even listen to a bit of Bach’s masterpiece.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship for the Whole Family and Adult Spiritual Formation. This would be a great day to bring someone along with you to share joys and challenges of the ancient, familiar story.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Pastor Gregory Says… (4/6/16)

Pastor Greg with childrenLast week began our journey into Earth Month. I was excited to share with you the quirky things running through my mind this Easter season and how I feel God calling us to be a Resurrection people in a Good Friday world…gardening with God the paradise of delight here in Palo Alto! This week I’d like to highlight Wednesday night’s film screening, “Journey of the Universe.” Written by Brian Swimme and Yale University historian of religions Mary Evelyn Tucker, they have drawn together scientific discoveries in astronomy, geology, biology, ecology, and biodiversity with spiritual insights concerning the nature of the universe. From the Big Bang to the impact humans have on creation today, this film is designed to inspire a new and closer relationship with Earth in a period of growing environmental and social concern. I look forward to see you in the Youth Room at 7 pm. We will have the big screen and buttery popcorn!

Holy Week: Death and Life

easter_cross.fwEaster Sunday was surely a day of celebration as we looked to claiming our own “ressurection power” to make a difference in this world in the name of the risen Christ.  Thanks to everyone who helped make it a special day – to Jan, Daniel Ha, Daniel Ramirez, Dominique and the choir with extra singers for wonderful music; to Pastor Gregory fo his work with the children and youth and fo his work, alongside Carolyn Shepard and Soo Kim, in making the Sanctuary so beautiful; to Laurie Cudworth, Thelma Tuttle, the Satterlees, among all those who helped with the lovely brunch; and to Chip Clark for – well, only he knows all he does! I agree with Thelma Parodi and Pastor Gregory in the their celebration of our wonderful church “family.’

With the advent of April comes a special emphasis on “Loving the Earth.” Since Earth Day is April 22, this seems like the right time to take up our opportunities and obligations to share with God in good stewardship for all of creation. Pastor Gregory is taking the lead in this programming with some wonderful offerings from people whose life and work is focused on loving the earth. I hope you will “think outside the box” – that is, consider participating beyond your own version of “church as usual.”  I know I will.

Worship will be focused on loving the earth as will the education hour afterward. Even if you don’t usually attend Adult Spiritual Formation, I think you will want to take advantage of these sessions. There will be a couple of film nights for the whole family on the first and third Wednesdays and an all church Earth Day pot-luck on April 17. There are selected books in the library, if you want to do some background reading. “The Earth is God’s and the fullness thereof.” Let’s gather as a community to learn and to celebrate.

This Sunday Pastor Gregory will be preaching on “Easter Ecology,” following John 20:19-31. The education hour will feature Greg Grifffey, who is a farm boy from Appalachia and a fan of the great American essayist and poet, Wendell Berry, in addition to being a hospice chaplain. He will share with us about spirituality and love of the land.

This would be an especially good time to invite others to join you in sharing these experiences celebrating creation and loving the earth. Join us at 10:00 AM for family worship and communion, followed by adult education and Lunch Bunch at 12:45. Let’s carry the joyous spirit of Easter throughout these 50 days of Eastertide and beyond.

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

Pastor Rick

 

Pastor Gregory Says… (3/30/16)

Gregory StevensThrough the sniffles and the sneezing, the coughing and the scratchy eyes…I am still shouting: Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen indeed!! Easter morning was rough for my allergies. I was hot in my suit and the flowers had my allergies off the charts but there was no other place I would rather have been. As I told all of you on Sunday my biological parents, David and Carol, don’t do much family-ing because of my queer sexuality. That is painful. But that is also Friday’s news. Sunday has come, Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen, indeed! That’s the news I heard in your words of love and acceptance after service, it’s what I felt in your wrap-around hugs and forehead kisses, it’s what I tasted in your home-cooked finger foods, it’s what I see when you stay and work to help clean the church up for hours on end, and it’s what I understood to be your commitment in always showing up. Resurrection is the Spirit of this church! When it is the rambunctious, resurrecting spirit of Christ that brings us together we are not bound by the barriers of old but can spring forward into new and creative possibilities. I am reminded of where Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”