This is a season of change – some large, some smaller. This is the season in which we move from summer to autumn. It’s harvest season in agricultural settings. Along our tree lined streets, the urban forest turns various shades of red and yellow and orange in spite of (maybe in defiance of) the California myth of balmy climate and eternal sunshine. The trees still understand their fundamental make-up. The change is inevitable and necessary for their survival.
We move from baseball to football (though each seems determined to expand into unnatural seasons.) We go from shirt sleeves to sweaters, from straw hats to felt, from iced tea to hot. Today is full of change here at the church as we learn and experiment with new ways of communicating our ministry with one another and the wider world. Even this old dinosaur is beginning a process of leaving AOL for the uncharted waters of Gmail (gasp!) I think I’ve been using AOL since they invented computers, which is admittedly in my life time (gasp again!) We are working on new formats for the Spire (which you, hopefully, are experiencing,) the Midweek Message, the website, the Facebook page, and the blog page. Yes, we have blog page! Check it out at fbcpaloalto.org.
This will all take some getting used for you and for me. I hope we will all be patient and grow gracefully together. It is important in our outreach that we make good use of all the media – print, online, and social – that is available. Old ways of communicating do not generally speak to the individuals and communities we want to reach with the Good News.
This is partly a function of age and partly our location in the heart of Silicon Valley where everyone is looking for the latest thing. Of course, we welcome your feedback on all our efforts. You have much to contribute to these changes.
Another area of change, you may note elsewhere in this Spire and in the promotional materials for the World Mission Offering. There is a special emphasis this year on mission work in Cuba. It was not that long ago that that would have been unthinkable or at least unusual in American Baptist circles. The thaw of relations between the USA and Cuba heralds a new day of growth and friendship. In addition, we will hear from Carolyn Shepard on her recent trip to Nicaragua and our sister church in Corinto and from Charlotte Jackson about the tragedy of human trafficking in our world today.
We will also remember the wonderful work of our special focus missionaries, Dan and Sarah Chetti, working with all the religious and cultural diversity in Beirut and Dan and Sharon Buttry, traveling the globe training peacemakers, especially young peacemakers, in the art of conflict transformation and peace building. All this represents a huge shift from the sort of too-frequently paternalistic “foreign mission” work I grew up with. As the world shrinks, the imperative grows for us to work and witness across every border, to listen
before we preach and help before we teach.
The autumn leaves, a cup of hot cocoa, a warm woolen sweater on a chilly evening in the football stands, crisp autumn air, a crackling fire – these all speak beauty and warmth as the season changes. Can we see and embrace the beauty and warmth of the change that’s going on around us, whether large or small, and move lovingly and gracefully into the future God has laid out for us?
What change is inevitable and necessary for our survival as a congregation known as First Baptist Church, Palo Alto? We love to recall the verdant summer of our life together when there were many hands to make light the traditional work of a mainline congregation. The sun shone brightly in blessing and all seemed right with the world. Now, a season of change. Leaves fall, people move on, we all age, the resources – of every sort! – are less abundant.
What will we harvest from the richness of the past that we can store away for the fallow time ahead? What will we find to enjoy and love about this new season in our life together? Fall, winter, seasons of waiting and watching and wondering as well as time for planning and readying the environment for what lies ahead.
The change of season is not the end of the world. We know that there will be another spring, another summer. Will we be ready?
Yours on the journey,