A Resurrection People

A sermon preached by
Gregory Stevens
First Baptist Church of Palo Alto
Sunday, 29 April 2018
Text: John 15:1-8

“Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ’s message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology.” – James Cone (1936-2018)

If you are a follower of Jesus it seems pretty obvious that his calling on our lives is to be good people, to bear juicy fruit, and to live as if we were an extension of his life and work.

Christ is the Vine, we are the branches.

But what makes for a good and sturdy branch, one that can bear juicy fruit?

Is it enough to simply be nice to the person bagging our groceries? Did Jesus get executed for calling us to be friendlier to our coffee barista? Can the resurrection really be boiled down to mere neighborliness?

I don’t think the symbol of the Christian movement would have been a political prisoners execution, the cross, if God was calling us to niceness.

When the early church is forming in the Luke-Acts narrative we read that the Spirit falls on Pentecost, the whole room shakes, and everyone begins to speak in each other’s native tongue, united in their diversity they share their money and property, they distributed their goods as different needs came up: the sick were healed, the hungry fed, the outcaste welcomed, and the naked clothed.

Continue reading A Resurrection People

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Praying With the People

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • Birthday Joys: Wai Hon Lee and Ruth Owen (April 29)
  • Kathy Gillam for her daughter, Julia, who will soon go on maternity leave from teaching middle school in Fremont
  • Laurie Cudworth and Dan who are expecting their first grandchild – “It’s a girl!”; and then a week in Palm Springs
  • Melanie Ramirez for her brother, Darren, on his birthday last Monday
  • For Ron Fredlund and the family friends of Mary Martin who died on Monday
  • Carolyn Shepard for Steven who has started a new job; for his friend who is homeless
  • For Eileen Conover as she prepares for hip surgery on Thursday, April 28
  • For the people of Nicaragua with the unrest there
  • For our neighbors that we may find ways to live peacefully with them
  • For Don, Dustin, and Dylan Ha as they deal with the difficulties of serious water damage to their home
  • Remembering the Hunwicks as we raise money for scholarships at ABSW and for the good work of the school

Listening to the Earth

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, April 22, 2018

Text: Psalm 100; Job 12:7-10; 19:25-27; from 38 and 39

“Ask the animals.” That was the original title of this sermon. “Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.” Job uses these words to challenge the wisdom of his so-called friends. But in the end, Job, his friends, and we ourselves might do well to ask the animals, to consult creation, to listen to the earth to hear what they might have to tell us, to discern if we might be missing some message from the Holy One. If nothing else, it could be an important exercise in the practice of humility.

As Job asks his friends, “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Holy One has done this? In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” Maybe he would be better off asking “Who DOES know that the hand of the Lord has done this? That “In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” “Know that the Holy One is God; it is God who has made us and not we ourselves,” the psalmist sings. If we really understood this, believed this, practiced this, how might our lives and the life of the planet be different? Continue reading Listening to the Earth

Joys and Concerns

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • Kathy Gillam for Pastor Rick and the extra work he has put in on the church’s CUP application
  • Laurie Cudworth and Dan who are expecting their first grandchild – “It’s a girl!”; and then a week in Palm Springs
  • Paul Berry who would like for us to have a “serious sparking problem” on Sunday morning
  • Melanie Ramirez for a great time hanging out with the “Lunch Bunch” last Sunday and sharing; for her family as their dog, Adam, is very ill
  • For Ron and the family friends of Mary Martin who died on Monday
  • Chip Clark for Carolyn Shepard who had to leave early to be with Steven and a friend she’s been helping
  • For Eileen Conover as she prepares for hip surgery later this month
  • For our neighbors that we may find ways to live peacefully with them
  • For Don, Dustin, and Dylan Ha as they deal with the difficulties of serious water damage to their home
  • Remembering the Hunwicks as we raise money for scholarships at ABSW and for the good work of the school

Community of Faith

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, April 15, 2018

Text: Luke 24:36-49

Enough of them had been there, even if they had been watching at a distance, to know what had happened. The tragic tale had been repeated enough times now that they could all recite it. He was arrested, tried, ridiculed, beaten, and executed. There was no question that he was dead. They all knew that Joseph of Arimathea had taken the body from the Romans and laid it in the tomb. Luke says, “The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55-56). So, some of their own number had actually witnessed the entombment. The burial cave was sealed. That was it. He himself had cried from the cross, “It is finished!” Done. Over with. Dead. No one could deny it.

Except that on the “first day of the week, at early dawn,” that same group of women, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, had returned to the tomb to complete the work of actually anointing the body, which they had been unable to do when the sun set and sabbath began. Shockingly, they discovered the stone rolled away and the body gone. Before they could do anything more than share their perplexity, “two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.” Naturally enough, “the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest” (Luke 24:4-9). Continue reading Community of Faith

Praying With the People

Our Joys and Concerns for this week include:

  • Birthday joys: Laura Garcia (April 13), Peggy Johnson (April 15)
  • Nana Spiridon for Alex’s recovery from pneumonia and for a joyful Easter dinner with him at home
  • Melanie Ramirez for the success of Dona’s trip to the Yurok Reservation where two playgrounds were built and contributions were distributed
  • Laurie Cudworth and Dan will be going to Reno this coming weekend for a “gender reveal “ party for their first grandchild; and then a week in Palm Springs
  • Lois Ville shared Eileen Conover’s concern for her cousin, Karen, in Solvang who is dealing with an eating disorder; for Eileen as she prepares for hip surgery later this month
  • For our neighbors that we may find ways to live peacefully with them
  • For Don, Dustin, and Dylan Ha as they deal with the difficulties of serious water damage to their home
  • Remembering the Hunwicks as we raise money for scholarships at ABSW and for the good work of the school

Great Grace

A Sermon preached by the
Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, April 8, 2018

Text: Acts 4:32-35

Long ago and far away – well 45 years ago in Berkeley, anyway – I lived in a kind of commune. 10 or 12 of us, all connected through the Graduate Theological Union and its member schools, lived in a large, three-story house on Hearst Street, directly across from the residence of the president of the University of California. The house was owned by two of the women who lived there who were the beneficiaries of wealthy families. I’m not sure how tight-knit a community it was compared to other communes of which I’ve heard, but we had house meetings, house rules, some shared meals, some shared activities, and common concern for things theological. There was diversity in background, life-style, interest, and theological thinking, but we were all white, middle and upper middle class young adults – clearly people of privilege. It didn’t cost us much to live in this sort of community. Continue reading Great Grace