Note from Pastor Rick (3/1/2017)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Tonight some of us will gather at Covenant Presbyterian Church for a simple supper and service that includes the imposition of ashes. Commemorating Ash Wednesday was not a part of the Baptist tradition in which I was raised. It was considered a “Catholic” practice and therefore not a good thing. I have grown some since those days, as I trust we all grow over time. There’s nothing I know of that’s fundamentally un-Baptist about a service of penitence that includes a significant symbol of personal repentance as we begin a time of preparation for Easter. I am grateful for this time to reflect on the significance of Easter and all that leads up to it, both in my own life and in that of our congregation. What does it mean for us to be a repentant people when called for so that we can honestly claim to be Easter people all the time?

Sunday, Pastor Gregory will be leading us in Worship for the Whole Family, which will include Communion. The texts for the day are ones that treat the subject of temptation. What are the things that draw us away from intimate relationship with God and a willingness to walk God’s way? Even Jesus had to wrestle with very real temptations to take an easier path than the one God opened to him. What can we learn from his experience and our own reflection that will help us along the way?

In Adult Spiritual Formation, we will continue our exploration of the Parables. This week we will begin to look at some specific Parables, especially the more challenging ones, to see what they might have meant to Jesus and his audience and what the might mean to u us.

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Communion, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

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

Celebrate Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

We will join our friends at Covenant Presbyterian Church for our annual Ash Wednesday service. We look forward to a contemplative evening as we prepare our hearts and minds for our 40 day Lenten journey.

Wednesday, March 1st
6:30 PM – Dinner
7:30 PM – Service

Covenant Presbyterian Church
670 East Meadow Dr.
Palo Alto, CA 94306

This Week at First Baptist (2/3/16)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Friday, February 5, 7:00 PM: Homebrewed Christianity Podcast Live in the Youth Room. Email Pastor Gregory to register (gregory.stevens@me.com).
  • Saturday, February 6, 2016, 6:30 – 8:30 PM: Parent Mission Trip Rally at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave, 94610. Let Pastor Gregory know if you have interest in this mission trip for youth and young adults to New Orleans in August.
  • Sunday, February 7, – Transfiguration Sunday
    10:30 AM: Worship with Communion for the whole family
    Fully Alive” Luke 9:28-36, (37-43), Rick Mixon preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation
    Saving Jesus Redux: Who Was Jesus? We will continue our discussion of this video series.
    12:45 PM: Lunch Bunch
    Oreganos, 4546 El Camino (at San Antonio), Los Altos. Please let Melanie Ramirez or Alan Plessinger know if you plan to attend.
  • Tuesday, February 9, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, February 9, 2:30 PM: Meditation Group led by Charlotte Jackson at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.
  • NO CHURCH CHOIR this week. Rehearsals resume on Thursday, February 18, at 7:30 PM in the Parlor. Join us in joyful song in the new year.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Wednesday, February 10, 6:30 PM: Ash Wednesday We join our friends at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow for a simple meal in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 PM and at 7:30 PM we will gather in the sanctuary for a quiet and meditative service, concluding with the imposition of ashes.
  • Sunday, February 14: 1st Sunday of Lent
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    “Sharing Bread on our Journey” Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Rick Mixon preaching
    11:30 AM: All Church Valentine’s Potluck in the Fellowship Hall. “Love Makes the World Go Round: The Fuel that Sustains all our Relationships.” Bring a main dish, salad or dessert to share. Beverage provided. Join us as we celebrate love in all its many forms.
  • Sunday, February 14, 4:00 PM: Installation of Pastor Jeremy Carlton at Shell Ridge Community Church, 200 La Casa Via, Walnut Creek
  • Wednesday, February 17, 12:00 noon: Baptists Lunching Together featuring Greg Sneller, Assistant Director of Development for the American Baptist Board of International Ministries, Grand Lake Gardens, 401 Santa Clara Avenue, Oakland. $10.00 for lunch. RSVP to Joan Thatcher, (510) 350-7008, by February 15
  • Sunday, February 21: Second Sunday of Lent
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    “Trusting God,” Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Rick Mixon preaching
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor; discussion led by Rick Mixon.
    11:30 AM: Membership Discussion
    in Youth Sunday School Room. For friends of the church to talk about their ongoing role in our community and the possibilities of membership. Let one of the pastors know if you are interested in attending.
  • Monday, February 22: Deadline for March Spire
  • Thursday, February 25, 10:00 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, February 25, 12:00 noon: Senior Connections Book Group. Our book is Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass by Theodore Dalrymple. This book is “a searing account of life in the underclass and why it persists by a British psychiatrist who treats the poor in a slum hospital and a prison in England.” Brown Bag Lunch (beverage will be provided).
  • Sunday, February 28: Third Sunday of Lent
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    “Praise God Completely,” Psalm 63:1-8, Rick Mixon, preaching
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation: Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor; discussion led by Rick Mixon.

Lent: A Journey with Jesus

candleringThe seasons cycle round and once more we find ourselves in the season of Lent. For forty days our focus will be directed toward the longing and pain of Christ’s Passion, the harsh reality of the Crucifixion and the life giving promise of Easter. We’ve considered before the ancient Lenten practice of giving something up during this season to help sharpen our focus and move us more deeply into the events we remember through these forty days. And we recognize that sometimes that “giving up’ can seem routine or punitive. I don’t think either of these qualities are to be desired as part of our Lenten practice.

In the Ash Wednesday service in recent years, we have turned to the lovely old hymn that urges drawing “near to the heart of God.” As we look for-ward to walking the road with Jesus, moving inexorably toward Jerusalem and all that will take place there, we sing,

Oh Jesus, blest redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

It is this holy heart of God from which we come and to which we long to re-turn. Though this journey with Jesus moves surely toward all that Holy Week holds, the good and the bad, the ugly and the glorious, it also carries us beyond into the center of what it means to be God’s people, a people always wanting our lives to be held in the heart of God.

If giving up something helps lighten your load so that it’s easier to make the journey, by all means do so. Let go of anything and everything that blocks the way to that place of “quiet rest,” of “comfort sweet,” of “full release,” of “joy and peace” found near the heart of God. I’m sure many of us carry more burdens than we need to do as we wend our way through life. Learning to travel light is good spiritual discipline and serves the Lenten season well.

But it may also be that there are things we need to take on in new or more in-tentional ways. To pray, to contemplate, to sit in silence, to seek out the wonders of God in the world around us, to help another along the way. These and other disciplines also may help to sharpen our focus and move us closer to God’s heart. One of the things we are learning in the classes I am teaching this spring is the importance for pastoral counselors and caregivers to pay attention to cultivating spiritual disciplines in order to make our practice of care more meaningful.

Above all, Lent is a time to pay attention to those things, those elements, those practices which help or hinder us on our journey. Give up chocolate or meat or Facebook or anything that you sense may be blocking your way, if you be-lieve that will truly bring you nearer the heart of God. Set aside regular time for prayer, meditation, silence, reading, helping, if you believe that those prac-tices will move you more surely along the path to the heart of God.

Wait, watch, walk with Jesus. What is it he lets go of, turns his back on, fore-goes as he moves along? What are his disciplines, his practices, his commit-ments as he walks the road laid out before him? What might we learn from his walk and his walking with us that moves us along the road laid out before us? Using Brian McLaren’s, We Make the Road by Walking, we will use texts from the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5, 6 and 7 – as a scriptural guide. What better place to observe Jesus at work for the Beloved Community of God.

Sometimes it may seem that we walk the lonesome valley by ourselves for no one else can walk it for us and sometimes we take the hand of our neighbor, our journey partner, our beloved and walk the road together in blessed company. However we travel through this Lenten season, may it lead us ever nearer the heart of God.

Yours on the journey,
Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist (2/11/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, February 12, 7:30 pm: Choir Practice  in the Parlor. New voices are always welcome to join.
  • Friday, February 13, 6:00 pm: Intergenerational Potluck in Celebration of Valentine’s Day. In the Fellowship Hall. Everyone welcome; bring a guest or three.
  • Sunday, February 15, 10:00 AM:
    Worship for the whole family

    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus and Hell,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:  Susan Bradley will share with us highlights of her recent trips to Haiti and Cuba
  • Tuesday, February 17, 10:30 am: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos. We will meet at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Wednesday, February 18, 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, February 18, 6:30 pm: Ash Wednesday meal and service: We join our friends at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow for a simple meal in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 PM and at 7:30 PM we will gather in the sanctuary for a quiet and meditative service concluding with the imposition of ashes

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, February 19, 1:00 pm: Memorial Service for Ruth Sawyer Clark in the Sanctuary followed by a reception in Fellowship Hall
  • Thursday, February 19, : Church Council meeting in the Parlor.
  • Sunday, February 22, 10:00 AM:
    Worship for the whole family

    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus and Violence and Power,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:  Dave Robinson from Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy of Santa Clara County will talk about the ministry CIC provides in the county jails
  • Thursday, February 26, 10:00 am: Women’s Brunch at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join.

This Week at First Baptist (2/4/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, February 5, 7:30 pm: Choir Practice  in the Parlor. New voices are always welcome to join.
  • Sunday, February 8, 10:00 AM:
    Worship for the whole family

    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus and the Multitudes,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation: Report from Dona Smith-Powers and Martha Meyers, who recently attended the Alliance of Baptists’ Conference on the Middle East in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Tuesday, February 10, 10:30 am: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos. We will meet at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Saturday, February 14, 6:00 pm: Intergenerational Potluck in Celebration of Valentine’s Day. In the Fellowship Hall. Everyone welcome; bring a guest or three.
  • Sunday, February 15, 10:00 AM:
    Worship for the whole family

    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus and Hell,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:  Susan Bradley will share with us highlights of her recent trips to Haiti and Cuba
  • Wednesday, February 18, 6:30 pm: Ash Wednesday meal and service: We join our friends at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow for a simple meal in the Fellowship Hall at 6:30 PM and at 7:30 PM we will gather in the sanctuary for a quiet and meditative service concluding with the imposition of ashes
  • Thursday, February 19, 1:00 pm: Memorial Service for Ruth Sawyer Clark in the Sanctuary followed by a reception in Fellowship Hall
  • Thursday, February 19, : Church Council meeting in the Parlor.
  • Sunday, February 22, 10:00 AM:
    Worship for the whole family

    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus and Violence and Power,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:  Dave Robinson from Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy of Santa Clara County will talk about the ministry CIC provides in the county jails
  • Thursday, February 26, 10:00 am: Women’s Brunch at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join.

Lent begins

revolution of love on the journey of lentThe Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday to be shared with Covenant Presbyterian this evening.  We are all invited to a simple supper at 6:30 PM followed by a worship service that will include the imposition of ashes.  This is a meaningful way to enter into this season of reflection and preparation. You will see below a calendar of Lenten activities for our congregation.  Our theme this year is “Revolution of Love,” drawing on the work we’ve been doing during the Adult Spiritual Formation time.  Last Sunday we decided to invite one another and the congregation as a whole to engage in a discipline of compassion around hunger.  During Sunday’s service we will hear an invitation with options about how we might all participate.  We hope everyone will find a way to join in.

The worship focus will be on Matthew’s account of the Temptation of Christ.  Perhaps it’s a function of our free will that we each will be tested in real and challenging ways, just as Jesus was.  How will we respond to those things in our lives that draw us away from God, that invite us to put our faith in anything or anyone other than the Creator?  Jesus had to wrestle with this and so must we.  It is central to the Lenten journey that we keep ourselves open and faithful to God’s movement in our midst in the same way Christ does.

Following worship, we will have the first of three Vision Forums, in which we will consider the Renewal Proposal that has been circulated among the members and close friends of the congregation.  This is a challenging proposal which merits our careful and prayerful attention.  Sunday we will have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions as well as share our preliminary thoughts and feelings about this exciting prospect for the future of our church.  I know some of you have questions and concerns about the nature and scope of the Proposal.  We will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to express themselves as we also listen attentively to what each person has to say.  Above all, I encourage each of us to be in prayer that the Spirit will move in our midst and God will guide us into God’s future for us.  I urge everyone to attend this Forum and participate fully and openly.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for worship and Sunday School.  Bring someone along to share the Lenten Journey with you.

God grant us more light, more love, more life as we journey together.
Pastor Rick