What’s It Like? (7/30/2017)

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Text: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-45 (NRSV)

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by…

This world is not my home,
I’m just a-passin’ through.
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue…

I’ve got a mansion just over the hill top
In that fair land where we never grow old.

I have heard of a land
On a far-away strand,
In the Bible the story is told,
Where no cares ever come,
Neither darkness nor gloom,
And nothing shall ever grow old.

There are evergreen trees
That bend low in the breeze,
And their fruitage is brighter than gold;
There are harps for our hands,
In that fairest of lands,
And nothing shall ever grow old.

There’s a home in that land,
At the Father’s right hand;
There are mansions whose joys are untold;
There the ransomed will sing
Round the throne of their King,
And nothing shall ever grow old.

In that beautiful land,
On the faraway strand,
There awaits us a robe and a crown;
In that city, we’re told,
The streets are pure gold,
And the sunlight shall never go down.

Continue reading What’s It Like? (7/30/2017)

Note from Pastor Rick (5/3/2017)

In spite of my head cold, I had a wonderful time at the 30th annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists last week in Raleigh, NC. The event started off with a day long discussion among some of the brightest and most articulate young voices in our group on the question of “Why Baptist?” Friday was spent with the dynamic and inspiring William Barber, Disciples pastor, President of the NAACP of North Carolina, and founder of both Moral Mondays and Repairers of the Breach. You may have heard the address he made to the Democratic Convention last summer. Showing both breadth and depth of skill, he led us in Bible Study, protest and press conference, scholarly panel and worship, all around themes of justice and the moral demands our faith tradition demands of us. Saturday’s worship was led by three outstanding Baptist voices – Christine Wiley, co-pastor of in Covenant Baptist UCC in Washington, DC on “Home”; Malkhaz Songulashvili, Metropolitan Bishop Tbilisi of the Republic of Georgia on “Partnership”; and Cody Sanders, pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA on “Justice.” The event was topped off Sunday morning when Naomi Tutu led us in Bible study and worship. Plus, I had the added joy of brunch with Daniel and Chris Pryfogle – Daniel was our retreat leader last summer – on Sunday after worship.

It was great to get away and it’s great to get home. Thanks to Pastor Gregory and UCCM Campus Minister, Geoff Browning, for leading worship and adult ed here last Sunday. This week worship will focus on the brief, but significant description of the first “church” in Acts 2. There is a treasure trove of insight in this passage on the how the church might align itself with God’s Beloved Community. Somehow that alignment never comes easy, but what joy when it happens. We will celebrate Communion and after worship hold a Quarterly Business Meeting

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to share in worship, community and the work of our congregation. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in this joyous time.

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 (2/15/2017)

More time this week with the Sermon on the Mount. The lectionary also gives us material form the Torah (Leviticus) and the Psalms. This week we find Jesus instructing his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love enemies, and to “be perfect as God is perfect.” It’s a challenging set of assignments. Clearly we need disciplined spiritual practice to be able to live into this reality Jesus envisions. But it is important, part of the law or life-giving guidelines God lays out for those who want to claim their membership in God’s Beloved Community.

In our Adult Spiritual Formation we will continue our study of the Parables of Jesus. Some of us been engaged in provocative reading on this topic that we will share on Sunday. You don’t have to have participated in the first session to join in the conversation. We’d be delighted to share with you.

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, 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   

Note from Pastor Rick (1/18/2017)

Last Sunday we celebrated the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated not only for racial justice through nonviolence action, but also for peace, economic equity, and the realization of God’s Beloved Community. It also seemed important to me that we lift up the witness of our Baptist brother, John Lewis, US Representative from Atlanta Georgia and Civil Rights leader, who has been under attack. There are few in this land who have captured and lived out King’s dream for our country than Representative Lewis. As US citizens, he reminds us that “Our struggle is a struggle to redeem the soul of America. It’s not a struggle that lasts for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. It is the struggle of a lifetime, more than one lifetime.” This is a reminder and invitation to each of us to keep the faith moving forward. I am keenly aware that this may be a most challenging week in the life of our democratic republic. I urge you to be in prayer as well as witness for the well-being of our people and, indeed, the whole creation. Whatever our involvement, may it be an extension of our faith.

Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (1/18/2017)

On Rising to the Occasion (10/30/2016)

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Texts: Luke 19:1-10

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.” That ditty ranks among the top Sunday School hits of modern times. Alan and I spontaneously broke into a rendition at Bible study on Tuesday. My, admittedly impaired, memory is that we sang about Jesus coming to his house “for tea.” Unless the song has British origins, I don’t know why we would sing about “tea,” except, of course that “tea” rhymes with “tree.”

All that aside, this story from Luke’s gospel still has something to teach us. It never hurts to be reminded of the transformative power of Jesus’ presence. Zacchaeus has heard about Jesus. He’s determined to see him. Jesus actually speaks to him, calls him by name, and his life is never the same again. Salvation comes to him and his household with the blessing of Jesus, the Christ.

Continue reading On Rising to the Occasion (10/30/2016)

Foundational Words (8/14/2016)

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

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Texts: Matthew 7:21-29 (The Message)

One of my favorite parables is the Parable of the Three Little Pigs. Now don’t reach for your Bibles. I’m pretty sure you won’t find it there. But it would fit nicely alongside Jesus’ image of the carpenters or builders who choose to build their houses on rock or sand. Remember, the first little pig is in a big hurry so she throws up a house made of the most common and easy to work material she can find – straw – and then runs out to play. The second little pig is very taken with the latest retro fashion and so she constructs a house of sticks because that is the latest thing. Then she invites her chicest friends to admire how cool her house is. The third little pig – well, she is something of a practical plodder. She chooses to build her house of plain old bricks. It takes quite a while to place and secure  all those bricks so her play time is limited. The cool folk all point and laugh at what an ordinary house she is putting together.

Continue reading Foundational Words (8/14/2016)

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall (7/24/2016)

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Texts: Leviticus 19:1-2, 30-34; Ephesians 2:11-22 (The Message)

Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Continue reading Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall (7/24/2016)

Note from Pastor Rick (7/20/2016)

Rev. Rick MixonThis Sunday we conclude our consideration of refugees and welcoming the stranger. The texts include the classic instruction from the Levitical Code to embrace and care for the resident alien in the land, and Paul’s poetic meditation on breaking down the dividing walls of hostility. It is sad to see walls threatened and built to keep those “not like me” out of “my backyard.” For strangers in the Ancient Near East, hospitality was a life or death matter. Unfortunately, it’s not so different today. Paul urged the new Christians in Ephesus to bring down the wall between Gentiles and Jews that they might dwell together, unified in God’s Beloved Community. What are the “walls” in our world that need to be broken down so we might occupy the planet in peace and harmony, compassion and well-being, justice and love? Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (7/20/2016)

Note from Pastor Rick (7/6/2016)

Pastor Rick MixonSummer continues with several from our community traveling near and far. We pray traveling mercies for them all. Still, life goes on here. Sunday we will continue our focus on “Welcoming the Stranger.” Pastor Gregory will be preaching on Matthew 25:31-46,  with the title “Radical Hospitality and Holy Disruption.” Matthew says that when the time is right, Christ will look each of us in the eye and ask what we have done “for the least of these.” It is both a challenging and invigorating prospect to consider how we might act with compassion toward those in need. I don’t think Christ sees care for the “other” as onerous work, rather it offers a joyful opportunity to help bring about God’s Beloved Community in the here and now.

Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (7/6/2016)

Pastor Gregory Says…

LentGrowing up in High School as a Southern Baptist, we never really talked about Lent. When it was discussed it was always mentioned as being “too Catholic.” Some of my friends at school talked about giving up things like soda and chocolate, but it never really made sense to me.

Giving up diet coke and candy didn’t really seem to make sense of Jesus’ solidarity with the poor, imprisoned, and prostituted. So I have a different suggestion for us.

For Lent may I suggest that we give up being apathetic about telling the truth?

The truth is…

Sixty-two billionaires have as much wealth as half the world’s population, 3.5 billion people.

More than 50% of Transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.

90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone, 97% of native forests are destroyed, and 200 species are driven extinct each and every day.

Not one Republican presidential candidate supports my ability to get married to the person I love.

These are hard truths. This is the holy foolishness we are asked to consider for Lent if our hope is to bring about the Beloved Community.  The Gospel for our time is about staring evil in the face, without backing down and without resulting to violence, and proclaiming resurrection over dry bones. Together let’s give up any complacency within us by speaking and embodying truth to power.