Friends of God,
Merry Christmas to one and all! I hope the holiday was generous to everyone. This month we embark on a bit of an adventure with one another. As Pastor Rick will be away on a sabbatical, Oleta and I will both be picking up some of his work. I will be in Palo Alto on Tuesdays, Fridays, and (of course) Sundays. I’ll be leading Tuesday’s bible study and coordinating with the guest preachers and Oleta for our worship services in January.
Also, I will be on call for any pastoral needs anyone may have. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to spend more time with everyone. The first Sunday of January is Communion Sunday and Epiphany. We’ll celebrate the encounter that the Magi (the three wise guys) have with the infant Christ. I will be preaching and this will be an inter‐generational service. We’ll reflect together what it might mean for us to “return another way.” When did you return home by a route unknown to you? Sometimes this is what it is like to follow God.
We will have a pot luck diner on Friday, January 18 at 6:00pm in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome. Please contact the church office if you would like to help set up or clean up. Please bring something to share. February will bring with it our Annual Meeting (February 3) and Rick’s Return as well as Brad Berglund. Some of you may remember him from his book that we studied together in Adult Spiritual Formation, Reinventing Sunday. An accomplished musician and retreat leader, Brad will be with us the second week of February (February 15‐17, also known as the first week of Lent). He will lead a workshop on Friday evening, during the day on Saturday, in worship on Sunday, and for some time together after the service. The Friday evening event will be open to the public as is, of course, Sunday morning. More details are forthcoming. Please stay tuned.
Thank you for all your work around the church. I appreciate all that each of you do to make First Baptist a warm and welcoming community of faith.
Peace and All Good Things,
Take note of this passage from a recent article published in Associated Baptist Press News. It seems appropriate to share given our present conversations about worship at FBCPA.
“Baptists are people who have consistently desired personal connection with God, and the nature of the contemplative life is very much that God may be encountered personally,” said Pastor Eric Howell, whose congregation describes itself as ‘a Baptist church in the contemplative tradition.’
Another consistency is the belief that God is actually present and active in the worship service, and in the lives hearts of the worshipers, in a way that is not ultimately dependent on what happens from the microphone. Contemplative worship affirms the congregation’s participation in worship at the deepest level.”
The article entitled, “Contemplative Worship Fits Baptist Faith” raises many interesting questions and offers encouragement to congregations which are exploring various ways of renewing worship practices. Some congregations are even practicing weekly communion! Surprising stuff!
We have met for three weeks now to discuss what worship means to us as individuals and a community of faith. We’ve talked about history and spirituality. Just this week we discussed how baptists like Brad Berglund, John Skoglund, and Molly Marshall (the present Dean and President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary) are using language like “sacrament” again. What does this mean for the present and future of worship in the Baptist tradition? What might it say to us at First and who we proclaim to be in the midst of the world? How might our worship bear witness to God?
Join us. We meet after worship on Sunday mornings at 11:30. All are encouraged to come. If you need child care, please contact the church office this week and I will make certain that it is available.
Peace and All Good Things,