Note from Pastor Rick (12/21/2016)

Thanks to everyone who helped make last Sunday a warm “family” gathering in worship and community. Special thanks to Jan for her gifts of music and all who helped with the brunch. After a week of rehearsals and concerts, it is nice to feel a slightly slower pace this week. However, I did make a run put to EHP today and the pace is definitely not slow there. I was moved to see Nevida Butler in her jeans and sweatshirt marshaling the forces in the food pantry. (Isn’t she supposed to be retired?!?!) There were people everywhere, serving and being served. In our comfort and privilege, let us never forget that there are others of our “family” in need, some in desperate need. I know EHP could use more toys and gifts/gift cards for teens, as well as warm clothes in these cold days, if you have the time and inclination. There is an ongoing collection site right outside my office door. Remember it is precisely to meet the needs of all creation, physical as well as spiritual, that God comes close to share our reality and set things right. Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (12/21/2016)

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This Week at First Baptist (12/14/16)

Calendar

  • Meditation Group will not be meeting again during December. They will resume on January 4th.
  • Saturday, December 17, 10:00 AM: Set-up for Christmas Brunch. Please join us in the Fellowship Hall to make sure all is ready for Sunday’s brunch. If we work a little on Saturday, it will help Sunday unfold smoothly and joyfully for all. Thanks.
  • Sunday, December 18, Fourth Sunday of Advent
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family:
    “Faithful Response,”
    Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25; Romans 1:1-7, Rick Mixon preaching.
    11:30 AM: Annual Christmas Brunch: in the Fellowship Hall. Bring finger food to share and join in the festivities.
  • Tuesday, December 20, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Wednesday, December 21, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Bill’s Cafe, 3163 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

Looking Ahead:

  • Christmas Services:
    • Saturday, December 24, 5:00 PM
    • Sunday, December 25, 10:00 AM

Note from Pastor Rick (12/14/2016)

This Sunday marks the culmination of our Advent adventure as we focus on the Love that came down at Christmas. Love that comes to us again and again, pleading with us to open our hearts and make room. The augmented choir will provide extra music along with Daniel Ramirez on cello. Afterward we will gather in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Christmas Brunch. If you can come on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM, we could use your help setting up for the brunch. Also, remember, if you’ve signed up for the Adopt A Family project, bring your gifts on Sunday.

The texts for Sunday include Isaiah’s proclamation of “great light” that shines on those who walk in darkness and his prophecy that a young woman (or virgin) will bear a child whose name will be “God with us.” Mattthew then picks up that prophecy when he gives his account of Jesus’ birth. His tale gives a prominent role to Joseph and the angels. Mary becomes the “young woman” (or “virgin.”) More than anything it is a story of love and light coming into the world that changes everything forever. Immanuel, “God with us.” It is unquestionably a reason for singing.

Plan to join in the joy of the day, beginning with worship at 10:00 AM and continuing through the brunch. Bring finger food to share and someone to share the day with you.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Thanks to Dona; Fourth Sunday of Advent

Three candlesAnother full week in the life of FBCPA. On Friday, the final Senior Chat was held at Covenant Presbyterian Church, followed by a luncheon co-hosted by Covenant and us to say thank you to Dona Smith-Powers for eight plus years of leadership of this program. We shared our gratitude for all she has given.

On Saturday, in our sanctuary, we held a moving memorial service for Virginia Herbert. Until her death, just shy of her 96th birthday, Virginia was our oldest member. Virginia was a remarkable woman, school teacher, mother and social organizer. Her circle of friends and former students is large. There will be another celebration of her life later in the spring when more of these folks can gather to share their rich memories. We will surely miss her. Thanks to everyone who helped with the service and lovely reception afterwards.

Sunday we finished our brief spiritual journey into the theme, “Be Born in Us Today,” by considering the ancient practice of examen, in which we ask ourselves on a regular basis, “Where did I feel God’s presence in my life today?” and “When Did I experience God as being absent?” These are key questions for a growing spiritual consciousness. In the afternoon, a group of intrepid carolers went to the Terraces to sing for some of the folk there. Afterward we gathered back at the church for chili supper. Thanks to Eleanor, Melanie Ramirez and Thelma Tuttle for making the delicious meal happen.

This Sunday, the fourth in Advent, we conclude our celebration of singers and songs of the season. We will have an augmented choir with voices from the Choral Project plus several regular guest musicians. We will all sing our songs as well. The sermon title is “Angelic Airs and Earthy Echoes,” in which we look once more to the heavenly choir and the shepherds’ shock. You’ve heard the word before of this most surprising experience. The announcement comes to the poor and outcast, the lowest of the low – “It’s to you we bring the glad tidings. It’s for you the Messiah comes. Let there be peace and good will for all on this earth.”

After worship we will gather in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Christmas brunch. Everyone is asked to bring finger food to share. Why don’t you bring some guests as well? It will be a great day. See you Sunday at 10:00 AM

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

Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist (12/17)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, December 18, 7:30 pm: Choir Practice in the Parlor.
  • Thursday, December 18, 10:00 AM: Women’s Brunch at Nan Spiridon’s home. Please call for information.
  • Saturday, December 20, 10:00 AM: Set Up for Christmas Brunch. Please help us make the hall ready for the brunch on Sunday. The more the merrier!
  • Saturday, December 20, 7:00 pm: Blue Christmas ‘Tis the season of lights and good cheer, but not everyone feels like decking the halls this time of year.  University Lutheran Church (1611 Stanford Avenue, Palo Alto) is offering a Blue Christmas Service for those who want a space for prayer and reflection. The service includes Taize songs, prayers, silence, and Eucharist. All are welcome.
  • Sunday, December 21,10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family
    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Surprising People,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Christmas Brunch for the whole congregation in the Fellowship Hall. Please bring finger food to share.
  • Wednesday, December 24, 5:30 pm: Christmas Eve Service. A family-friendly service in the sanctuary

This Week at First Baptist (12/10)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, December 11, 7:30 pm: Choir Practice in the Parlor.
  • Friday, December 12, 10:00 am Senior Chat and Luncheon: “Our Youth at Risk” will present a panel discussion from folks in our Palo Alto community who are offering direct services to youth. Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow, Palo Alto.
    A special luncheon honoring Dona Smith Powers will follow. Details here.
  • Saturday, December 13, 1:00 PM: Memorial service for Virginia Herbert in the Sanctuary followed by a reception in the Parlor.
  • Sunday, December 14,10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family
    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Keep Herod in Christmas,” Pastor RIck preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation
    Be Born in Us Today – Enter In
  • Sunday, December 14, 4:00 pm: All-church Caroling and Chili Supper. Meet in the Parlor and we will spread out from there to bring Christmas cheer to some of our community who don’t get out so easily.
  • Tuesday, December 16, 10:30 AM: Bible Study
    at the Terraces of Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment.
    The address is 373 Pine Lane, #2106, Los Altos.  Let Pastor Rick know if you need transportation.
  • Wednesday, December 17, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, December 18, 10:00 AM: Women’s Brunch at Nan Spiridon’s home. Please call for information.
  • Saturday, December 20, 10:00 AM: Set Up for Christmas Brunch. Please help us make the hall ready for the brunch on Sunday. The more the merrier!
  • Sunday, December 21, 11:30 am: Christmas Brunch for the whole congregation in the Fellowship Hall. Please bring finger food to share.
  • Wednesday, December 24, 5:30 pm: Christmas Eve Service. A family-friendly service in the sanctuary

Pastor Rick: December 19

wreathsWe had a lovely time Sunday afternoon enjoying the gracious hospitality of Nana and Alex Spiridon at their annual holiday open house.  It was especially nice to celebrate Grace’s completion of her MBA (from the joint program between Columbia and UC Berkeley) along with her proud parents and husband, Greg.  It was good to see some old friends as well.

Sunday’s service was a challenging one for most of us as we sought to reconcile the day’s focus on joy (Gaudete Sunday) and the enormous tragedy of the mass shooting in Newtown, CT.  Thanks to Pastor Tripp who brought a powerful witness through Bruce Cockburn’s song, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”; to Daniel Ramirez for his eloquent ringing of the “singing bowl”; to the wonderfully joyful music provided by Susanna Jimenez, Jan and the choir; and to Melanie Ramirez and Dona Smith-Powers for providing and arranging the lovely poinsettias.   As I said Sunday, perhaps all we can do in moments like these is light candles in protest against the shadows that threaten us.

It felt like this was the right place to be on Sunday, as it was Friday night when we gathered in the sanctuary for our contemplative service.  If you and/or someone you know needs time and space to reflect on what’s going on in the world and what might be a faith response, I invite you and/or them to take advantage of the peaceful beauty of our sanctuary, especially on Friday night, when we will have our final prayer service for this season.

Sunday morning we will celebrate the “Light of Love” that breaks into the world and into our lives at this holy time.  Will we be as open as Mary was to the angel’s announcement of God’s calling?  Can we give ourselves over as she did to the power of love to transform our lives?  We will have extra music Sunday as we welcome an octet of singers from The Choral Project (the choir in which Dan Cudworth and I sing).  They will provide some special music as well as augment our choir.  Following worship, we’ll gather in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Christmas Brunch with a new feature – a Do-It-Yourself Christmas pageant!

And don’t forget we will have a Christmas Eve service Monday evening at 5:30 PM in the candlelit sanctuary.  It is a beautiful time for the whole family to join in worship of God who comes to us as a small child, a vulnerable child who in time will become “Jesus, the Light of the World.

This is a wonderful time to invite a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join in worship, sharing and celebrating.  See you Sunday before 10:00 AM and at the other events of the season.

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick