A Servant King (11/20/2016)

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Texts: Jeremiah 23:1-8; Luke 23:32-43; Colossians 1:9-20

This is one of those hybrid Sundays, one in which several not obviously related foci converge and challenge the worship planner to come up with something that at appears coherent. I told Jan that I had all the hymns carefully chosen for “Reign of Christ” Sunday, the celebratory culmination of the liturgical year, when I remembered that this was also Stewardship or Gratitude Sunday as well as the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It is important in the traditions of our congregation to recognize all these events. So back to the drawing board to ensure that the Reign of Christ, stewardship, and Thanksgiving were all acknowledged in today’s service. If you’re missing “Come Ye Thankful People, Come,” I suggest attending tonight’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in which it will be the opening hymn.

Continue reading A Servant King (11/20/2016)

All Together (9/25/2016)

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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Texts: Psalm 148; Proverbs 8:22-31 (The Message); Colossians 1:15-20 (The Message)

PTL! There was a time when some Christian evangelicals might have responded by waving their hands and shouting “PTL” in response. It was something of a fad in the 1970s and 80s. PTL! Praise the Lord! In 1974 televangelists, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, took the acronym as the name for their new TV show – “The PTL Club.” I don’t know if anyone here was a member of the club or a fan of the show, but I will confess that I never saw it.  When Jimmy Bakker got in trouble for financial and sexual impropriety, the show and its assets were taken over by Jerry Falwell, who ran it for a couple of years. In all, it ran from 1974 to 1989, when, plagued by scandal and bankruptcy, it left the air.

Continue reading All Together (9/25/2016)

Walking the Way of Deep Desire

labyrinth01A sermon preached by Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Text: John 15:1-11; Colossians 3:12-17

My friend, LeAnn, is currently on pilgrimage in Spain, traveling the famous Camino de Santiago or Way of Saint James. Rather than walking the well-traveled (and crowded) route that wends its way from southern France across the Pyrenees and northern Spain, she began her journey in southern Spain near Sevila. Following a route known as the Via Plata, her plan was to walk 500 miles from Merida to the great cathedral in Compostela, which is said to house the remains of Saint James. It is the proverbial road less traveled.

The journey started well enough, with beautiful scenery, hospitable way stations and welcomed fellow travelers. She has posted lovely images on Facebook and given a moving account of her journey. But somewhere along the road, the trip became more strenuous and difficult than she had anticipated. One report: “Tough, grueling day, complete with plague of flies…not the spiritual experience I had hoped for. We climbed to the highest point on this route and climbed back down, then walked a very long way in the heat with no stops for food. 28 km/18 miles. One of the reasons for my change of routes is that this is supposed to be fairly typical of the route through the mountains. Don’t think I have it in me.” So she is opting to take a bus to another, less taxing route on which to finish her pilgrimage. I trust that she knows what she is doing to ensure that the walk is the spiritual experience she desires. It is not the physical challenge per se that drives the pilgrimage, but the spiritual longing.

Clearly we are not on this very sort of spiritual journey this morning but, as I considered these texts, I began to wonder, what makes us go? What fuels our journey? What do we really need to find our way in this world? John says it is the presence of God, known in the companionship of the Christ and the empowering movement of the Holy Spirit. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” What do you make of that? It does not seem literally true that apart from Christ we can do nothing. There are plenty of people who make their way through this world without the slightest attention to Christ. I imagine there are already several things each of us has accomplished today without giving Christ a second thought. So what do you think Jesus is saying here?

First, according to John, he is in intimate conversation with his disciples. This passage is part of what are known as the “Farewell Discourses.” That is, this is Jesus trying to prepare his disciples for the hard road ahead. It is important to note that he is talking to disciples, individuals who have chosen to follow him as he walked his way through the world. Now on his final pilgrimage from Galilee to Jerusalem and the end of this phase of his journey is near. For those who have chosen to follow, who have cast their lot with him, there is something in the relationship that is both sacred and empowering. To be a disciple then, to move with him toward the Beloved Community of God, may indeed mean that we can do nothing – at least, not about that commitment, that journey, that community to which we have dedicated ourselves – without him.

If we trust that discipleship means that we are friends of Jesus as John writes or even adopted children of God, as Paul argues, then what moves in us and through us, what motivates us and fuels us, ought to flow from a common source. The life-giving power of God moves by the Spirit though the vine to the branches so that we might “bear fruit,” so that we might walk faithfully the Jesus way and live fully into the Beloved Community of God.

You see there is the literal life of our existence on the planet but there is also the promise of abundant life in Christ Jesus. We can simply accept the former or we can commit ourselves to embracing the latter. In the Words to Contemplate from this week’s Midweek Message, Brian McLaren writes, “The wind can be blowing, but if your sail isn’t raised, you won’t go far. You can be surrounded by oxygen, but if you don’t breathe, it won’t do you any good. The sap can be flowing, but if the branch isn’t connected to the vine, it will wither. If you don’t have kindling and wood in your hearth, a lit match won’t burn long. It’s the same with the Spirit. We are surrounded with the aliveness of the spirit. All that remains is for us to learn how to let the Spirit fill, flow, and glow within us” (Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking, p. 207).

“To to let the Spirit fill, flow, and glow within us.” What would that look like, feel like, be like for you and me? I was thinking it might be like an exercise in interior design. We look at what’s going on inside us. We take inventory of our inner chambers. We consider the condition of our hearts and we choose to make some changes. Maybe a little house cleaning is in order – some things to move out, to re-cycle, to let go of to make room for new furnishings, for new being. In John, Jesus suggests that we make room for the love of God, plenty of room because God’s love is likely to claim a lot space as well as our time and attention.

Then Paul suggests that we include closets for “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness.” These will enrich the environment greatly. Oh and don’t forget “gratitude” as well as “wisdom.” These ought to have prominent places. Finally, Paul comes to the same conclusion Jesus does, let love bind the it all together into a beautiful whole.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” Paul says. That is, let Christ abide in you as you abide in Christ. Let God’s Spirit move in you and through you to transform not only your interior but your relationships and the whole of creation. It may be that, in the end, what needs to be done in our lives and in the world can only be accomplished in and through Christ Jesus. It may be that we can do little or nothing by ourselves but we can do “all things through Christ who strengthens [us]” (Philippians 4:13).

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” I remember, in my youth, we used to sing, with gusto, around the campfire, “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.” Now I wonder if we had any idea what we were singing. It was a catchy tune and we sang it at the top of our lungs, but did we really have a clue as to what it all meant.” Now I think the peace of Christ, the peace that passes human understanding is a dangerous thing, risky business, decidedly counter-cultural and a threat to turn the world right side up. The peace of Christ, the peace that passes understanding is built on compassion for all, justice, equity and work for the well-being of the whole creation.

You have heard me say more than once that the love that binds everything together is not simple greeting card sentimentality nor is the peace that passes understanding the absence of conflict. Those words of Paul come into play when we consider the love of God and the peace of Christ – compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, gratitude and wisdom.

Brian McLaren, again, says, “We start in the heart – the wellspring of our desires. That’s where our problems begin, and that’s where our healing begins, too. When we desire to be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit begins to transform our desires so that God’s desires become our own. Instead of doing the right thing because we have to, we do the right thing because we want to – because we are learning to truly desire goodness. Once our desires are being changed, a revolution is set in motion” (McLaren, op. cit., p. 207).

Later, LeAnn reports, “Lest it seem like all I do is talk about the challenges, today I am resting on a marvelous bed in a hotel in Salamanca…sharing the room with Andree, a woman from France, and Iris, my angel from Denmark. Today I am thankful for an incredibly beautiful sunrise, clouds that covered the sun for a spell when it was higher, for cooling breezes, for friends to walk with and for the frogs who were singing a glorious chorus of praise shortly after sunrise this morning. And every day I offer prayers of thanksgiving for my feet, my knees, my back, and the rest of me that all work together to enable me to have this amazing adventure…and for everyone supporting me and praying for me at home…and for my church family allowing me this time.”

I love her affirmation that the journey is not made alone. We need companions and we need community and we need Christ. I see the desire of Leann’s heart for a deep spiritual experience in line with God’s desire, with Christ’s way and with the Spirit’s lure. “Abide in me as I abide in you.” “Learn to let the Spirit fill, flow and glow within…” “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts [and] let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Then, watch the global uprising take shape and the revolution begin. For, friends, when our deepest desires align with those of God, nothing in or around us can hold us back. Through the love of God, the compassion of Christ, the power of the Spirit and the witness of the faithful, the whole wide world will never be the same again. Amen.

How to Be Church (April 26, 2015)

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Texts: Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 14:26-33a; Colossians 3:12-17

Jesus never intended to start a church. It’s a curious thing that those of us who claim to follow him, all these many years after he walked this earth, are so focused on the church. It is the way we have come to bear witness to what we understand of his ministry among his people 2000 years ago. It’s pretty certain that he would not recognize what we have made of that ministry. More than one wag has opined that Jesus would not be welcomed in many churches today, if he even bothered to pay them a visit.

Still, Brian McLaren has tried to help us see, in this Eastertide, that Jesus’ ministry promised, or threatened, a “global uprising” in his time. McLaren is also challenging us to recapture that same sense of the urgent need for transformation on this planet today. Could we see our way to committing ourselves to such radical activity? to the kind of discipleship we considered last week? and, if we did, what would it look like?

By the time the record began to be written something called the church was beginning to emerge from the practices of those earliest followers of our faith tradition. Luke and Paul write about the early church as well as to its first congregations in various parts of the ancient near east. In today’s texts, each tells us something about how to be church. What they suggest comes closer to what Jesus taught and practiced than what the church generally engages in today.

The sub-theme for this week is “Alive…in the Uprising of Worship.” As we studied these texts on Tuesday, it struck me that they covered much more than worship. In these texts we get a substantial picture of what the church, at its best,  might be. The problem, of course, is that these images and guidelines provide a significant challenge to how we do church today. What we see here is a way of being and doing church that comes much closer to the radical gospel that Jesus preached in the Galilean countryside and the courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem, or at least this is how Luke and Paul see the Jesus’ Way.

I ruminated on these texts as I made my way to Berkeley after Bible study. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that here was a recipe for pastoral and congregational care, which is the focus of my classes at both the American Baptist Seminary of the West and Pacific School of Religion. So much of pastoral care and counseling, as I was taught and have taught it, focuses on problems. What’s wrong? What needs to be taken care of? What needs to be fixed? These are legitimate concerns and appropriate foci for the discipline. Surely the world is full of folk who suffer, struggle, hurt, wonder, wander, despair, need help, comfort, compassion, concern and care. What has changed since I last taught these courses, a number of years ago, is a bigger focus on congregational life and care.

When I was working on my doctorate and first teaching seminarians as a teaching assistant in pastoral care and counseling classes, we were eager to instruct the students in all the amazing and wonderful things we were learning about the human psyche and counseling technique. However, we soon discovered that much of this advanced training was only tangentially relevant to people who were training for the pastorate, for work in the church. The vast majority of them would rarely, if ever, sit down with parishioners to do formal counseling. Pastoral care and counseling would be done more “on the run,” around services and meetings and the everyday routines of life in a congregation. We found ourselves quickly adapting our teaching and role plays to situations that would have practical meaning for practicing pastors.

What is interesting to me today is how this trend has developed over the years. The concerns, the material for role plays, the topics for research and presentation are much more oriented to congregational life than they are toward individuals and their concerns. Not that these are ignored but the more integrated focus on what happens in churches is instructive to me as well my students. In the course of this semester, as we have considered the breadth of possibilities for pastoral and congregational care, it seems clear to me that a focus on what is or could be good, positive, affirming, blessing about both pastoral and congregational care would be worth considering. That is, in the vein of appreciative inquiry, what could we say and do that was enriching, enlivening, empowering about church life? As David Bartlett asks in the title of his book on the gospels, “What’s good about this news?”  What is there to affirm and celebrate in Jesus’ radical word?

So this digression is to set the stage for how I taught my ABSW class last Tuesday night. We read each of these texts in turn and attempted to glean from them something about how to be church, something that would be valuable to us as pastoral caregivers and to our congregations as they engage in congregational care. We filled the chalk board up, down, across and around the edges. It was an inspiring exercise to consider the positive elements of care contained in these ancient words.

Since we didn’t have special music today, we’ve taken the time to read all three of these marvelous texts ourselves. So let us take a few minutes to see what we find here to teach us how to be church. Let’s begin with Acts 2, which some consider the original description of the first church. What do you see here that might help us be church in new, exciting, even radical ways?

They were “devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer.”

They practiced “wonders and signs” (though we’re not too big on that.)

They “held everything in common.” (Sounds like a commune.)

They shared “from each according to their means to each according to their need.” (That sounds downright Communist. What do right-winged, fundamentalist literalists do with this text, I wonder?)

They spent “time in the temple.” (Sounds like regular worship to me.)

They practiced, no they lived out their faith with “glad and generous hearts.” (There’s genuine joy in the church alive and well!)

They had the “goodwill of the people.” (Oh my, today young people are turning their backs in droves because the church is so tied to narrow-minded bigotry, injustice, hypocrisy and abuse! Seems like we’ve used up whatever good will they had banked for us.)

Now let’s look at Corinthians. We know what a fragmented and contentious bunch they were. Paul was determined to teach them something about how to be church, bonded together in one body, the Body of Christ. What do you see in these instructions on how to be church?

First, “each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue or an  interpretation.” (That is, everyone has something to share. We each have our gifts. We need to make room for one another.)

“Let all things be done for building up” each other and the community. (Underline this one at least three times.)

Practice setting “limits, taking turns, listening, silence.” (Since, we don’t do a lot with tongues or prophecy these days, could we find other areas in which to apply these disciplines?)

“God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (Can those caught up in contention that leads to chaos learn to get along in the spirit of God’s ineffable peace?)

The Colossians were a different congregation. Paul here is not as determined to teach these folks a lesson as to affirm his love and care for them. What does he say to them, and to us, about how to be church?

I start with “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” and “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (That is, fill yourselves full of peace, shalom, the well-being God gives so generously along with a large portion of that radically transforming good news so that it all radiates from every pore of your being.)

Remember you’re “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.”

Then, once you’re glowing from the inside out, “clothe yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

Oh! and don’t forget, “above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Well how can you beat that outfit for good taste and beauty!?)

Then, practice “forbearance and forgiveness, be thankful, teach, share wisdom, and sing with glad hearts.”

How to be church…friends this is quite a list, daunting perhaps. But what if it comes closer to Christ’s vision of the Beloved Community of God than anything we’ve ever known or practiced? There are lots of things about the radical good news that overwhelm us, that baffle us, that frighten us. Granted, but surely we know how to listen, to take turns, forgive and give thanks. Surely we could practice compassion and kindness, humility, meekness and patience. We know how to share and care and forbear, don’t we? Study, prayer, worship, fellowship, breaking bread – we’ve visited all those places, more than once. Building up one another and the community, working for peace, well-being, wisdom, the good-will of the people – haven’t we at least longed for these to be elements of our life together?

How to be church – well, there it is, a lot to think about and work on and yet all so eminently doable if we give ourselves to it. It may take discipline but we can practice this way of being and doing church, of giving congregational care, of living out Christ’s radical vision of God’s Beloved Community, without an advanced degree. Oh! and don’t forget that cloak of love, which binds everything – even us, church – together in perfect harmony. Amen.

Made Strong (November 24, 2013)

sermonsMADE STRONG

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Colossians 1:9-20

King – “a male monarch or ruler of a country or major territorial unit; especially one whose position is hereditary and who rules for life.”  So records the dictionary.  I am wondering if anyone here today has ever met a king.  What was he like?  I am reminded of the charming scene from Amahl and the Night Visitors in which the boy asks each of the visitors if he is a real king.  “Are you a real king, too?” he asks the dark one.  “Yes” he replies in a sonorous bass.  “Have you regal blood?”  “Yes.”  “Can I see it?” the boy presses.  “It is just like yours,” comes the patient response.  “What’s the use of having it then?”asks the incredulous child.  “No use,” is the thoughtful reply.  Apparently there is nothing inherently unique or special about royal blood or wearing a crown or living in “a black marble palace full of black panthers and white doves.”  It has its social value, but in the end the poor crippled boy and the imposing king are not that different.

We know about kings from reading, of course, literature and history and even the news.  Just yesterday I noticed on the cover of National Enquirer that poor Prince Charles has now turned 65, leaving him no hope of ever being King of England.  We have images of kings from art and movies and television.  The Bible is rich with stories of kings, good and bad, wise and foolish, strong and weak.  We remember devious assassins like Richard the Third and dashing heroes like Richard the Lion-hearted, weak, evil kings like Ahab and the glorious rule of David.  Kings rule with power and might and accumulate land and wealth.

So how did this get to be Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday?  Jesus of Nazareth, whom we now know as the Christ, scarcely fits the definition.  In truth, the Feast of Christ the King or in more modern terms, the Reign of Christ, is a quite recent addition to the liturgical year.  It was first proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in December of 1925 in an encyclical that lays out the church’s teaching on the kingship of Christ, who rules not only over the church, but over the whole world as well.  Even if that rule is not fully realized yet it will be by the end of time.

Still, for many modern Christians, especially free-thinking Baptists, the notion of celebrating Christ as king is a troubled one.  I suspect many of us would agree with Dan Clendenin who writes, “Today the language of kingship is outmoded and offensive. There are good reasons for this,” he says. “We don’t live under kings, so the metaphor feels irrelevant. And we’re rightly repulsed at how the reigns of kings meant a reign of terror for most subjects — massive wealth and power attained by cruelty and exploitation, which was then passed on by birthright to people who did nothing to deserve it.”  I believe there are several of those stories in the Bible.

Clendenin suggests that the blame for crowning Christ king should be put more on Paul than Pius.  He also sees that “…the language of kingship is embedded in the Christian story. The earliest followers of Jesus, [as well as] his detractors, used the language of kingship to describe who he was, what he said, and what he did.”

Today’s gospel reading from the 23rd chapter of Luke tells us that Jesus died an ignominious death, hung on a shameful Roman cross between two thieves.  Over his cross was nailed a crude sign proclaiming with bitter irony that this was the “King of the Jews.”  The crowd laughed at him, chided him to save himself, spit on him, gambled over his garments.  There was nothing royal in that scene and the blood that flowed was just as real as yours and mine.

When we rehearsed the Song of Reflection for today’s service, several choir members pointed out that it seemed awfully somber for the rapidly approaching holiday season.  It sounded more like Lent than Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas.  But, indeed, it is a recommended song for Reign of Christ Sunday.  Like our Call to Worship, it juxtaposes pain and majesty, suffering and redemptive power, compassion and grace in ways that give us real insight into Christ as king.

The genius of the metaphor is shown in the way Paul takes it and spells it out in the introduction to his letter to the Colossians.  Christ is king because he is the ruler over all that is and has been from its very creation.  And yet he is a king like no other, one who takes the notion of rule and transforms it into something beyond human imagining.  As the old hymn sings so beautifully, “The King of Love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never…”  King of love! Now there’s an oxymoron for you.  Didn’t you catch the definition?  A king rules with power and might, with armies and a treasury.  Surely a King of Love is doomed to defeat and death.

In Paul’s beautiful hymn that begins the letter to the church at Colossae, he helps us see and understand the kind of king Christ is.  He is both Cosmic and Crucified Christ, ruler of the universe and one who gives his life in humility and service to the living God.  Paul says “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” What a majestic perspective of the Cosmic Christ to whom we owe our life and allegiance! What promise of glory!

At the same time Paul points out that “He is the head of the body, the church;” – that‘s the very human us – “he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in [very human] him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”  As the contemporary song asks, “What if God was one of us?”  That’s the point Paul says, God was one of us, in the person of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, who walked the earth to tell us and show us what life with God was really like.  In the Crucified Christ we have been invited to live into that amazing, grace-filled relationship with joy and thanksgiving.  God was one of us who suffered and bled and died and rose again, all in very human being.

The great turning point in Amahl and the Night Visitors comes when the poor mother, faced with abject poverty, nothing to eat, no fuel for the fire, no hope for herself and her crippled son, decides to take a little of the kings’ gold.  She rationalizes that they won’t miss a little and it is for the survival of her own dear child.  She is caught red-handed by the servant.  In the ensuing panic, Amahl fiercely defends his mother.  When things have finally quieted down, one of the kings, Melchior, observing their desperate need, sings,

“Oh woman, you may keep the gold.
The child we seek doesn’t need our gold.
On love, on love alone he will build his kingdom.
His pierced hand will hold no scepter.
His haloed head will wear no crown.
His might will not be built on your toil.
Swifter than lightning, he will soon walk among us.
He will bring us new life, and receive our death, and the keys to his city belong to the poor.”

We exist in this sacred tension between our vision of the Cosmic Christ, the great king of the universe and the Crucified Christ who gave his life in humble service.  Living somewhere between the Cosmic and the Crucified Christ, as members of the body of Christ, can we turn from all that lures us away, all that threatens the fulfillment of God’s reign, all that frightens us, to pray with our whole being that we might be filled with knowledge of God’s will, with spiritual wisdom and understanding; that we might lead lives worthy of Christ, fully pleasing Christ, bearing good fruit and growing in the knowledge of God?  Then might we also pray to be made strong – not from dominating power or wealth or fame or other false promise on which we’ve hung our star; may we be made strong from Christ’s own glorious power to endure all with patience and to walk in the light of God – even when times are rough and the road ahead does not look promising.  Always and forever, the King of Love walks with us.  Amen.

Pledge Sunday

Harvest tableWe remember with love and gratitude our sister, Patrice Heath, who died on Monday.  Hers was a long and difficult struggle through which she passed with love and grace.  We are thankful that she was part of our community.  We also say thanks to all those who cared for her in these last days.  Please keep Richard in your thoughts and prayers as he grieves her death.  Services are pending; we will let you know as we know when and where.

Thanks to Doug Davidson for leading an excellent Adult Spiritual Formation class last Sunday as we considered Jesus and the “Revolution of Love.”  This Sunday we will finish our consideration of Pastrix, the memoir of the spiritual journey of Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Pastor Tripp will lead the session.

Sunday promises to be a full day.  It is not only “Reign of Christ Sunday,” celebrating the end of the liturgical year, it is also pledge Sunday and the day we dedicate the food offering we’ve collected throughout the month for Ecumenical Hunger Program.  As we were told Sunday, EHP will have an extra burden this year providing for the hungry and homeless in East Palo Alto.  Please give with as much generosity as you can to help our sisters and brothers in need.  Staples as well as any and all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast would be most welcome.

“Found Faithful – in Little, with Much, with All” is our stewardship theme this year.  We have been reminded that gifts large and small matter.  While recognizing that each of us lives with limits, it is also important to remember how blessed we are.  Support of our congregational budget is crucial to our continuing to minister to one another and to the wider world.  Please pledge as generously as you are able.  There are exciting days ahead for FBCPA.

“Made Strong” is our theme for Sunday.  In the beautiful passage from Colossians that is Sunday’s text, the writer offers these words of hope and promise – “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”  Is this not a word of good news for us as we look to God’s future?  Bring someone with you to share the joy of this day.

May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.

Pastor Rick