A sermon preached by Daniel Pryfogle
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
July 31, 2016
The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: Look around the room. See the people. See their faces. Open your ears to their stories. What is your name? What do you see? What do you hear? Why are we together here, and now?
How beautiful the faces! How lovely the stories! How blessed the names! The Spirit says, You are gathered by my purpose. I have been gathering you all your days, and before. Why? Because you are needed. Because your story matters more than you can know. For your story is part of my creative power, and my power is in you. Your story makes all things new. Yes, it does. Your story is a line across the breach. Your story is the thread to reweave the world.
What a wonderful weekend we had with Daniel Pryfogle. He led us expertly in an exploration of how we might “Lead through Story.” Friday night we considered how our stories form us individually and collectively. Saturday we had two sessions (plus lunch) in the beautiful setting of Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley. In the morning, we looked at how stories can challenge and even disrupt the status quo or what Daniel calls the “dominant models” for organizing our lives. In the afternoon, we moved from disruption to innovation. How do we draw on what we know about our own stories and the stories that disrupt (e.g., the Gospel) to innovate new ways of being in the world, shaping our lives in new stories. Sunday morning we talked about how we can bear witness to what we learned about story to bring about transformation in our own lives, in our community, and in the wider world. Many voices were heard in thanksgiving for this retreat experience. Stay tuned for the next steps. Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (8/3/2016)
I hope you are as excited about this weekend’s all-church retreat as I am. It is a delight for me to work on this event with my old friend, Daniel Pryfogle. I believe you will also be delighted to get to know him as he leads us through a process of learning to “Lead through Story.” Daniel grew up the son of a Southern Baptist pastor in San Leandro. I got to know when he and his wife joined Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland. Before entering the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Daniel was a journalist, working with the newspaper in Alameda. Daniel is the founder and CEO of Signal Hill Communications. Currently the Pryfogles live in Cary, NC, with their two young adult daughters. He is an excellent writer and preacher, a deep thinker, a great story teller and generally fun to hang out with. It’s not too late to join us, if you’re available.
This 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)
My summer cold seems to be clearing up finally. It is a good thing that Pastor Gregory was scheduled to preach last Sunday. Thanks to him for his timely sermon and for the liturgy. Thanks to Anthia Lee Halfmann who played the piano for the service while Jan was away visiting family. Her playing added a lovely tone to our worship. We had several people on the road and we had several visitors. On the whole, it was a good day.
We continue to journey this week with those who seek refuge. Our texts ask the challenging and important question, “What does God require?” More specifically, what does God require of us as people of faith in a time and place fraught with so much violence and hatred. What does it mean for us to be God’s people in this context and how do we show that we are God’s people? Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (7/13/2016)
Summer 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.
We have much to look forward to this weekend as we will have the opportunity to thank and celebrate Pastor Rick for all of his wonderful work and service to this community and our church. We are so blessed to have him and what better way to show it than by celebrating him this weekend! Bring a card, a cake, a turtle figurine, a letter, a picture, or maybe a really long hug – either way bring yourself and some joy to share with everyone around as we thank God for our Pastor and his leadership as we seek Christ together. Continue reading Pastor Gregory Says… (6/22/16)