This Week at First Baptist (3/23/16)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, March 24, 11:30 AM: Women’s Brunch at Dinah’s Poolside Restaurant, 4261 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join in.
  • Thursday, March 24, 6:00 PM: Maundy Thursday Soup supper and communion for the whole family in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Thursday, March 24, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor. Join us as we prepare for a joyous Easter Sunday.
  • Friday, March 25: Spire Deadline
  • Friday, March 25, Noon to 3:00 PM: Good Friday. Sanctuary Open for Prayer and Meditation.  Take this opportunity to walk the labyrinth as well.
  • Saturday, March 26, 10:00 AM: Setup for Easter in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Wednesday, March 16, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house. All are welcome.
  • Sunday, March 27: Easter Sunday
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family
    “Resurrection in the Dark,” John 20:1-18, Rick Mixon preaching. The service will include the annual creation of a flowering cross. Everyone is invited to bring flowers to share in the creation.
    11:15 AM: Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch We will hold an egg hunt for children immediately after the worship service and then gather in the Fellowship Hall for brunch. Please bring finger food to share.
  • Tuesday, March 29, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, March 29, 7:00 PM: Eco-Brainstorming. At the home of Carolyn Shepard, 1161 Granada Avenue, Belmont. A small group think-tank to brainstorm eco-ideas that we can use for April’s upcoming Earth Month and beyond. Let Pastor Gregory know if you are interested in attending.
  • Wednesday, March 30, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos. All are welcome.
  • Wednesday, March 30, 7:00 pm: “Being Different Together: Experiencing Palo Alto, Perception and Reality.” Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road. This will be an evening focused on whether or not racial bias exists in Palo Alto. Keynote: Dr. Jospeh Brown, Associate Director of Diversity at Stanford; remarks from city council members; panel moderated by Pastor Kaloma Smith, University AME Zion Church.


  • Sunday, April 3- Second Sunday in Easter
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family with Communion
    “Easter Ecology,” John 20:19-31, Gregory Stevens preaching.

    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation: “Learning to Love Creation,” a four-part series. This Sunday will feature Greg Griffey sharing about his love for the land and its spiritual roots.

Palm Sunday to Easter

This Sunday will be filled with all the drama of the Passion of the Christ as we look forward to Holy Week. We will begin with the traditional procession of palms and end at the foot of the cross. It is a lot to cover in one service but it is not good for us to skip directly from Palm Sunday to Easter without remembering the pain and struggle of the week between. The service will be for the whole family as we remember together.

In Adult Spiritual formation we will continue our exploration of “Who Jesus Was,” following the video series Saving Jesus Redux. This material has generated lively and meaningful discussion. We’d love to have you be part of it if you aren’t already.

The other events of Holy Week include a simple soup supper on Maundy Thursday followed by communion around the tables and extinguishing the last of the Tenebrae candles. Our tradition on Good Friday is to open the sanctuary from Noon to 3:00 PM with recorded music and written resources for contemplation. It may also be a good day to walk our labyrinth. We will gather at 10:00 AM on Saturday to set up for Easter service and brunch. Your assistance would be much appreciated. Then, of course, Easter Sunday will be a celebration of the Resurrection with extra music and the creation of the flower cross.

Join us Sunday at 10:00 AM for worship, study and the sharing of community. Bring someone along share in the experiences of the day.

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

Pastor Rick

Holy Week Chiaroscuro

Rev. Rick MixonWe could celebrate spring, but we really haven’t had much winter. That’s partly a function of living in this area generally, but it’s also connected to our current drought. The flowers that bloom in the spring are doing just that and have been for some time – too soon for some. The Sierra snowpack is dismal which means extended drought and mandatory rationing in the forecast. It’s safe to say that the “winter of our discontent” is not in the beauty of the climate but in the sparseness of water. Water is life and the lack of it can most certainly become a “valley of our shadow.” At some time or other in our lives, each of us will walk through a “valley of shadow.” It may be death; it may be drought; it may be depression; it may be destruction, but as surely as we are alive we will face difficulties.

As Lent draws to a close and we look to Easter, I am reminded of the ways in which Easter is a much more powerful experience when it rises from the agony and pain of the Passion. What do we learn, must we learn, from this time of Lent? Baptist News Global published an article yesterday on Baptists and Good Friday. The gist of the article is to encourage Baptists, for whom this has not always been a part of their tradition, to learn the value of Lenten practice, particularly the commemoration of Good Friday. In the article, Winn Collier, pastor of All Souls Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, argues that ignoring Good Friday robs Easter of its meaning. He says, “We have to reckon with ruin and death to fully celebrate the power and liberation of life that we encounter in Christ’s resurrection.”

This road we walk is a complete journey with peaks and valleys, sweeping vistas of consummate inspiration and a shadowy vales of pervading pain. The old song sings that Jesus “walked this lonesome valley. He had to walk it by himself. O nobody else could walk it for him. He had to walk it by himself.” There is a sense in which this is true for each of us as we travel through life. It sometimes feels just plain lonely. We may even cry out, with Christ on the cross, “Why, O God, have you forsaken me?” The abyss before us appears impassable.

Be clear that I am not suggesting that anyone actively seek suffering. Lent and Good Friday are not necessarily to be desired or sought out, yet they inevitably come. Note that the old song takes a twist when it sings, “Nobody else could walk it for him.” That’s where the real truth lies. No one else can walk our way “for us,” but surely someone else can walk it with is. This is does not mean we won’t experience the loneliness, the pain, the suffering but we do not have to face it alone. Accompaniment is one of the characteristics we teach in pastoral care and counseling, but you don’t have to be a trained professional to walk alongside someone in need.

God walks the dark hills
The ways, the byways
He walks through the billows
Of lifeʹs troubled sea
He walks through the cold dark night
The shadows of midnight
God walks the dark hills
Just to guide you and me

My sister had Iris DeMent’s haunting version of this song sung at my nephew, Jack’s, memorial service several years ago. At 21 he died of an overdose of heroin on Thanksgiving Day. The loss, the pain for her, for us all, was indescribable. And still, somewhere there was a sense, a haunting hope, that we do not walk dark hills or lonesome valleys alone. “Bidden or unbidden, God is present.”

We don’t seek suffering to prove this point. Suffering, pain, death – they come on their own. But, amazing grace! in the depths of the journey we discover that we are not alone. We are accompanied  every step of the way. I know it may be hard to feel the presence at times and we move toward despair.  Even Jesus agonizes in the garden and cries from the cross – and still he moves steadily, faithfully on to fulfill God’s call. Even through death, all the way down to the depths of “hell,” Love lures him on to the promise of resurrection and new life in the One who created life and holds it dear.

It’s both Good Friday and Easter. You really can’t have one without the other. The upcoming concerts for the Choral Project are organized around the theme, “Chiaroscuro,” that great Italian term for the interplay of light and darkness. The artist knows that somehow each enhances the other. At the end of the concert, we sing a text drawn in part from The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. In resurrection language the finale proclaims, “O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united the Lover with the beloved, transforming the beloved in the Lover.” Strange language, perhaps, from an ancient mystic. Still, does it not speak of our resurrection hope, to be united in the Lover, to be joined with Christ, to linger in the healing grace of God? To have experienced the fullness of the journey can only enrich the joy of reaching the destination. Christ is risen, indeed!

Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist (3/25/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, March 26, 10:00 am: Women’s Brunch at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join.
  • Thursday, March 26, 7:30 pm: Choir Practice in the Parlor. New voices are always welcome to join.
  • Friday, March 27, 5:30 pm: Forum with Youth. In light of recent suicides and need for youth to be supported, we’ll discuss: Social academic pressure, Inclusion and friendship, Dealing with stress, Grieving and dealing with loss, Defeating stigma. Mitchell Park Community Center. For more information, contact Dona Smith-Powers
  • Sunday, March 29, 10:00 AM:
    Worship and Sunday School for Children & Youth:

    Alive in a Global Uprising: Peace March,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:  Pastor Rick leading, an extension of our earlier discussions about nonviolence and peacemaking. We will be using Walter Wink’s, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium, as a resource.
  • Sunday, March 29, 4:00 pm: Sine Nomine Concert: Sine Nomine, an Acapella Chamber Choir presents “Music for Friends” at Transfiguration Episcopal Church, 3900 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo. Jan Gunderson is the conductor.
  • Tuesday, March 31, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos. We will meet at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.


  • Thursday, April 2, 6:00 pm: Maundy Thursday simple supper and communion in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Friday, April 3, Noon – 3:00 pm: Good Friday: Sanctuary open for prayer and meditation. Walk the labyrinth in the Patio.
  • Saturday, April 4, 10:00 AM: Set up for Easter brunch in the Fellowship Hall. Please help our Congregational Life Task Team prepare for this festive event.
  • Sunday April 5: Easter Sunday
    10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family:
    “Alive in a Global Uprising: The Uprising Begins,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:15 AM Easter Egg Hunt for children.
    11:30 AM Easter Brunch in the Fellowship Hall.

This Week at First Baptist (4/9)

  • CalendarThursday, April 10, 7:30 PM: Church Choir  in the Parlor.
  •  Friday, April 11, 10:00 AM: Senior ChatWe will be blessed to have Inez Powell be our presenter. Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive.

    Saturday, April 12, 9:00 AM: Renewal Task Team meeting in the Parlor.

  • Saturday, April 12, 2:00 PM: Memorial Service for Greg Powers in the Sanctuary, followed by a reception in the Parlor.
  • April 13, 2014: PALM/PASSION SUNDAY

    10:00 AM:
    Worship for the Whole Family:
    “Not through this Gate,”
    Pastor Rick preaching, communion.

    11:30 AM
    Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Revolution of Love, Part 3.
    We continue to consider our hunger emphasis for Lent.

    12:30 PM:
    Finance Committee
     in the Parlor.

  • Tuesday, April 15, 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, April 16, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast  at Palo Alto Breakfast House,
    2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.


  • April 17, 6:00 PM: Maundy Thursday
    Soup supper and communion for the whole family in the Fellowship Hall.
  • April 18, Noon to 3:00 PM: Good Friday
    Sanctuary Open for Prayer and Meditation
  • April 20, Easter Sunday

    10:00 AM
    Worship for the Whole Family:
    “Not from this Tomb,”
    Pastor Rick preaching, communion.

    11:15 AM Easter Egg Hunt for the children.
    11:30 AM Brunch
    for all.  Please bring finger food to share.