This Week at First Baptist (11/19)

  • CalendarThursday, November 20, 2014, 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, November 20, 7:30 pm: Church Choir in the Parlor. Come and lift your voice in song. All are welcome.
  • Friday, November 21, 2014, 6:00 pm: Gratitude Potluck for folk of all ages in the Fellowship Hall. Join us for an intergenerational potluck dinner and celebration of all for which we have to be grateful. Bring a dish to share. You may also bring turkeys and canned food for Ecumenical Hunger Program that evening. Invite a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in this time of celebration! 
  • Sunday, November 23, 2014: Stewardship Sunday
    10:00 AM Worship and Sunday School:
    “Stories That Shape Us” Pastor Rick preaching. You encouraged to bring your completed pledge form for the 2015 budget.
    11:30 AM: Hanging of the Greens We will decorate the church for the Advent to Epiphany season. There will be activities for all ages. Coffee, juice, fruit, doughnuts for extra enticement. Help make our Advent to Epiphany Worship a warm and colorful reality.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014: Deadline for December Spire
  • Tuesday, November 25, 2014: 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 a ride.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 7:30 pm: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 4111 Alma Street, Palo Alto. “Sharing the Land: with Compassion and without Fear.” An offering will be taken for Community Legal Services and Doctors without Borders. Non-perishable food items for local food closets are also welcome.
  • THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27 AND 28, Thanksgiving Holiday, church office closed.
  • FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT, NOVEMBER 30, 10:00 AM, Worship and Sunday School: “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Promised Land, Promised Time” Pastor Rick preaching.  11:30 AM, Adult Spiritual Formation, Be Born in Us Today, a three 3 week series of Advent reflection based on a verse from Phillips Brooks’s carol, Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

This Week at First Baptist (11/12)

  • CalendarThursday, November 13, 2014, 5:00 pm: Church Council in the Parlor
  • Thursday, November 13, 7:30 pm: Church Choir in the Parlor. Come and lift your voice in song. All are welcome.
  • Friday, November 14, 2014, 10:00 am: Senior Chat- Mental Illness in Our Midst. Fireside Room of Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive
  • Sunday, November 16, 2014
    10:00 AM Worship and Sunday School:
    Alive in Creation: From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Part 3 of a 3 week series on Dan Buttry’s Blessed are the Peacemakers
  • Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 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 a ride.
  • Wednesday, November 19, 2014, noon: Baptists Lunching Together at Grand Lake Gardens, Oakland. This month’s program will feature Evelyn Hanneman, BPFNA Operations Coordinator, speaking on Burma and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. Lunch is $8.00. Please call Joan Thatcher at 510-350-7008 for reservations. Let Pastor Rick know if you would like a ride.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014: Women’s Brunch
  • Friday, November 21, 2014: Gratitude Potluck
  • Sunday, November 23, 2014: Hanging of the Greens
  • Monday, November 24, 2014: Deadline for December Spire
  • Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 7:30 pm: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 4111 Alma Street, Palo Alto

Preparing to Celebrate

Advent 2013Advent is a time of preparation. Like Lent before Easter, Advent is a time to get ready for the joyous celebration of Christmas. Christmas is much more than the sights, sounds and conspicuous consumption that have come to characterize the “Holiday Season.” Christmas is not that “Holiday Season.” Christmas is a celebration of God coming near in the form of a human infant. It is the soul of a sacred season in which incarnation of the holy is both remembered and experienced again as a living reality. It is a time for taking stock of our own lives; it is a time to consider what it would be to have Christ born in us once again.

In the best of all possible worlds, babies don’t come as a complete surprise. The birth is eagerly anticipated and the preceding days are filled with preparation for the coming child. Advent is that time of preparation for the birth of Christ. The ancient story says that the baby Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Even if Joseph had tried to phone ahead for reservations, the accommodations in first century Bethlehem would have been minimal and healthcare virtually nonexistent. The preparation for the birth of Jesus was apparently adequate, but clearly improvised. Now, all these centuries later, we need not improvise. The liturgical calendar allows us enough time to get ready for the birth as it comes around each year. We have time to prepare for the coming of Christ in this new church year.

In her beautiful Advent hymn, “People Look East,” Eleanor Farjeon encourages us to “Make your house fair as you are able, Trim the hearth and set the table. People, look east and sing today: Love, the guest, is on the way.” It is such a
magnificent way to describe what is about to happen, “Love the guest is on the way.” The King of Love is coming, is coming to your house, to your heart. What must you do to prepare?

Every year, the Spiridons host a lovely open house during this season for the whole congregation (as did Soo Kim and Doug Lee not long ago.) Putting on a party like that takes time and energy before the guests arrive. Preparations are
critical for the party to be a success.

For many years my former partner and I hosted a holiday open house for 150 people on a Sunday before Christmas. It was a joyous occasion. We loved having our home filled with family, friends and colleagues. But it took a lot to plan and prepare for the party. He would start early in December decorating the house from top to bottom, front to back, side to side. Over time I developed a menu of favorites that kept me busy in the kitchen. When the doorbell rang on the given Sunday afternoon the feast was on, but the whole thing would have been a disaster without preparation. The full affect, the desired outcome, the shared community, came into being because we spent a lot of time and energy preparing.

I know Advent preparation is not quite the same thing, but I also believe the parallel is there. The party was about joy and love – love for the people in our lives and the joy of sharing our home with them. Christmas is also about love
and joy, but a deeper love and grander joy than a good party. If we put that amount of our resource into planning a party, what would be needed to prepare for the Christ, the King of Love, the Savior of the World?

I know love and joy can be spontaneous, but in the seasons of the church year, the love and joy of Christmas call for preparation. I am very excited about Advent at FBCPA this year. Led by our intern, Naomi, we have been preparing
for this season for some time. Naomi, who interned this summer with Marcia McFee in her Worship Design Studio, brought creativity and grace to this process. We had a wonderful Advent to Epiphany Worship Brainstorming Party,
involving 20 members of the congregation preparing for our Advent/Christmas/Epiphany celebration. The theme for this season is drawn from the prophet Isaiah (2:3), “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of God….” There we will engage in building that house of God as a place where Christ might come and dwell with us, bringing peace and goodwill to all creation.

Starting Saturday, November 30 at 9:00 AM we will begin to build our house and make it ready by “Hanging the Greens” (decorating the sanctuary.) Then on Sunday, December 1, we will share the first of four worship services that
will help us to make our hearts ready as well. Preparations are in order; love the guest is on the way.

Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist (11/28)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Saturday, November 30, 9:00 AM: Hanging the Greens
    We will decorate the church for the Advent to Epiphany season. There will be activities for all ages. Coffee, juice, fruit, doughnuts for extra enticement. Help make our Advent to Epiphany Worship Brainstorming a technicolor reality.
  • Sunday, December 1,10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family
    Let Us Build a House where Love Can Dwell and Safely Live,” Pastor Tripp preaching.

    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation
    Moods of Christmas, from the writing of Howard Thurman, led by Pastor Rick.

  • Tuesday, December 3, 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 4, 8:00 AM: Men’s Breakfast
    at Hobee’s Restaurant, 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

Pastor Rick: November 21

We had a lovely time last Friday at our annual Gratitude Dinner.  Not only was the food delicious but we had a delightful time creating a collage of good things in the life of our congregation this year.  If you haven’t had a chance to see our collective “masterpiece,” it is on display in the church entryway.  Thanks to Pastor Tripp for organizing the program and to everyone who helped with the meal.

 Sunday was Stewardship Sunday, and again it was delightful to gather as a community to share further our gratitude to God for all we’ve been given.  It was very moving to hear people share things for which they were grateful un the life of our church this year.  Thanks to everyone who brought your pledge forms on Sunday.  If you have not returned yours, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.  This information is invaluable in budgeting and planning for the coming year.  It is also an opportunity to express tangibly the “abundant joy and overflowing generosity” that the gospel draws forth from each of us.

This Sunday is Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday.  It marks the end of the church’s liturgical calendar.  The next Sunday we begin a new liturgical year with Advent.  This year Advent does not arrive on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which gives a little more space to consider “Christ the King.”  What kind of king reigns as the “King of Love”?  What does it mean to give ourselves in allegiance to a reign of “truth”?  Sunday will be an intergenerational service as we celebrate the kingly Jesus as the whole community.

We also have a little more time to “Hang the Greens” this year.  I encourage everyone to stay after worship to help decorate the church for Advent and Christmas.  If you have visions in blue, white and gold (our Advent colors,) bring them along to share.  There is opportunity here for folk of all ages.  Once we are done decorating, we’ll gather around the tables for a simple lunch of soup, bread, fruit and cookies.

See you Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning, followed decorating and dining.  Invite a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join the celebration.  Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick