Note from Pastor Rick (4/13/2017)

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of Holy Week. I hope you are finding time to contemplate the significance of the week in preparing us for Easter. Tonight we will hold our annual soup supper with Communion around the tables, commemorating Maundy Thursday. This will be a simple meal and service for the whole family. Friday, our sanctuary will be open from 12:00 to 3:00 PM for prayer and meditation. We will have available prayers and readings to assist you in your time of reflecting. Due to a scheduling glitch, we have to do the set up for Easter Brunch on Sunday morning. If you can come at 9:00 AM to help (or, if you can, stay afterward to help with clean up) that would be appreciated.

As I contemplate Easter in the crazy context of the world we currently inhabit, I have been thinking about the aftermath of the Resurrection. That is, we come together to celebrate, as well we should, the joy of Easter, when God, in Christ, said a resounding “No” to death and “Yes” to life. If that is our core belief, then how are we to live our lives in a post-Easter world? What difference did it make in the lives of those first women who found the empty tomb, and then all Christ’s followers, confronted with the astounding reality that “He is risen, indeed”? What difference does it make for us? We continue to grow into people who, in the face of every joy and every concern, every triumph and every tragedy, can still say a great “Yes!” to life and to the Giver of Life.

See you Sunday at 10 AM, if not before. There is no better time to invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join us for joyful Worship for the Whole Family and a delicious Easter brunch. We will have child care and an Easter Egg Hunt for little ones. Please remember to bring cut flowers for the flower cross and finger food to share at brunch.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (4/6/2017)

The end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week is fast approaching. Sunday we will join together to celebrate both Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and all the challenging events of the week that followed, culminating in Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial. This is the ancient flow of drama and travail that leads to the joy of Easter. If we take the time to focus, to meditate on this tale of Christ’s passion, perhaps Easter will dawn all the more glorious. In worship, we will continue our practice of dividing the service between Palms and Passion. Both are important as we look toward Easter. Please plan to arrive on time or a little early this week. Not only would it be good discipline for many of us, but will also give you the opportunity to join in the blessing and procession of palms, which will begin on the outside steps of the sanctuary at 10:00 AM

Stay after worship for Adult Spiritual Formation in which we will delve more deeply into Matthew’s version of this great drama that moves from Palm Sunday to Easter. J. S. Bach found enough material in these texts to compose a magnificent 3 hour choral work. Presumably, we will find enough here to fill an hour. Maybe we will even listen to a bit of Bach’s masterpiece.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship for the Whole Family and Adult Spiritual Formation. This would be a great day to bring someone along with you to share joys and challenges of the ancient, familiar story.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Holy Week: Death and Life

easter_cross.fwIt is the middle of Holy Week and with it comes that sad news of the death today of Dr. Paul Martin, President of the American Baptist Seminary of the West. Paul led the school through some difficult times with grace, good humor and a big heart. He will be sorely missed. We will keep his family and the seminary community in our prayers in this challenging time. I will personally miss his good humored teasing and the warmth of his welcome.

Tomorrow night I invite you all to attend a simple soup supper and Maundy Thursday Communion Service in the Parlor. In this service we will extinguish the last of the Tenebrae candles as we anticipate the pervasive darkness of Good Friday. On Friday,  from Noon to 3:00 PM, we will open the Sanctuary for prayer and mediation. We will have resources on which you may reflect as well as contemplative music playing. You may also choose to walk the labyrinth as you recall the events and power of Christ’s passion.

Saturday morning at 10:00 AM we will gather to prepare the Fellowship Hall and Sanctuary for the Easter celebration. Don’t forget to bring blossoms for the flower cross on Sunday. As always, Jan has planned extra music for Easter. We will have several people helping out the choir as well as Daniel Ramirez on saxophone and Daniel Ramirez on cello. I want to alert you that worship will begin at 10:00 AM. The welcome and announcements will not come until later in the service.

The service will begin in the “darkness” of that first early morning when Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb to grieve, only to find the sealing stone rolled away and the grave empty. She was at a loss. She didn’t know what to make of it and rushed off to tell the others what had happened. As we confront the empty tomb we, too, are left to wonder what to make of it all.  What does Easter and Resurrection mean to you? How would you tell the story and to whom?  What have we learned from walking in the darkness that will help us walk in the emerging light of an Easter dawn?

After worship, we will hold our annual Easter Egg hunt for children and brunch for everyone. Please bring finger food to share. Come Sunday morning at 10:00 AM for reflection on and celebration of the new life that is offered in Jesus, the Christ. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us in the joy of this Easter Sunday.

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

Pastor Rick

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 is coming…

LentThanks to Greg Griffey for bringing the Word last Sunday. I very much appreciated his insight into the “Conversion of Paul” story and the importance of connecting to the “other.” This Sunday we will return to a story from Genesis. This ancient tale of Abram bargaining with God involves a time when falls into a sort of terrifying asleep and yet, in the darkness, he is reassured by God that God is with him and will keep the covenant they have made.

Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter are rapidly approaching. March 20 we will have a Palm/Passion service, beginning with a procession of palms, and ending at the foot of the cross. Maundy Thursday we will have a simple soup supper and Communion around the tables. Friday the Sanctuary will be open from 12 noon to 3:00 with recorded music and reflective reading available. You might even walk the Labyrinth as you recall the events and significance of that ancient Friday when Christ was crucified. Easter will begin in quiet and darkness as it must have been on the first Easter morning as Mary made her way to the tomb. Of course there will be plenty of music and celebration of the Resurrection, and we will hold our annual brunch in the Fellowship Hall afterwards with all of us bringing finger food to share. I look forward to sharing this sacred season with you.

In Adult Spiritual Formation this Sunday, we will pick up where we left off in the video series, Saving Jesus Redux: Who Was Jesus? This well-done video series has generated good questions and lively discussion among those who gather for our Sunday class. Everyone is invited to join in.

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

easter_cross.fwThis is Holy Week with all the events and remembrance it brings annually. You can see here our schedule for the week. We will share a simple soup supper and Communion on Thursday night. Friday our sanctuary will be open for prayer and meditation from 12 to 3 PM. You may also choose to walk the labyrinth at that time. 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? Baptists, for whom Lent has not always been a part of our tradition, have the opportunity to learn the value of Lenten practice, particularly the commemoration of Good Friday. Winn Collier, pastor of All Souls Church (a Baptist congregation ) 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.”

And on Sunday we will celebrate Easter in all its colorful glory. We will begin with the tender green blade that pushes its way through spring’s thawing ground and end with glorious expressions of reclaimed “Alleluias” in celebration of the Resurrection. The women find the tomb empty on that first morning and soon enough the shouts of “He is risen!” will circle the globe.

Come at 6:00 PM on Thursday for supper and Communion. Spend some time Friday afternoon in our sanctuary. Then be here at 10:00 AM on Sunday for worship and stay for the egg hunt and brunch. What better time to bring others along to share in the life of our community?

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.

Pastor Rick  

Congregational Care Ministry

coffeeCoffee Hosts provide Sunday Morning hospitality

During the months of January and February we wish to thank all these gracious hosts for providing refreshments for our Coffee Hour each Sunday morning following our Worship Service.

Lois Ville and Nana Spiridon, Melanie Ramirez, Our Youth guided by Doug Davidson (Please remember those Chicken Nuggets.), Thelma Tuttle, Carolyn Shepard, Jane Chin, Chip Clark, and members of Congregational Life task team.

Hospitality opportunities during Lent:

In addition to Sunday morning Coffee Time we will enjoy gathering together for a Soup Supper on Maundy Thursday, April 2, at 6 PM, and celebrating together at an Easter Brunch following Worship on Sunday, April 5.

Please consider offering to be a Host on a Sunday Morning during Lent or during Holy Week. Join Laura Garcia and Alan Plessinger who have each offered to assist or to host a Sunday morning in early March. Later Sundays and events in Holy Week are in need of hosts. Won’t you consider being a host or an assistant? If your answer is, YES, please be in touch with Lois Ville or a member of Congregational Life Task Team.

All who are interested will be welcome at our next Congregational Life meeting, Friday, March 13, at 2 pm, in the Church Parlor.

Eleanor Satterlee, task team member

Lent: A Journey with Jesus

candleringThe seasons cycle round and once more we find ourselves in the season of Lent. For forty days our focus will be directed toward the longing and pain of Christ’s Passion, the harsh reality of the Crucifixion and the life giving promise of Easter. We’ve considered before the ancient Lenten practice of giving something up during this season to help sharpen our focus and move us more deeply into the events we remember through these forty days. And we recognize that sometimes that “giving up’ can seem routine or punitive. I don’t think either of these qualities are to be desired as part of our Lenten practice.

In the Ash Wednesday service in recent years, we have turned to the lovely old hymn that urges drawing “near to the heart of God.” As we look for-ward to walking the road with Jesus, moving inexorably toward Jerusalem and all that will take place there, we sing,

Oh Jesus, blest redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

It is this holy heart of God from which we come and to which we long to re-turn. Though this journey with Jesus moves surely toward all that Holy Week holds, the good and the bad, the ugly and the glorious, it also carries us beyond into the center of what it means to be God’s people, a people always wanting our lives to be held in the heart of God.

If giving up something helps lighten your load so that it’s easier to make the journey, by all means do so. Let go of anything and everything that blocks the way to that place of “quiet rest,” of “comfort sweet,” of “full release,” of “joy and peace” found near the heart of God. I’m sure many of us carry more burdens than we need to do as we wend our way through life. Learning to travel light is good spiritual discipline and serves the Lenten season well.

But it may also be that there are things we need to take on in new or more in-tentional ways. To pray, to contemplate, to sit in silence, to seek out the wonders of God in the world around us, to help another along the way. These and other disciplines also may help to sharpen our focus and move us closer to God’s heart. One of the things we are learning in the classes I am teaching this spring is the importance for pastoral counselors and caregivers to pay attention to cultivating spiritual disciplines in order to make our practice of care more meaningful.

Above all, Lent is a time to pay attention to those things, those elements, those practices which help or hinder us on our journey. Give up chocolate or meat or Facebook or anything that you sense may be blocking your way, if you be-lieve that will truly bring you nearer the heart of God. Set aside regular time for prayer, meditation, silence, reading, helping, if you believe that those prac-tices will move you more surely along the path to the heart of God.

Wait, watch, walk with Jesus. What is it he lets go of, turns his back on, fore-goes as he moves along? What are his disciplines, his practices, his commit-ments as he walks the road laid out before him? What might we learn from his walk and his walking with us that moves us along the road laid out before us? Using Brian McLaren’s, We Make the Road by Walking, we will use texts from the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5, 6 and 7 – as a scriptural guide. What better place to observe Jesus at work for the Beloved Community of God.

Sometimes it may seem that we walk the lonesome valley by ourselves for no one else can walk it for us and sometimes we take the hand of our neighbor, our journey partner, our beloved and walk the road together in blessed company. However we travel through this Lenten season, may it lead us ever nearer the heart of God.

Yours on the journey,
Pastor Rick

Holy Week at FBC

palm branchesWe are planning a different sort of service for Sunday in which we will commemorate both Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week and his witness through the week, trial and Crucifixion.  We will treat it as a series of dramatic events being reported for the first time.  This is an intergenerational service and will involve our children and youth.  The music will include the procession of palms and reflections on the cross.  There will be no sermon per se.  Please invite a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger or three to join us in worship as we remember this most eventful time in the life of the Christ.

Later in the week, we will celebrate a simple meal and communion around the tables on Maundy Thursday and Friday the sanctuary will be open from noon to 3:00 PM for prayer and meditation.  You are invited to walk the labyrinth as part of your reflection on the significance of the Crucifixion.

In Adult Spiritual Formation this Sunday we will continue our consideration of hunger as a Lenten concern.  If you have had experiences of dealing with hunger and the hungry over the past few weeks, please be ready to share those.  We will also consider some common “experiment” around hunger (a la Mark Scandrette) in which we might engage as a congregation.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for worship with an invitation to stay for Adult Spiritual Formation.

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

Pastor Rick

Holy Week

meditation_table.fwJust a note to say thank you for allowing me to be with my family last week at the time of my brother-in-law’s death.  It was very meaningful for our family to be together.  I presided over a committal service and a memorial service while in Boise.  Our entire family is grateful for your concern, prayers, cards, emails and calls.  You are a caring and generous congregation.

Now once more we have come to Holy Week.  In cooperation with Covenant Presbyterian Church, we are offering a number of opportunities to worship and commemorate this blessed time that leads toward Easter.  Tomorrow night we will host the Maundy Thursday service with a simple soup supper, Communion around the tables and a visit to some of the “stations of the cross.”  Friday night, Covenant will host a lovely an d moving service of Tenebrae, which includes a reading of the Passion account from Luke’s gospel interspersed with music, prayer and an extinguishing of the light, as we recall the Crucifixion and its aftermath.  Saturday, Covenant will host an Easter Celebration for Children of the community to which we are invited.  We can also use a number of helpers on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM to set up for the brunch and get the church ready for Easter.

And then Easter Day itself!  As we find again our alleluias, we will gather for Sunrise worship in the bowl in Mitchell Park (where we held joint worship last summer.) Dress warmly to greet the Easter dawn.  This will be followed by a pancake breakfast at Covenant.  Then at 10:00 AM we will gather at First Baptist to celebrate Easter in music, prayer and proclamation, followed by an Easter Egg Hunt and our annual Easter Brunch, for which we are all encouraged to bring finger food to share.

This is a beautiful, intense, and ultimately joyful time in the life of the Church and in the life of our congregation.  I hope to see you – as well as your families, friends, colleagues, neighbors and anyone else you might ask to come along – at any and all of these events.

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

Pastor Rick