Note from Pastor Rick (12/21/2016)

Thanks to everyone who helped make last Sunday a warm “family” gathering in worship and community. Special thanks to Jan for her gifts of music and all who helped with the brunch. After a week of rehearsals and concerts, it is nice to feel a slightly slower pace this week. However, I did make a run put to EHP today and the pace is definitely not slow there. I was moved to see Nevida Butler in her jeans and sweatshirt marshaling the forces in the food pantry. (Isn’t she supposed to be retired?!?!) There were people everywhere, serving and being served. In our comfort and privilege, let us never forget that there are others of our “family” in need, some in desperate need. I know EHP could use more toys and gifts/gift cards for teens, as well as warm clothes in these cold days, if you have the time and inclination. There is an ongoing collection site right outside my office door. Remember it is precisely to meet the needs of all creation, physical as well as spiritual, that God comes close to share our reality and set things right. Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (12/21/2016)

Senior Connections

Senior ConnectionsThis is a new program for seniors involving First Baptist, First and Covenant Presbyterian and University AME Zion. We will be offering two events for seniors (50+) this month:

  • The Second Tuesday (November 10) is the PRIME TIMERS CONCERT at First Presbyterian. This month features the Salzedo-Rubenstein family, with Jonathan on the harpsichord, Marion on the recorder, and Laura on the violin, performing trios by Bach, Vivaldi, and Telemann. Brown bag lunch first, followed by concert.

1140 Cowper Street, Palo Alto


  • The Third Thursday (November 19) will be a book club at First Baptist. This month’s book is When I Was a Child I Read Books, by Marilynne Robinson, a volume of essays on the charged political and social climate in this country, the role of generosity in Christian faith, and the nature of individualism and the myth of the American West.

Brown Bag Lunch (beverage will be provided).

305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto


All sessions will begin at Noon and will conclude by 1:30.

Anyone from our faith communities is invited and encouraged to participate.

Baroque Concert September 12

musicnotesPalo Alto Philharmonic Baroque Concert

The Palo Alto Philharmonic kicks off its 28th anniversary season with its annual concert of Baroque Music, organized by Music Director Thomas Shoebothan, with selected soloists and small ensembles performing a delightful array of music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

8:00 pm Saturday, September 12, 2015
First Baptist Church
305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto

Tickets are $22 general; $18 seniors; $10 students. Available at or at the box office the evening of the performance (cash or check only).


  • Johann Sebastian Bach-
    Orchestral Suite No. 2 for Flute & Strings in B minor (BWV 1067)
  • Domenico Scarlatti-
    Keyboard Sonatas K. 141 & K. 417
  • Henry Purcell-
    Sonata for Trumpet and Strings in D Major
  • Giovanni Gabrielli (arr. J. F. Tailard)-
    Canzon Pian’e Forte
  • Giovanni Battista Buonamente-
    Sonata from Sonate et Canzoni, Libro Sesto
  • Archangelo Corelli-
    Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op. 6 No. 4
  • François Couperin-
    Treiziéme Concert à 2 instruments de basse
  • George Phillip Telemann-
    Canonic Sonata #2 in G Major


Senior Connections

This is a new program for seniors involving First Baptist, First and Covenant Presbyterian and University AME Zion. We will be offering three events for seniors (50+) each month:

  • The Second Tuesday will be at First Presbyterian and will feature a music program.
  • The Third Thursday will be a book club at First Baptist.
  • The Fourth Wednesday will be at Covenant and feature a variety of presentations of specific interest to seniors.

Anyone from our faith communities is invited and encouraged to participate.

All sessions will begin at Noon and will conclude by 1:30:

  • Tuesday, September 8, Noon, Concert.
    Brown Bag Lunch.
    This concert will feature Bay Area percussionist James Deitz who will perform solo works by Sierra, Lauridsen, Reich, Deitz, & Aperghis. James is an accomplished musician with degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Yale School of Music. He has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and at Carnegie Hall and presently teaches at the Pacific Union College and plays for the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear a great musician on a variety of percussion instruments!
    First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper Street, Palo Alto

  • Thursday, September 17, Noon, Book Club.
    Brown Bag Lunch (beverage will be provided).
    At our first meeting, we will create a booklist for the rest of the year. Come prepared with your suggestions for books you’ve been wanting to read. Invite your friends and neighbors.
    First Baptist Church, 305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto

  • Tuesday, September 22, Noon, Musical Memories.
    Lunch Provided.
    John Lehman, creator of Senior New Ways, leads the program.
    Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto

Thanks to Dona; Fourth Sunday of Advent

Three candlesAnother full week in the life of FBCPA. On Friday, the final Senior Chat was held at Covenant Presbyterian Church, followed by a luncheon co-hosted by Covenant and us to say thank you to Dona Smith-Powers for eight plus years of leadership of this program. We shared our gratitude for all she has given.

On Saturday, in our sanctuary, we held a moving memorial service for Virginia Herbert. Until her death, just shy of her 96th birthday, Virginia was our oldest member. Virginia was a remarkable woman, school teacher, mother and social organizer. Her circle of friends and former students is large. There will be another celebration of her life later in the spring when more of these folks can gather to share their rich memories. We will surely miss her. Thanks to everyone who helped with the service and lovely reception afterwards.

Sunday we finished our brief spiritual journey into the theme, “Be Born in Us Today,” by considering the ancient practice of examen, in which we ask ourselves on a regular basis, “Where did I feel God’s presence in my life today?” and “When Did I experience God as being absent?” These are key questions for a growing spiritual consciousness. In the afternoon, a group of intrepid carolers went to the Terraces to sing for some of the folk there. Afterward we gathered back at the church for chili supper. Thanks to Eleanor, Melanie Ramirez and Thelma Tuttle for making the delicious meal happen.

This Sunday, the fourth in Advent, we conclude our celebration of singers and songs of the season. We will have an augmented choir with voices from the Choral Project plus several regular guest musicians. We will all sing our songs as well. The sermon title is “Angelic Airs and Earthy Echoes,” in which we look once more to the heavenly choir and the shepherds’ shock. You’ve heard the word before of this most surprising experience. The announcement comes to the poor and outcast, the lowest of the low – “It’s to you we bring the glad tidings. It’s for you the Messiah comes. Let there be peace and good will for all on this earth.”

After worship we will gather in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Christmas brunch. Everyone is asked to bring finger food to share. Why don’t you bring some guests as well? It will be a great day. See you Sunday at 10:00 AM

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

Pastor Rick

Not Without a Song (4/27/2014)


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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9

When I was a teenager, maybe 15 or 16, Boise, Idaho, got an exciting new radio station, one that featured what were billed as “light classics.” For a young musical snob this was a very significant and exciting addition to the local scene. It seems to me the beginning of this radio station coincided with the advent of the transistor radio, which allowed you to carry your music with you everywhere.

One of my favorite singers, whom I first encountered by way of this radio station, was the wonderful American baritone, Earl Wrightson. He must have been a favorite of the station’s program manager because his deep, rich voice was heard often on the station. Among the Wrightson interpretations that flowed forth from my tiny radio was the late 1920s Vincent Youmans tune, “Without a Song.” It was written originally for a Broadway show as a kind of stylized work song, like “Old Man River.” The original lyrics referred to “darkies” though that term was expunged from later renditions. Anyway, the song made a big impression on me – for the beauty of the Youmans tune, for the strength of Wrightson’s interpretation and for the powerful sentiment of the lyrics –

Without a song the day would never end
Without a song the road would never bend
When things go wrong a man ain’t got a friend
Without a song

That field of corn would never see a plow
That field of corn would be deserted now
A man is born but he’s no good no how
Without a song

I got my trouble and woe but, sure as I know, the Jordan will roll
And I’ll get along as long as a song, strong in my soul

I’ll never know what makes the rain to fall
I’ll never know what makes that grass so tall
I only know there ain’t no love at all
Without a song

No friends, no good, no love, none at all, not without a song! In some sense I believe this is true. I hope I’ve learned to be less snobbish about music. There is such an amazing variety of musical tradition and style to inspire us and shape us, to move us and shake us. Over and over again the song carries us along, gives voice to what we could never say without the music, lifts us up and gives us wings to soar above the exigencies of daily life – the good, the bad and the indifferent. We know that spirituals helped get bound folk through the evils of American slavery and freedom songs carried South Africans through the bitter oppression of apartheid. We have marched into battle on the strength of patriotic songs and fallen on our knees to sing our prayers for peace. Many a lovers’ pact has been sealed with a song and, of course, what would worship be without music. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul encourages his readers to “be filled with the Spirit,as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20).

A woman ain’t got a friend, a man is no good, I only know there ain’t no love at all without a song. Oh yes, “I got my trouble and woe but, sure as I know, the Jordan will roll and I’ll get along as long as a song, strong in my soul.” The writer of First Peter understands this. Addressing a group of young churches spread throughout Asia Minor, he is committed to bringing them a word of hope that will sustain them through challenging times, including threats of persecution for their faith. Here the song is hope and it is one of rejoicing. “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This writer must have been a student of appreciative inquiry. There is beautiful, affirming imagery in this blessing that opens the letter. The genuineness of one’s faith is more precious than gold, gold which by the way is typically refined by fire. In the darkness of the night, in the face of adversity, under the burden of oppression, when pain seems unbearable that song of faith will carry us through and bring us to joy.

As an Easter people we are blessed by God who “has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A new birth into a living hope! What is the song of hope that we receive as a result of the resurrection? It is surely hope for a better day to come but it is also a hope that lives with us and shapes our lives in the here and now. Robert Hamerton-Kelly writes of this passage “…ordinary hope for this world must always be modest and pragmatic, the arena of neither pessimism nor optimism but of sober perseverance.” But, “…what is ‘living hope?’” He says “It is simply the living Jesus present to us after his resurrection and available to our faith, to which he gives the grace of a supernaturally based hope. This supernatural grace of living hope anchors our lives in heaven and thus enables us to persevere and from time to time even to triumph amidst all the failures of ordinary hope and all the fragments of broken dreams.  We endure as those who see the living Christ and know that he rose from the dead, and for that reason no longer fear death. Without the fear of death we feel as if we had been born again into a new world of living hope” (Robert Hamerton-Kelly, “A Living Hope” quoted in Paul Neuchterlein, Second Sunday of Easter, Year A,

Perhaps it is challenging, as well as liberating, to claim for yourself this song of living hope, but isn’t that where our faith leads us, to a place where resurrection reality becomes operational in our own lives? There is always more to which we can look forward, always more possible – more good, more friends, more light, more love, more life, yes, even life that carries us beyond death.

But not without a song will we make this journey. I have always loved Robert Lowry’s song, “My Life Flows On,” that sings the story this way:

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging;
Since love is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

“I only know there ain’t no love at all without a song.” Not without a song will we be able to make this journey through life. Not without a song will we know living hope. Not without a song will we sustain our faith, returning to God in the fullness of time. Not without a song will we make any difference in this world, because our song is death denied and love made real. And this is our song, that love is Lord of Heav’n and earth. How can we keep from singing?