This Week at First Baptist (5/28)

  • CalendarThursday, May 29, 2014, 7:30 pm: Church Choir in the Parlor.
  • Sunday, June 1, 2014: Children and Youth Sunday

    10:00 AM,Worship for the whole family: This will be a special day in the life of our congregation. The children and youth of the church will lead us in worship. Graduating high school senior, Oscar Ramirez will be our preacher. Together we will remember what it means to be baptized and how that shapes how we live in the world.

    11:30 AM, Special Business Meeting to take action on the Renewal Proposal. If you have questions or concerns about the revised Renewal Proposal, we want to hear from you so that we can be in conversation before the special business meeting on June 1 to vote on the Proposal. You may contact Pastor Rick, Carolyn or any member of the Task Team or Council.

  • Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 10:30 AM: Bible Studyat the Terracesof 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, June 4, 2014, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

 LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Friday June 6, 2014, 6:00 PM: All Church Cookout to celebrate Pastor Tripp and his ministry with us. Hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, condiments, beverage and dessert furnished. Please bring salads and side dishes to share.
  • Sunday, June 8, Pentecost, 10:00 AM, Worship for the whole family: Pastor Tripp preaching. This will be Pastor Tripp’s last Sunday as our Minister of Faith Formation and Family Life. We will celebrate his ministry and wish him well in his new role as Director of Admissions for the American Baptist Seminary of the West. Everyone is invited to wear something red to honor the day.
  • Sunday, June 8th, 15th and 22nd, 11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation
    Canon, Scripture, and Word Of God.
    Corinna Guerrero
    will address each of the above concepts. We start off with a little church history, but end in a call to advocacy. We hope you’ll join us.

Back from Maine

Ocean at Ogunquit, ME
Ocean at Ogunquit, Maine

Thanks to Pastor Tripp and everyone else who helped cover for me while I was gone last week. I had a good trip to Maine. The annual gathering of the Alliance of Baptists was excellent. The focus was on racial and economic justice. We had outstanding leadership from Bill Kondrath, Marie Onwubuariri, Curtiss Paul DeYoung and Osagyefo Sekou as well as outstanding music, workshops and community time. The rest of the week was taken up by a board meeting of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. It was a challenging meeting but we got a lot of good work done. At the end of the week, we had a important conversation with the leadership of the ABC-USA, which holds some promise for a different future for lgbtq people in the life of our denomination. On Thursday I had a free day, which I spent in the charming seaside village of Ogunquit, ME.

Thanks to Doug for doing such a fine job with the service and his sermon. We have been blessed to have him as our intern this year. This Sunday we will continue to look at the two little letters attributed to Peter, found at the back of the New Testament. As I said a couple of weeks ago, in contrast to Paul’s sometimes chiding epistles, Peter’s seem to be an exercise in appreciative inquiry. He is out to encourage and build up small churches that are struggling to survive in the face of increasing persecution. Sunday’s focus will be on what is probably the most familiar passage from these letters, the one in which he lifts them up as a chosen people, a royal priesthood moving from the shadows into God’s redeeming light.

I hope you will all be here at 10 AM on Sunday for worship and then stay for Adult Spiritual Formation as Pastor Tripp continues the series, Life on the Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, based on the book by Philip Kenneson. This week’s focus will be “Cultivating Joy in the Midst of Manufactured Desire.”

And remember if you have questions or concerns about the revised Renewal Proposal, we want to hear from you so that we can be in conversation before the special business meeting on June 1 to vote on the Proposal. You may contact me, Carolyn, or any member of the Task Team or Council.

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

Pastor Rick        

Transience and welcoming

Mixon MusesWhen I was at First Baptist Church of Granville, I would occasionally hear people rue the transience in the congregation. At times, it seemed as if people were constantly coming and going. I’m not sure how constant the turn‐over was but there was enough for people to comment on. Of course, this is a phenomenon to be expected in a college town. Students definitely come and go, but so do faculty and staff. Transience is a fact of life. It has nothing to do with how well (or how poorly) a church is functioning. It just happens, especially in our very mobile world in which people frequently find themselves moving on – to a new school, to a new career, to a new job, to a new relationship, to a “new” retirement.

For some who remain, it is a struggle not to feel responsible. This is clearly not a logical response but it can be a deeply emotional one. What did we do wrong? What might we have done differently or better? Why don’t they want to stay with us? Surely, one of the psychological links is to the way in which we respond to loss of any kind. There is always a sense in which each loss is a little death and we need time and ritual for saying good‐bye and letting go.

Every good‐bye, every moving on, with its inherent sense of loss, also changes the make‐up of the comuunity. We are, minimally, the sum of our parts (though I believe we are much more.) Still, when a member of our community moves on, they leave a hole in the whole that fits their unique personality and contribution to community life. It’s not that those holes can’t be filled in some way or another, but we will not look or feel exactly the same. So, we must learn to live with, to embrace new and even shifting shapes to our community.

I suppose I am pursuing this theme today because we are facing some significant transience. We said farewell to Joanne Jones last Sunday. Soon we will say good‐bye to Pastor Tripp and not long after Oscar Ramirez will go away to college. That’s a lot to process. Even though this is a university town, we don’t experience as much transience as a small college town like Granville. Joanne Jones only stuck around for 57 years before moving into retirement. Fred Hillier came as a Stanford student and stayed 50 years. We have a number of folks in our community who have been here 50 years or more, so the loss has the particular flavor of all those many years shared. It is different from losing someone who has been in the community for only 3 or 4 years, though those losses carry their own grief with their own depth.

In a small congregation these transitions can be felt acutely. What will we do without…? What will become of us? Can we go on? When I first wrestled with this phenomenon in Granville, I came up with this image – church as way station. It may be that a vital aspect of our ministry is to be here, faithful and steady, to serve those who pass through. It is not unlike the great Benedictine tradition begun in the Middle Ages to provide hospitality to travelers. As it was for those nomadic people in biblical times who wandered the desert from oasis to oasis, the Benedictines and others recognized hospitality, especially to
the transient, as essential to both the life of the body and that of the soul as people passed through. It may be that God has put us here precisely so that we might offer a welcome, a respite to weary travelers of every sort.

I used this quotation from Henri Nouwen in a recent Midweek Message. It goes with the wonderful Emmaus Road story that is a frequent text for the Sunday after Easter. Nouwen writes, “I have many memories of encounters with people who made my heart burn but whom I did not invite into my home…It is one of the characteristics of our contemporary society that encounters, good as they may be, don’t become deep relationships. Thus our life is filled with good advice, helpful ideas, wonderful perspectives, but they are simply added to the many other ideas and perspectives and so leave us ‘uncommitted.’ In a society with such information overload, even the most significant encounters can be reduced to ‘something interesting’  among many other interesting things. Only with an invitation to ‘come and stay with me’ can an interesting encounter develop into a transforming relationship.”

We are a people willing to invite others into our “home.” Come and stay with us. Be our guest. Stay as long as you need or want. We are delighted to share what we have with you – whether you stay 3 years or 57. As God’s Easter people, we want to be in the business of transforming relationships. Of course, transformation often means we can’t hold on – to traditions, to expectations, to people. We have to let go and let God…let God be our guardian, guide and stay. We’re a little way station, a small boat on a large sea, a limited community but we serve a God who is big enough to see us through, a Christ who shows us the way, a Spirit that gives us power to be and do what is asked of us. We are not without resource and the ministry we provide is important. Even in times of tough transition, let’s not lose sight of that.
Pastor Rick

 

Rooted in Steadfast Love

Doug DavidsonThe first half of my nine‐month internship here at First Baptist Church of Palo Alto has been a wonderful opportunity for me to “try on” the role of pastor for the first time in a congregational setting. Pastor Rick is a wise, caring, and supportive leader to learn from, and I’ve benefited greatly from working alongside Tripp and Naomi, both of whom bring great insight, experience, and passion to their work. I have deeply valued having the opportunity to involve myself in the life of this vibrant community‐‐to participate in the planning and leading of worship on a weekly basis, to lead the Adult Spiritual Formation class from time to time, to work with the youth, and to meet with the various leadership teams that shape the life of our congregation.

On my very first Sunday with you back in September, our church celebrated its 120th anniversary. It was obvious to me that day that this congregation takes a lot of pride in its long history of active ministry in this community. And it’s been clear to me in the months since then that God is still active in our midst, as we consider what new ways we might respond to the Spirit’s leading.

Our Scriptures tell the story of a God who becomes known in the unfolding of the history of a particular community of believers. The Israelites told and retold the tales of God’s activity in their midst. By remembering God’s liberating work in their past, they were empowered to confront the challenges and struggles that faced them in the present. In Psalm 136, the community recounts particular moments of God’s presence among them. And with the recalling of each event, both the highs and the lows, the same refrain is repeated: “God’s steadfast love endures forever.”

I’m grateful to be connected with a church that has such an amazing heritage. And I believe the future is bright for First Baptist Church of Palo Alto. As a congregation, you have recognized the need to find new ways to enliven your ministry in the changing context of Palo Alto today. Even as I look forward to exploring other facets of my own ministry during my second semester with you, I look forward to seeing how the mission of this church will continue to unfold. How comforting to know that the God who has brought us this far will strengthen and sustain us through the next chapter of our journey. “O Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever ” (Ps. 136:1).

‐‐Doug Davidson