Note from Pastor Rick

Tomorrow evening the American Baptist Seminary of the West will present its annual Drexler lecture. This year the speaker is J. Brent Walker, the retiring Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty. This historic organization is supported by several Baptist groups and is a champion of real religious liberty in the USA, including the proper separation of church and state. Brent will speak on “Defending and Extending Religious Liberty for All: How Are We Doing?” I am honored to be one of the respondents along with Professor Abdullah Ali of Zaytuna College, a scholar in Islamic law and prophetic tradition.

The Spirit arrived on Sunday with colors and flame, with poppers and geese, with beautiful music and an appreciation of all things red. We also received the fruit of the Spirit as gift and challenge. Later that afternoon, Resounding Achord and the Carlmont High School Chamber Choir presented a splendid concert focused on compassion, justice, and the things that make for peace.

Which is the focus for this week’s worship. As Jesus came close to the end of his earthly life and ministry, he sat on the hillside and wept over the old city of Jerusalem. “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” He could foresee the destruction of the city that lay just  around the corner. So, what are the things that make for peace. Is it too late for us to learn them and practice them, or are we sowing the seeds of our own destruction? Isaiah presents a vision of the Holy Mountain that rises in the center of God’s Beloved Community. Here the Spirit blows wildly, wisdom flows freely and there is no longer hurt or destruction for creation is set right. Will we ever get there?

In Adult Spiritual Formation we will welcome Geoff Browning, United Campus Christian Minister at Stanford and some of the students who went to Nicaragua on a good will trip this spring. He will also share news of the Stanford Peace and Justice Initiative. UCCM is a mission project of FBCPA. Both Charlotte Jackson and Pastor Gregory currently sit on its board.

Come join us for any or all of these opportunities Sunday, starting at 10:00 AM. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us as we explore the things that make for peace.

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

Pastor Rick

Pentecost and Peace

13-05-22.pentecost_banner.fwAfter a “peace-filled” Mother’s Day, we turn our attention to Pentecost. This Sunday everyone is encouraged to wear red (or orange or yellow,) symbolic of the flames of Pentecost, and our custom. Because Pentecost coincides with Peace Month this year, we are not using the traditional Pentecost texts. We are looking at what happens in our lives, after the Spirit comes, that moves us more toward peacemaking. Psalm 85 speaks of peace and righteousness kissing; Galatians lists peace as one of the “fruits of the Spirit”; and we find Jesus’ first followers living together in peace and harmony, caring for each others daily needs. What can we learn from these ancient texts about living more peacefully on this planet, aided by the breath of the Spirit?

In Adult Spiritual Formation, we will spend time considering the theme for this year’s Baptist Peace Camp, When Did We See You in Prison? Breaking Social and Structural Injustice. Many of us believe that the criminal justice system in this country is long overdue for reform, given harsh sentencing, overcrowded conditions, and racial injustice, among other issues. How can we practice peacemaking in regard to the prison reality in our land?

Sunday afternoon, the fine community choir, “Resounding Achord,” will present a concert in our sanctuary. I highlight this not only because the artistic director is my niece, Kristina Nakagawa, but also because the concert focuses on songs about “social injustice, oppression, resolution, and peace.” They will be performing a couple of spirituals, as well as the Cherokee version of Amazing Grace, which they used to heal their wounds, and a two-chorus arrangement of “Weeping,” a story about arms proliferation and peace, which is a mash up with the South African National Anthem. The Carlmont High School Chamber Singers will be guests, singing “Matthew” — a heart-wrenching choral work in memory of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Wyoming for being gay. So, you see, the concert fits right in with Peace Month.

Come join us for any or all of these opportunities Sunday, starting at 10:00 AM. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us as we explore the things that make for peace.

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

Pastor Rick

This Month at First Baptist (May 2016)

  • CalendarFBC BIBLE STUDY is held on Tuesdays at 10:30 AM at the Terraces of Los Altos at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos. Let Pastor Rick know if you need transportation.
  • MEDITATION GROUP, Every Wednesday at 10:30 AM, led by Charlotte Jackson, at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.
  • MEN’S BREAKFAST, Every first and third Wednesday at 8:30 AM, at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.
  • QUARTERLY BUSINESS MEETING, Sunday, May 1st, 11:30 PM, Parlor.
  • CONGREGATIONAL LIFE TASK MEETING, Friday, May 6th, 1 PM, Parlor.
  • CHURCH WORK DAY, Saturday, May 14th, First Baptist Church.
  • FINANCE MEETING, Sunday, May 15th, 12:30 PM, Parlor.
  • CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING, Sunday, May 15th, 7 PM, Parlor.
  • WOMEN’S BRUNCH, Thursday, May 26th, 11:30 AM, at Dinah’s Poolside Restaurant, 4261 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join in.


  • HUNTINGTON’S SUPPORT GROUP, Tuesday, May 10th, 7 PM, Parlor.
  • RESOUNDING ACHORD Concert, Sunday, May 15th, 2 PM, Sanctuary.

The Senior Connections events in May are:

The PRIME TIMERS Concert Series at First Presbyterian is May 10th. This month features the Music for Woodwind Quintet, featuring flutist Jenny Hunt. Brown bag lunch first, followed by the concert. 1140 Cowper Street, Palo Alto (650-325-5659)

The Book Club at First Baptist is May 19th in the church Parlor. This month we will be reading and discussing GHETTO: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, by Mitchell Duneier. The author traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the sixteenth century and its revival by the Nazis to the present. As Duneier shows, we cannot understand the entanglements of race, poverty, and place in America today without recalling the history of the ghetto in Europe. Brown Bag Lunch (beverage will be provided). 305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto (650-327-0561)

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

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