Note from Pastor Rick (6/15/2017)

We had a terrific Youth Sunday. Thanks to Pastor Gregory, the children and youth for leading us. Again, congratulations to our graduates and best wishes to all our kids moving up a grade. We pray a wonderful summer for all of them as well as for school teachers and staff.

The theme for this Sunday is a timely word – Compassion. With all the mean spirited talk and behavior, not to mention the violence going on all around us every day, there needs to be space for more compassion. Matthew writes of Jesus, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). It’s not surprising to note that some of us may feel this lost these days. But Jesus’ solution is to send the disciples out to provide comfort and care, courage and well-being for the people who made up those crowds. We, too, are tasked with a ministry of compassion in Jesus name.

This week, after worship, we will have our long-awaited first cookout of the season. This one is in honor of Father’s Day. Bring your hat, your appetite and salad, side or dessert to share. Bring someone else to share the day with you.

Remember, our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.
Pastor Rick

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This Week at First Baptist (5/31/17)

  • CalendarThursday, June 1, 7:30 PM: Choir Rehearsal in the Parlor
  • Sunday, June 4: Pentecost Sunday
    10:00 AM, Worship for the whole Family with Communion:
    Pentecost, Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; John 7:37-39; 20:19-23; Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, Rick Mixon. Remember to wear red (or orange or yellow or some combination to represent the “tongues of fire” associated with Pentecost.)11:15 AM: Patio Hour Everyone is invited to gather on the Patio after Worship for refreshments and community time. A sign-up sheet for hosting this summer event is posted in the Church Entryway.
  • Sunday, June 4, 12:15 PM: Lunch Bunch: Amber Indian Restaurant, 600 West El Camino Real, Mountain View. Please let Melanie Ramirez or Alan Plessinger know if you will be attending.
  • Tuesday, June 6, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane #4204, Los Altos.
  • Wednesday, June 7, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Bill’s Cafe, 3163 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.
  • Wednesday, June 7, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Eileen Conover’s home, 1075 Space Park Way #217, Mountain View.

Looking ahead:

  • Sunday, June 11: Youth Sunday. Our children and youth will lead us in Worship and we will honor graduates. If someone close to you, family member or friend, is graduating, please let us know.
  • Sunday, June 11, 11:15 AM: Patio Hour. Everyone is invited to gather on the Patio after Worship for refreshments and community time. A sign-up sheet for hosting this summer event is posted in the Church Entryway.
  • Monday, June 12, 7:00 PM: Church Council, in the Parlor.

Youth Sunday Reflection by Clara Ramirez

Clara RamirezYOUTH SUNDAY REFLECTION
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Clara Ramirez

Good morning everyone. I want to start off by talking about my experience at graduation from Los Altos High School. It was really interesting to watch graduation for three years prior to my own when I played in the graduation band every year. I thought about what it would be like when I was one day up there in the stands waiting to graduate. It was pretty much the same as being in my performance band except from a different angle. There was so much expectant energy from the audience and also from the people sitting around me. Yesterday I felt proud and accomplished. I was very satisfied with the work I have done in high school.

I am not very good at remembering exact ages for my memories at First Baptist Church, but I remember many little snippets of happiness during my years here. For me, a big part of coming to church is about enjoying the company of others.

I remember Jamie and David Shi from Sunday school. I was probably about 6 or 7 when they were with us. I remember appreciating the things they had to say, even at my young age. I felt comfortable in their presence. We all learned from the “crazy lady”, I’m sorry I don’t remember her name. She taught us great music and even invited us to summer camp at Cantabile music camp in Los Altos. Maybe this is where I started to have a love of classical music and performing. A love I continue to have to this day.

I remember Daniel Ha when he was he was really little. He was very energetic and talkative. I think when we are Sunday school now he has some really good ideas… when he feels like sharing. He really contributes to the conversations and makes me think. The conversations that we have in Sunday school stay with me for longer than just the hour that we are together. This is a valuable, positive part of my time at church.

One particular Sunday I remember is when we were asked to write, “God is here” on a rock. I didn’t want to do it so I didn’t. I think I felt that I didn’t want to write “God is here” in letters because for me a rock just by itself is enough to feel the presence of something. Looking at any rock made me feel like “nature” is here, not “god”. I have a very deep connection with the earth and nature so I didn’t feel like the letters saying “god” were necessary.

I want to show you this rock. We have this special rock that sits in our living room, a rock we got from Lake Tahoe. When I touch it, it’s cold and makes me think of the fresh air and open skies, pine trees and snow melted water. Having this rock makes me think of the possibility that there could be more than one word to say what most people would use the word “God” to represent. That word is nature. I used to feel that the wind was a spirit, breathing into you, making you feel refreshed. That to me was a type of natural experience that could be equated with what some say is the spirit of god.

I feel comfortable saying to you that I do not use the word “God” because I trust you all. Having grown up in this church gives me the confidence to freely express my opinions.

Being comfortable in the presence of others is important to me because I know I can be who I am and be accepted. I have always felt accepted here with this church family. Thank you for that.

I wonder if my experience will be different now as I am getting older. Will I learn new things? Will I get closer to the other adults in the church? What are the adult’s visions of church? How do they do church? Do you just listen to Rick all morning? Will I be able to use the word God more easily in my future? Maybe God already knows about my word choice and doesn’t care.

Thank you to the church for always bringing me happy snippets of good memories and for making me think. I am excited for the experiences that are to come.

Youth Sunday

Rev. Rick MixonThis coming Sunday is Youth Sunday at FBCPA. Doug and our children and youth have been working on a wonderful service in the spirit of Pentecost. The theme is “Alive in the Spirit: Dreams and Visions. Doug will be preaching, Clara Ramirez, graduating from high school will offer a reflection and we will celebrate Communion. This is a great opportunity for us to support our remarkable children and youth as well as Doug Davidson and Elizabeth Ramirez who work with them faithfully. We will also recognize those who are making transitions from one level of education to another.

Though it appears we will not be giving a scholarship this year, I still encourage you to give as generously as you can to the special offering for the Granholm Scholarship Fund. Building up that fund so that we have resources to give scholarship as needed in the future is very important. Thanks to Laura Garcia who has made a generous donation to the fund in memory of her sister, Janice.

If anyone is interested in going with me to the PCBA Spring Conference in Alameda please let me know as soon as possible. I will also give a plug for The Choral Project Concert in our Sanctuary Friday night at 8:00 PM. I think you will find the music will be moving and fun. Remember children and youth can come free if they obtain passes.

In Adult Spiritual Formation, we continue with the series, “Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Earth.” The videos are challenging and informative and our discussions have been spirited as usual. This week we will look at an “Evolutionary Christianity” as we consider what it means for us a followers of Christ to live into an “evolutionary paradigm” rather than a static one in terms of how we see and understand the world.

Please plan to be here by 10:00 AM for worship and Sunday School, followed by Adult Spiritual Formation.

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

Pastor Rick

Finding My Way (June 1, 2014)

sermonsFINDING MY WAY

A sermon preached by Oscar Ramirez
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, June 1, 2014

Religion has always been a part of my life. As it is with most people, religion was forced upon me as a child. I don’t remember much about the town’s cathedral Mexico, since I was younger than four years old, except for the way the concrete building gradually grew taller from the entrance towards the enormous sculpture of Jesus with his crown of thorns and nailed hands and feet. I remember the stain glass windows, and the way the entrance was always filled with people trying to listen in to what the preacher says. In Mexico, Eighty two percent of people affiliate themselves with the Catholic church so it was no surprise that my entire family had saints around the house, baptized all their children shortly after birth and all that.

However upon moving into the United States, It was more than just a change in entire culture but it was a change in religion as well. My family looked for a Catholic church around Mountain View and found a church on Rengstorff near the train tracks. Honestly, I didn’t like it. The church was so dim and the church leaders after the service were so self absorbed and gave this sort of holier-than-thou attitude. Everything was so strict and uncomfortable to me. I didn’t like the fact that only certain kids were allowed to be with the priest. It was as if I had to be extra special to or extra loved by god to be able to be with the father. The church’s father was a good person though, naturally. He would individually bless me and my family afterwards.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m seven years old. I’ve visited this church many times before but at this age, I started attending regularly due to Faithzone Thursdays that my cousins invited me to join. I don’t know if it was because I had a chance to spend Sundays with my cousins but I liked being in this church. Maybe it was Sunday school where I felt bible study was more personalized to me.

As I grew older I saw that I was having a religion identity crisis. I didn’t know whether to identify myself as Catholic or Baptist. In my teenage years, I began to take on Baptist as my primary religious identity. I remember as my friends, mostly Hispanic ones, when we get into the topic of Catholicism asked me what religion I was. They’d ask me, “Are you Catholic or Christian?” I’d chuckle at what they’re saying and I’d try to explain that Catholics are Christians. I’d tell them that all people who follow Jesus’ teaching are Christian and in the 16th century a reformation occurred that split Catholics from Protestants. Therefore, I’d tell them, “If you are a Catholic, you’re a Christian.” But instead of listening and taking in my reason, most were more appalled at the fact that I called them Christian if they were Catholic and others were appalled at the fact that Catholicism was under the same category of Christianity.

My generation is the most technologically connected in history. The information of all that has ever existed and all up-to-date news of everything that is happening every second is in the palm of my hand. Most of us use it to watch cat videos or argue with people. But it’s also a gateway to infinite knowledge and it’s producing all of this sort of negative image of Christianity in internet message boards and social media. It’s sort of a trend among youth to be atheist. And like most trends people tend to over generalize things and often times make their mind up before even look into it a little bit like this gluten free trend that has been going around. On the internet they end up often ridiculing many Christian beliefs like the impossibility of fitting every animal in Noah’s ark or that the fact that we believe in some cosmic Jewish zombie that can make us live forever if we symbolically eat his flesh. Superficial things like that. Some atheists think that Christians are crazy because they’d rather believe in creationism instead of evolution and a talking snake. Then there’s the extreme Christians like those of the Westboro Church who give our religion a name especially in the internet, by their infamous demonstrations saying that God hates certain people. Living in a world where all these different thoughts about beliefs attacking one another made it sort of difficult to say “Hey I believe in Jesus. But hey I’m also cool” since it wasn’t really a cool thing to go to church.

I felt that I was born into this religion and I was genuinely interested in the teachings of Jesus. I felt that I had to do something about it. In a world selfishness and intolerance, I wanted to teach people around me by exemplifying the right way to treat people by showing compassion and understanding with a peaceful attitude. I wanted to change the notions of what Christians are in the eye of the world. I saw that times were changing and I knew that churches had to change as well in some form.  But I didn’t know how to go about it. I felt very much as Timothy must have felt when Paul left him in Ephesus. The apostle had written to Timothy, telling him to train the pastors and elders of the church there. Timothy had been given a very difficult task. By this time he was in his mid-30’s, having spent fifteen years traveling with the apostle all through the Roman Empire. Back in those days, you were not considered to be over the hill until you got to forty at least, and that is why Paul tells Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth.” But it was a difficult situation, because Timothy had to minister with men who had already been elders of the church in Ephesus for a number of years. Timothy was expected to correct some things that were going on in the church. That was a tough assignment for a young man. Timothy had to know how to go about it in a way that would not arouse anger and opposition of others. There are two things the apostle tells Timothy to do and both are highlighted by two similar-sounding words, the monosyllables, let, and set: “Let no one despise your youth, but set a good example before them.” When Paul says, “Let no one despise your youth,” he does not mean, of course, that Timothy is to go around and pick a fight with anybody who does not like him. He means, rather, that Timothy is to be concerned about and aware of how he comes across to people; he is to be sensitive to how others see him.

So the question is how is how am I supposed to act so I can set an example and so that people would be willing to listen to me. According to Timothy one should be, first of all, loving. Not arrogant, not rude, cruel or sharp in either word or deed. And he must be faithful to his commitments, not using insincere words, not being irresponsible, unreliable and breaking promises. But most importantly, one has to have integrity and be consistent in other words, it’s good that they can talk the talk but they also have to walk the walk. And this doesn’t end with me. We should all teach people how to live by the word through example.

I’ve always treated people with respect since that was the right way to treat people but these last couple of years I’ve been doing it with a different purpose behind it. As you may know, I am moving on to a different stage in my life. A different book in my series but yet written by the same author. Nevertheless, I am in a new setting. I will be a young adult facing the world with the duty of spreading the teachings of Jesus through example. I want to make a change in some sort of way and I don’t see a better way of doing that than in a church like this one that allows for different innovative ideas like allowing me to speak to you in this way. I am prepared mentally and spiritually thanks to my parents but also thanks to this church for helping in cultivating my spirituality. Being so in so involved in church made me feel like I was closer to the word of God. and I feel like that’s a good thing. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist so I think I’m heading in the right direction.

I’d like to say a final Prayer, Lord, we thank you for the power of your Word; the most powerful force in all the universe is the Word of truth. We pray that we may give heed to it, believe it, accept it, live by it, walk in it, work by it, let it change our lives to be the men and women you want us to be in this generation. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Young People and Renewal at FBCPA

iSing GirlchoirI love the fact that this is a place that welcomes and embraces young people. As I mentioned last week, we hosted concerts for the Silicon Valley Boychoir and iSing Silicon Valley Girlchoir at the same time we have the ongoing presence of the New Mozart School for Music. The building is often crawling with kids. I want to tell you that the Girlchoir concerts Friday and Saturday were terrific. Not only were the concerts musically excellent, the leadership and teaching of Jennah Delp-Somers and Shane Troll is remarkable. This program has become a real asset not only to our church but to the cultural life of Silicon Valley.

And speaking of assets, our own children and youth will be leading us in worship Sunday. This is the first time in the years I’ve been here that we’ve done something quite like this. Pastor Tripp and Doug have been working with the kids this spring on the topic of baptism. Now they have created a worship service in which we will be “Remembering Our Baptisms” along with them. I am especially pleased that Oscar Ramirez, who is graduating soon from Los Altos High and heading off to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, will be bringing the Reflection on the Word. I am looking forward to what he has to share with us. You will surely want to be present for this gift from our children and youth. By the way, they are also hosting the fellowship time after worship.

Following the service, we will hold the Special Business Meeting to take action on the Renewal Proposal, brought to us by the Renewal Task Team through the Church Council.   I am sure you are all aware of the process this proposal has been through. We came to you originally with a great candidate for the proposed new pastoral position, but in the end she was not available. At our Quarterly Business Meeting in April we brought you a revision of the proposal that removes references to a specific candidate and proposes the creation of a search process for a new candidate. We invited and have been open to talking with anyone in the congregation prior to Sunday’s meeting. I hope you have taken advantage of this invitation if you continue to have questions or concerns. I am hopeful that we have come to the place where we can embrace this proposal and move forward in a timely manner.   I also continue to pray that God will sustain and guide us as we look to God’s future for us.

So plan to be here at 10:00 AM for Youth Sunday and then stay for this very important business meeting.

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

Pastor Rick