Archive for From the Pastors

Día de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos is a tradition and cultural celebration.

In Mexico and other Latin countries these events happen on November 2. It’s the time the families honor their relatives who have passed away. They make an altar for themselves and they put flowers, pictures, religious objects and favorite foods the relatives liked. It is a sad day for them. This is very special ritual since it is the day in which the living remember their departed relatives. Sometimes, when people of other cultures hear for the first time about the celebration of the Day of the Dead, they mistakenly think it must be: gruesome, terrifying, scary, ugly, and sad. Nothing is further from the truth. Day of the Dead is a beautiful ritual in which Mexicans happily and lovingly remember their loved relatives that have died. Much like when we go to a graveyard to leave some lovely flowers on a tomb of a relative.

I give thanks to the church for opening the doors for other cultures, to find a place to grieve and honor their families. Please welcome them and enjoy the time together with them. This is the time to introduce our church and the American culture to them. If you want to participate please feel free to do so. If you have questions, please feel free to ask me.

There will be light refreshments after the service.

—Gerardo Vazquez

Meet our new transitional pastor, the Rev. Renée Rico

Dear Members and Friends of San Jose First,

This is my first week with all of you as your new transitional pastor. The boxes arrived last week, and so far I’m about half-way through unpacking in the office. I’ve met some but not all of the staff here, last night I met with the VLT, and I’ll be leading worship and preaching this Sunday. Please come this Sunday if you are in town as we start this new chapter together!

I know that your tradition does not typically use interim or transitional pastors, so I would guess there are at least a few questions about my role with all of you through next June. Let me give you some idea of what I am about as a transitional leader.

1. Pastor.  I am around to do the usual things that pastors do – preach, teach, visit the sick, coordinate staff and committees. I am your pastor during this time, and do all of the regular pastor-like things – from baptisms to weddings to visiting folks in the hospital.

2. Consultant.  Particularly when I first arrive, I am new enough to ask the question, “Why do you do it that way?”  I see things from an outsider’s point of view, and can give some ways of looking at the congregation that might not have been considered.  We will look at a variety of things in the church in the coming months, and together ponder questions like: Who are we as a people of God? Who are our neighbors? What is God calling us to be and do?

3. Coach.  As we identify the work that is being considered for our time together, I play the role of a coach in helping staff, committees and other groups.

4. Transformational Leader. As I play the above roles, I will asking the question of us all, “How might we more fully become the people of God here and now?”

Of course, this time, I am not alone in this work – as we also have the Rev. Kristie Olah also working at 1/8th time during this period. Kristie and I are working out exactly how we will do this work together, but I am confident that she and I will be good partners during this transitional time.

One thing I want to be really clear about – we work in partnership on all of these areas. This will not be Kristie and I telling all of you what you should be doing. First, that would be highly presumptuous of us to do, and second, I am confident that by doing spiritual work to align our hearts with God, we can be led by the Spirit into fruitful ways of living as disciples of Christ.

Finally, I come to you as someone from the Presbyterian tradition who has great respect for the Methodist ways. I served two years ago as the interim pastor at First UMC Vallejo, and in that process learned that we are cousins in the greater tradition of Christ. I celebrate with you and will encourage you to live more deeply into the ways that your tradition offers.

My planned schedule for now is to work Sunday through Thursday, with my day off on Friday. I haven’t figured out yet exactly what my office vs. outside time will be. But to reach me, you can call 408-294-7254 ext. 201 or contact me via email at

Friends, I look forward to our work together!

Blessings and light,

Renée Rico