Archive for Shelter-in-place

Sermon Audio October 18

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Jeffrey D. Hall entitled: Living Icons

Sermon Audio

Sermon Audio October 11

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Jeffrey D. Hall entitled: The Grace of Remembering

Sermon Audio

What Happened to the Glasses?

He who is generous prospers;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25, NIV

On behalf of the CRISTO VIVE CHURCH I bring you the warmest thanks for the donations of your glasses. The recipients know that all of you kept them for some sentimental reason or to give them a better use. But we know that God’s plans are different from ours and those glasses had to reach a new owner who needed them. In Mexico–and especially in El Maguey–people have very low-incomes, and there is no way to purchase glasses. The frames are very expensive, and people prefer to buy food to eat.

People of El Maguey receive eye glasses donations

Adults over 40 years of age often begin to have problems with their vision. For example, they struggle to read the instructions on medicine bottles. Also, there are many children who do not have good vision, which results in difficulties learning at school. And there are some people who never know if they need glasses, since they have never had an eye exam.

Well, thanks to your generosity and solidarity, a suitcase full of glasses arrived for the community of El Maguey. Many children and adults have benefited by receiving them. I plan to share some photos so you can know what happened. You will enjoy seeing the happy face of a child who received his glasses. When he noticed the difference in his new view of the world, his face lit up! God has blessed you for your noble gesture.

Blessings
Pastor. Gerardo Vazquez-Padilla

Pastor’s Note October 5

Dear Friends,

Transform the World cityscape and globe

October is the time of year many United Methodist Churches offer more focused attention on the practice of Stewardship. Since 1847, loving and committed people like you at SJ First have labored for Christ and given generously in order to accomplish the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And, since 1910, you have continued to strive to be a bold witness in the downtown area for peace, justice, outreach, and inclusion on the corner of Fifth and Santa Clara. I am thankful Bishop Carcaño appointed me to serve a congregation with such a long history.

Due to COVID-19, much has changed in the world since I was appointed to serve you and the San Jose community July 1, 2019. I could not have imagined church the way it is today and, if I’m being honest, I have been slower than others to adapt. Pastoral transitions can be difficult enough, never mind throwing in a life-threatening pandemic within the first year. I want to thank you for being patient with me as I have struggled to learn how to minister in new and different ways during these rather unprecedented times.

While much has changed in the world, particularly since March, one thing has not changed; namely, the mission of the Church. We commit to persevere, to carry on, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to feed the hungry, to forgive, to resist evil in all its forms, and to love our neighbors as ourselves with a resolve, a conviction, an unwavering trust in Christ’s promise that not even the Gates of Hades will prevail against us.

For 173 years, SJ First United Methodist Church has engaged in ministries that try to make a real difference in the lives of real people. Along with your prayers, your presence, your service, and your witness, your financial support grounded in the faithfulness of God is essential in order to continue making a difference in our community and world.

As good stewards, it’s important during this last quarter we remain faithful and give as we are able in order to meet our 2020 budget. I know God will lead each one of us to give generously in response to the many blessings in our lives like so many saints of SJ First have done since 1847.

Checks may be mailed to the church office and made out to “First United Methodist Church at San Jose” or “FUMCASJ” or “FUMCatSJ”.

STEWARDSHIP PRAYER

God, my Creator,
you made me all that I am
and gave me all that I have.
Help me show my gratitude
by using these gifts
to serve others in your name.

Jesus, my Redeemer,
you taught me the way to eternal life
by your example of loving service to others.
Grant me the courage to respond
to your Call to Discipleship
by following in your footsteps.

Holy Spirit, my Sustainer
be with me as I choose each day
to put you first in my life.
Let me be a model of Christian Stewardship
so others will come
to know you through my actions.

I pray, dear Lord,
you open the minds and hearts
of all the men, women
and young people of our church,
that we may joyfully accept your
challenge to be good stewards.

Amen.

Grace and Peace,
Jeffrey

Sermon Audio October 4

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Jeffrey D. Hall entitled: God’s Vineyard

Sermon Audio

Sermon Audio September 27

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Jeffrey D. Hall entitled: The Way of Humility

Sermon Audio

Pastor Gerardo’s Message from El Maguey

Whoever is generous will be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.
Proverbs 22:9

May the blessings of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am writing here to thank you for your help with the El Maguey community during these difficult times caused by the pandemic. In mid-June I approached Susan to ask if there were still funds from the last mission trip to El Maguey. When I heard funds were still available I then spoke at the next VLT meeting, to see if it was possible to send the remaining funds to El Maguey for the members of Cristo Vive. The response surprised me when the Methodist Women’s group raised their hands to offer help by giving $4000! In addition to this generous gift, the group, as well as members of the congregation, continue to donate.

Viewing photographs of the long lines of people outside my house waiting to receive a grocery bag, one can see that women, men, and their children have relied on this help. Seeing so many needy people made my heart begin to fret, and something told me that I had to go to El Maguey. My purpose was not only to deliver groceries, but to encourage the people and to pray for them. I felt that they needed to be fed spiritually, and I wanted to bring them the greetings of the Methodist women and the members of San José First Church and to show the generosity that is in their hearts. They needed to know that in the United States of America there are people who care about them. In spite of the warnings against traveling in times of a pandemic, I felt the responsibility to go to Mexico.

On August 19 of this year, Cristo Vive completed 13 years of service to the community. The leaders of Cristo Vive and I decided to make the biggest presentation to honor God for the anniversary. There was an attendance of more than 1,200 people including children, the elderly, and the disabled outside my house. That day we passed out 327 bags of groceries to families. We also provided salads, snacks and drinks to everybody. I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough food for so many people; however, as it turned out, we had plenty.

It was already 7:30 PM when I arrived at the front of the crowd to give my message and instructions. When I looked at the group of 300 children staring at me, my legs began to shake as they looked at me so intently. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit watching me doing what He himself planned for El Maguey. I want to tell you that the blessings that came out of your hearts for the people of El Maguey were multiplied by God. He multiplies them in return, since all the people benefited from the aid you provided. These families bless you for your noble gesture of love for your neighbor.

May God bless you,
Pastor Gerardo Vázquez

Pastor’s Note September 19

Dear Friends,

As you read this Pastor’s Note, we will have just celebrated the 172nd Annual Conference Session of the California Nevada Conference. I hope and trust you found time over the past four days to watch the various sessions and worship services. I am grateful for our San Jose First Lay Members to Annual Conference, Ellen Shaner and Horacio Lopez, and I know they will have much to share about their experience of Annual Conference with our congregation.

I am so very thankful for our Episcopal Leader, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, who presided over our first Virtual Annual Conference Session with skill, adaptability, and grace. I have the privilege to serve as Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and, therefore, have occasion to witness firsthand her leadership.

I have come to value and deeply respect Pastor Gerardo’s ministry as a transformational leader, and so it was with pride (the good kind) and a privilege to make a motion on behalf of the Board during the Clergy Session to approve him under the category of Local Pastors approved and appointed to serve in a full time appointment. We are blessed with another year of his presence and ministry at San Jose First.

Throughout the Annual Conference Session, I was inspired by the many gifted people who spoke about Black Lives Matter. I am grateful our Bishop and Conference leadership provided the necessary prominent platform to prophetically speak to the sin of racism and the hope of Christ Jesus to heal us and make us whole in our church, community, and nation. As a congregation, beginning Monday, October 5, we will start a 5-week study on the book, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, written by Drew G. Hart. I am looking forward to leading that study very much and believe we have at least 10 or 11 people who have signed up.

Sunday morning, I will drive to Sacramento to be present for the in- person Service of Commissioning, Ordination, and Recognition of Orders. Safety protocols have been established and will be followed. It is wonderful that you all will gather by ZOOM at 10:00 for fellowship and prayer and then view the Service in Sacramento via livestream. This is a tremendous moment not only for those being Commissioned, Ordained, and Recognized, but also for the annual conference as a whole. I know you will be praying for me, our Bishop, and for that very special service as I will be praying for you.

Monday, September 21, I will drive roughly 7 hours to Crescent City, located close to the Oregon border, in order to represent the Board of Ordained Ministry and assist Bishop Carcaño who will commission a candidate who could not be present for the Service in Sacramento on Sunday due to health considerations. In the hope of “catching my breath,” I will stay up in that area for a few days and return Thursday. I should still have access to WIFI, although it may be spotty, and so I plan to be present for the VLT Meeting and Pastor Check-in on Wednesday.

I would like to end this note with a poem that was shared by Retiring Deacon, Diana Bohn, at Annual Conference. The poem is written by Bonaro Overstreet. It did my heart good, and I thought perhaps we might carry it with us for a season. The poem is titled:

Stubborn Ounces
(To one who doubts the worth of doing anything if you can’t do everything)
You say the little efforts that I make
will do no good; they will never prevail
to tip the hovering scale
where Justice hangs in the balance.
I don’t think I ever thought they would. But I am prejudiced beyond debate
in favor of my right to choose which side shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.

Grace and Peace, Jeffrey

Sermon Audio September 13

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Jeffrey D. Hall entitled: A Way Through

Sermon Audio September 6

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Jeffrey D. Hall entitled: A Few Words from Paul