Archive for Shelter-in-place

Advent Study Week 4

Be Transformed this Advent Season!

In Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas, best-selling author Adam Hamilton examines the names of Christ used by the gospel writers, exploring the historical and personal significance of his birth.

A small group at the church is studying this book for Advent. We want to share the experience with others. Each week we will post questions from the previous study so you can follow along. Our prayer is that you’re able to find joy in this Advent Season in a time of uncertainty.

Blessings,
San Jose First UMC

Incarnation Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas book art

WEEK FOUR

Question 1:

“John records that Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). … This is the point of Christmas. It is the celebration of light piercing our darkness, God’s light coming to us to enlighten our lives. We need not fear that we will stumble or become lost because we are no longer trying to find our way in the dark; we have the light of Christ by which we walk.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 130)

What Advent and Christmas celebrations most meaningfully convey to you God’s light “piercing our darkness,” and why?

Question 2:

“While Christians often speak about the Bible as the Word of God, the Word of God in its most decisive and definitive form came to us not as a book, but as a person. Jesus is God’s self-disclosure, God’s revelation of himself to humanity. God’s Word was incarnate in Jesus. All other words about God, everything else we read in scripture, must be read in the light of the Word of God that is Jesus. He incarnates the wisdom, reasoning, mind, and heart of God.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 134)

When has thinking about Jesus as the Word of God helped you understand other “words about God”?

Question 3:

We are God’s plan for changing the world. Let that soak in. … We are not just passive recipients of God’s love and grace. As we become children of the light, we cannot keep that light within ourselves. It is meant to spill out from us naturally and touch the lives of others. And every time it does, the light extends just a little farther, the darkness recedes bit by bit, the kingdom of God expands, and the world is changed.

“God sent Jesus to launch a revolution of the heart that ultimately leads us to take his light into the world. And how do we do that? It starts with watchfulness—paying attention to see where someone needs our support or our assistance.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 140-141)

How are you paying attention to the places and people to whom you can carry Christ’s light this Christmas?

Advent Study Week 3

Be Transformed this Advent Season!

In Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas, best-selling author Adam Hamilton examines the names of Christ used by the gospel writers, exploring the historical and personal significance of his birth.

A small group at the church is studying this book for Advent. We want to share the experience with others. Each week we will post questions from the previous study so you can follow along. Our prayer is that you’re able to find joy in this Advent Season in a time of uncertainty.

Blessings,
San Jose First UMC

Incarnation Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas book art

WEEK THREE

Question 1:

“I do not believe that God sent the coronavirus, but I do believe he is with us in the midst of this pandemic, doing what God always does—comforting, leading, consoling, and wringing good from the adversity and pain. There will be plenty of silver linings from this frightening turn of events. Even now, in the midst of the pandemic, the world has changed in so many ways for the better. There is tragedy and death, but there is life, hope, goodness, and love.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 90)

Where are you noticing God “wringing good” from the pain of the ongoing pandemic?

Question 2:

“This is what we mean when we speak of the Incarnation: God took on flesh and entered our world as a human being. It is clear in scripture that Jesus is not merely God wrapped in human flesh—God in a body. He became human in Jesus. He experienced what we experience as humans. In Jesus, God experienced temptation, love, hunger, joy, fear, friendship, grief, doubt, rejection, a sense of abandonment by God, and death. He wept, he bled, he suffered, he died. There is something profoundly moving about God actually knowing what we are experiencing as humans.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 102)

When was a time you found special meaning and comfort in God having become human in Jesus Christ?

Question 3:

“Matthew begins his Gospel telling us that Jesus is ‘God with us’—Emmanuel. At the end of his Gospel, he recounts Jesus’s final words to his disciples, ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). It is not just that God was with us in Jesus, but that Jesus continues to be with us. He is still Emmanuel. And because I believe he is with me, I live differently; I have peace, I find strength, I live seeking to walk with him.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 109)

How do you live differently because Jesus was and continues to be “Emmanuel”?

Advent Study Week 2

Be Transformed this Advent Season!

In Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas, best-selling author Adam Hamilton examines the names of Christ used by the gospel writers, exploring the historical and personal significance of his birth.

A small group at the church is studying this book for Advent. We want to share the experience with others. Each week we will post questions from the previous study so you can follow along. Our prayer is that you’re able to find joy in this Advent Season in a time of uncertainty.

Blessings,
San Jose First UMC

Incarnation Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas book art

WEEK TWO

Question 1:

“I’m reminded of someone who once said to me, ‘Why do Christians spend so much time talking about sin?’ For some people, it feels like sin is the only thing they hear about in church. I want to be clear: if all you ever hear about in church on Sunday is sin, you’re probably in the wrong church. But if you never hear about sin in church, you may also be at the wrong church. The good news of Jesus is not that we’re sinners, but that he is our Savior. But we can’t appreciate his role as Savior if we don’t know we need to be saved.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (pages 51–52)

How would you respond to someone who asked, “Why do Christians spend so much time talking about sin?”

Question 2:

“My experience, after forty-two years of being a Christian and attempting to walk with Christ daily, is that I am still tempted to think, say, or do things God does not intend. But when I turn to Christ, I sense his strength, his help, and his deliverance. He has transformed, and is transforming, my inner desires. We call this sanctification—the process by which the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and minds so that we become the people God intended us to be.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 59)

When was a time you were aware of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in your life?

Question 3:

“Love came down at Christmas to a stable in Bethlehem, to two poor parents and a handful of night-shift shepherds. That love would be evident in the way he healed the sick, forgave sinners, welcomed children, fed the hungry, and cared for his disciples. But nowhere was that love more clearly seen than on the cross as he hung there, saying, ‘This much. God loves you this much.’”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (pages 75-76)

Who has shared the message of God’s love for you in an especially meaningful way?

Advent Study Week 1

Be Transformed this Advent Season!

His parents gave him the name Jesus. But the prophets, the shepherds, the wise men, and the angels addressed him by other names. They called him Lord, Messiah, Savior, Emmanuel, Light of the World, and Word Made Flesh.

In Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas, best-selling author Adam Hamilton examines the names of Christ used by the gospel writers, exploring the historical and personal significance of his birth.

This Advent season church families will come together to remember what’s important. In the face of uncertainty and conflict, Christians reclaim the Christ Child who brings us together, heals our hearts, and calls us to bring light into the darkness.

Now more than ever, we invite you to reflect upon the significance of the Christ-child for our lives and world today!

A small group at the church is studying this book for Advent. We want to share the experience with others. Each week we will post questions from the previous study so you can follow along. Our prayer is that you’re able to find joy in this Advent Season in a time of uncertainty.

Blessings,
San Jose First UMC

Incarnation Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas book art

WEEK ONE

Question 1:

“This season puts into perspective all our political wrangling. … While our politics have divided us, Advent should bring us together, uniting us around the newborn King and his life, message, ministry, death, and resurrection. … Advent beckons all who consider themselves Christians—regardless of whether they are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or Independents—to come to the stable and there fall on our knees as the shepherds surely did, yielding our allegiance, our hearts, and our will to the newborn King.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (pages 17–18)

How are you experiencing unity among Christians, despite their political differences, this Advent?

Question 2:

“We live in that period between the triumph of Easter and Christ’s triumphant return when he makes all things new. We see a world where suffering still occurs, where darkness seems to reign, where the kingdoms of this world seem to have the upper hand. We continue to live as followers of the King whose kingdom is not of this world, but breaking into this world through his followers—through us.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (page 38)

How do you believe Jesus’s kingdom is breaking into this world through your community of faith?

Question 3:

“Today, nearly a third of the world’s population claims Jesus as their King. Far more have been influenced by the things he taught, the values he espoused, the life he lived. I don’t believe it is an overstatement to say that he is the single most influential person to have walked this planet. For those who count him as King, as I do, we awaken each day recognizing that our highest allegiance, our deepest devotion, and our greatest commitment is not to country or political party or even to family, but to Jesus the Christ, our King, whose kingdom is the climax of human history.”
— Adam Hamilton, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (pages 38–39)

What do you consider the most significant measure of Jesus’s influence on the world?

Sermon Audio October 18

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

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Sermon Audio October 11

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

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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