Archive for Worship

Special Services During the Advent Season

Longest Night Service

Monday, December 17, 7:00pm

Let us gather, just a few nights shy of the Longest Night of the year, in quiet song, peaceful prayer, and silent meditation. Not everyone feels all HO HO HO at Christmastime. For many of us, this season especially can bring melancholy, sadness, depression. By coming together in a thoughtful and meditative service that meets us where we are — not where everyone says we should be — we are reminded that God loves us and is with us no matter how we feel. Invite those in your life that might need this calm, but hopeful, service.


La Posada

Thursday, December 20

At 6:00pm we will gather at Wesley UMC for a light snack and presentation of prayer before we begin the walk to San Jose First at 6:30pm. The service at San Jose First will start at 7:00pm. After the service dinner will be provided by San Jose First. Wesley UMC will provide dessert.

Please join us as we celebrate this Latin American tradition.


Christmas Eve

Monday, December 24

Message: Into This World: Light in a Time of Darkness
Scripture: Luke 2:1-14, John 1:1-5

Come share in special music, carols, juBELLation choir, and candles as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. At this service we will be looking at how we are called to be the messengers of light. What might God be doing in us and with us to share light with those around us? Or it might be a season where we need others to help us see the light of God – how might we surround ourselves with those fellow journeyers who can walk with us in grace?

Advent Begins: Into This World

God does an unexpected thing – God sends a son into this world to show the world the joy, peace, hope, and love that God has for the world. In this story, we find the unexpected treasures of grace, connection with God, and light for our journeys in this world. Jesus comes as the long-expected savior, but he comes not as a king, but a humble one from a small town, a place where the forgotten gather, the margins of a world where the powerful will be upended and the lowly will find their recompense. In a time of transition for San Jose First UMC, what about this journey into this world provides guidance for our future? What hope/peace/joy/love/light is God birthing among us today?

December 2: First Sunday of Advent
Into This World: Hope in a Time of Despair
Matthew 24:36-44, Isaiah 2:1-15
God’s people are asked to hope when all the reality says that things can’t change, that things won’t change. God calls to us to live differently, to live as agents of hope against powers that say that the things are the way that they are.

December 9: Second Sunday of Advent / Bilingual Worship
Into This World: Peace in a Time of Unrest
Isaiah 11:1-10, Matthew 3:2-12
We will look at what it means to have shalom – that’s the Hebrew word that we translate as “peace.” It’s much more than a concept of living without war. A shalom community offers up an alternative vision to what the world offers– a place and rule of equity and concern for all people. This is a vision that is worth working for – a way of living that is deep and connected.

December 16: Third Sunday of Advent
Into This World: Joy in the Face of Cynicism
Luke 1:45b-55, Isaiah 35:1-10
In a time when those at the bottom seem to be in for more shaming by those who have too much wealth and power, the Word of God coming to look at, no, not just look at, but be with the lowly with favor is all the more important. What might the world look like if when we are low ourselves that we remind ourselves how beloved we are? And that we do it for our friends that are low as well?

December 23: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Into This World: Love in a Time of Apathy
Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:10-16
God does an amazing thing – God decides to come down to be with us in a humble, loving way. When hard times hit, we need to experience the love of God and avoid the dangers of becoming apathetic, without passion.

December 24: Christmas Eve at 8:00pm
Into This World: Light in a Time of Darkness
Luke 2:1-14, John 1:1-5
Special music, carols, juBELLation choir, and candles. At this service we will be looking at how we are called to be the messengers of light. What might God be doing in us and with us to share light with those around us? Or it might be a season where we need others to help us see the light of God – how might we surround ourselves with those fellow journeyers who can walk with us in grace?

Living Faithfully in God’s Promises

God has made a covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, providing instructions on the ways to live that bring life to all and promising to be with them. Joshua and Solomon remember God’s covenant and seek to serve God wisely. Their example helps others to live faithfully in God’s covenant as well. Living faithfully and trusting God creates opportunities to share God’s power with others, as Elisha did in healing Naaman. Yet, because of sin, it can be a struggle to live in the ways God desires. David reveals that we can often stray from God, making decisions that bring pain instead of life. Still, no matter what we do, God is always faithful, and always offers forgiveness and love.

October 21: Crossing Boundaries and God’s Promise
2 Samuel 11:1-5, 26-27; 12:1-9; Psalm 51:1-9
Nathan and King David

October 28: All Saint’s Sunday — The Promises of Living as Saints
John 11:32-44, Revelation 21: 1-6a

November 4: Healing for All
2 Kings 5:1-15a
Elisha Heals Naaman

November 11: Visions of Mercy, Justice, and Peace
Micah [1:3-5] 5:2-5a; 6:6-8

November 18: God’s Plans for Peace
Isaiah 36: 1-3, 13-20, 37:1-7

November 25: Jeremiah’s Call
Jeremiah 1:4-10, 7:1-11

God’s Promises Bring Hope

God’s promises bring hope for the future. After the flood, God promises never to flood the earth, and affirms God’s loving relationship with all people. Calling Abram from his home, God promises him a future of descendants through which all the world will be blessed. God’s continued presence brings Joseph hope even as he faces trials of many kinds. Rescuing the Israelites, God promises to be their God, a covenant which becomes a central theme in the Old Testament. The gift of this covenant and the Ten Commandments provides the Israelites with guidelines on how to love God and love others in ways that bring life and hope to all.

September 9: The Rainbow Promise
Genesis 6:5-22; 8:6-12; 9:8-17
Noah and the Ark

September 16: Bilingual Service – Mariachi Service
Genesis 12:1-9
God Calls Abram

September 23: Joseph’s Hope
Genesis 39:1-23
Joseph Dreams a Dream

September 30: Freedom Promises
Exodus 14:5-7, 10-14, 21-29
Parting of the Red Sea

October 7: The Promise of Living Together in Harmony
Exodus 19:3-7; 20:1-17
The Ten Commandments

Engaging the Powers

In this sermon series, we will be looking at the nature of what the new testament calls “the powers” – the forces in life that seek to dominate over others. The powers live among us, and while they can work for good, they can also work for domination and oppression. How are we called to engage the darker powers of our time and work for the realm of God that Jesus imagined? What lessons of Jesus might we apply to our own times, and how does the experience of the early church help us live lives with the light of God amidst challenging forces?

July 29: Rooted and Grounded in Love
Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-21
We will be naming the powers over us, hear a great story, and get some great advice from Mr. Rogers.

August 5: Bonds of Peace (Amid Chain Rattling)
Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-16
In highly polarized times, how can we walk effectively through the thickets of “chain rattlers” to work for good? This involves understanding Jesus’ nonviolence approach that moves beyond “being nice.”

August 12: Killing with Kindness
Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Why being like Mr. Rogers might be a great strategy for living.

August 19: Living Wisely in Evil Days
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-20
What is evil (versus plain old sinning and being mean)? How can we protect ourselves from getting contaminated by evil forces, and turning into that ourselves?

August 26: Against the Powers
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20
We have to create ways of protecting ourselves – creating healthy boundaries – in times when the powers want to dominate. What spiritual “clothing” do we need to put on for these encounters?

Following Jesus: How do we become people of faith

The stories of what happened to the followers of Jesus after he ascended into heaven in the Book of Acts are rather astonishing.  If we aren’t careful, we might be lulled into thinking that all was neat, cozy and tidy about this new movement of Jesus.  But if we think about it a bit more, it was nothing of the kind.  This new Jesus movement was upturning 1,000 years of history and breaking a lot of rules in a very traditional society.  It was allowing people to gather together who had not before.  It was a new social/religious movement with great spiritual power behind it, and with it, great risks.  Following Jesus was not taking the safe road.

Upcoming sermon series:

June 3 – Following Jesus: Finding Sabbath Time
Image: Jesus as spiritual leader
Mark 2:23-3.6

June 10 – Following Jesus: a new kin community
Image: Jesus as Abba
Bilingual service; communion
Mark 3:20

June 17 – Following Jesus: Learning to Garden the World
Image: Jesus as Source of Life
Mark 4:26-34

June 24 – Following Jesus: Courage Amid Chaos
Image: Jesus as Controller of Seas
Mark 4:35-41

July 1 – Following Jesus: Healing for All
Image: Jesus as Healer
Mark 5:21-43

July 8 – Following Jesus: Being Sent Out
Image: Jesus as Peacemaker
Mark 6:6b-13

Holy Week Services

Sunday, March 25, 10:00AM
This service begins Holy Week, and commemorates Jesus entering Jerusalem in a parade on the seat of an ass. What was Jesus telling us about his mission when he did this?

Thursday, March 29, 7:00PM
This evening at San Jose First will feature a simple soup supper meal with the whole congregation plus St. Paul UMC members, a bilingual service commemorating Jesus last meal with his disciples, and welcoming new members to our congregation

Friday, March 30, 5:00PM
Join an ecumenical Christian witness outside the MLK library at the corner of S. 4th and San Salvador. We will remember the crucifixion of Jesus as an act of violence of the Roman Empire and raise our voices in lament and calls for the end of state sanctioned violence today. We will be led by PACT clergy leaders and join the weekly peace vigil.

Sunday, April 1, 10:00AM
This is one of the major festival Sundays of our faith, as we celebrate the resurrection life in Christ. We will have special music, bells, communion, and an inspirational message on the theme of “The Gift of Unlimited Love!”

Lent: Gifts of the Dark Wood

Our Lent worship series, “Gifts of the Dark Wood,” is about “seeing life through new eyes.” When we allow ourselves to accept the journey within the Dark Woods, the Holy Spirit Guide tends to nudge us, awaken us, to a fuller life. But life is messy. Life is uncertain. Rather than a problem to be solved, what if we saw uncertainty, failure, emptiness, and loss as gifts? What if we saw how these uncomfortable times can actually help us let go of all we cannot know so that we can live more wholeheartedly? Let us begin the journey…

February 18 – The Gift of Uncertainty
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, Stilling of the Storm
Service will include ashes, perhaps also dissolving paper in water

February 25 – The Gift of Emptiness
Scripture: Mark 15:22-38

March 4 – The Gift of Being Thunderstruck
Scripture: Job 37:1-5, Luke 13:1-9

March 11 – The Gift of Getting Lost – Bilingual Service
Scripture: Psalm 42, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

March 18 – The Gift of Temptation
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:16-19, Luke 4: 1-13

March 25 – The Gift of Misfits – Palm Sunday
Scripture: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29, Luke 19:29-42a

April 1 – The Gift of Unlimited Love – Easter Sunday

Seeking After God

This Sunday we begin a new sermon series: Seeking After God.  What does it mean to search and follow God? We may think such journeys should be carefree, but often this searching is filled with initial success, then failure, uncertainty, and pondering. Let’s look at the models of seeking we find in our scriptures!

January 21 — Faithful Following – Mark 1:14-20
The disciples by the sea immediately follow Jesus – and find community in a different life. Where are we willing to risk for our faith?

January 28 — Re-turning to God – Book of Jonah
The story of Jonah and the whale is far deeper than a “big fish” story. It’s the story of 2nd and 3rd chances given to us by God. It’s the story of how we make mistakes and still get called into relationship with a loving God.

February 4 — Seeking Healing and Recovery – Mark 1:28-39
Those who serve well, also need to remember to rest and wait. In fact, waiting is not such a passive thing — it is essential to seeking God!

February 11 — The Way of Seeing – John 9:1-41
Bilingual Service / Transfiguration Sunday
The transfiguration moment on the mountain leads the disciples to see more, and learn to serve differently. Where am I blind to those who are in need? How can I learn to “see” more?

Worship During Advent and Christmas

“Do not be afraid.” – The Angels

The angels that appear in the story of Jesus’ birth would have been very comfortable in our world of tweets and hashtags. Their messages were often short and to the point–their favorite line being #DoNotBeAfraid. As we look at the stories of these winged messengers to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds, and their reactions to them, we will contemplate what messages we can offer that will counteract a culture of fear and bring #morehope, #morepeace, #morejoy, and #morelove to the world.

December 3: Advent 1 – Make Ready a People #morehope – Luke 1:1-25, 57-80

Have you ever had a moment in your life after which you knew nothing would ever be the same? In the midst of great change, hope is always a welcome thing. Advent can remind us that God makes us ready for whatever unknown may come our way and calls us to be messengers of #morehope in an ever-changing world.

December 10: Advent 2 – Nothing is Impossible #morepeace – Luke 1:26-56

Have you ever struggled with finding your purpose and being at peace with it? Or are you yearning for more peace in your life and relationships? #morepeace in the world happens when all of us feel #morepeace within ourselves and live out that message each day.

December 17: Advent 3 – Do Not Be Afraid #morejoy – Matthew 1:18-25

Keeping up “appearances” can rob us of our #morejoy. Let us be messengers of encouragement and steadfast support, as Joseph was for Mary and Jesus, for that which the Spirit is birthing in the world.

December 24: Advent 4 – This Will Be a Sign #morelove – Luke 2:1-20

This will be our bi-lingual service for December at our usual 10:00 am time. The service will feature a telling of the Christmas story – in both Spanish and English, and remind us of God’s love for the whole world. Enjoy Christmas carols as we offer up to God our voices in praise.

December 24: Christmas Eve Candlelight Service 10:00pm – I Bring You Great Tidings #DoNotBeAfraid

This service will look at our angel messengers and focus on the great news of the angels to the shepherds, the least of their society. With both our house band and the JuBELLation bell choir participating, we will enjoy music of the season and light candles as our sign of being God’s messengers bringing hope, peace, joy, and love into a hurting world.

December 31: First Sunday of Christmas – Get Up and Go – Matthew 2:1-23 #morelife

Joseph and his new family were in danger from the Roman Empire; now he needed the angels timely warnings more than ever. Jesus, the Savior of Humankind becomes a refugee–forced from home by oppression and violence. We ask ourselves how we might usher in #morelife in the face of that which feels destructive. One last time in this series we hear the message #DoNotBeAfraid to get up and go–leaving those things that weigh us down and moving into the new year with new life.