New Discipleship Opportunities

Want to grow in faith and connect with others? Sign up for one of these small group opportunities:

 

Book Study on Grateful, a new book by Diana Butler Bass

While studies show that most people feel a sense of personal thankfulness for specific things, the author sees a gap between that feeling and our worry and fear as a society. We’ll explore our personal and collective emotions of gratitude and our ethics/actions in response, with a book full of personal stories, spirituality, and Biblical reflections.

Class will meet Sundays at 11:20am–12:45pm on April 29, May 6, May 20, June 3, and June 10. Led by Pastor Kristie Olah.

 

Book Study on Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, a classic book by Marcus J. Borg

Marcus Borg went on a spiritual journey as an adult when he was asked to talk about Jesus “and make it personal.” As an academic religion scholar, Borg found that he was profoundly moved in the process and it illuminated his faith in new ways. We will go on that journey with him, exploring our personal relationship and discovering new images and ways to see Jesus through the scriptures.

Class will meet Wednesdays at 6:30–7:45pm on May 2, 9 16, 30 and June 6 & 13. Led by Pastor Renée Rico.

 

Both books are available in hardcopy (either hardback or paperback) and in electronic form.

Sign-up here online, or fill out a form at church!

Church Work Day: Volunteers Needed

On Saturday, April 14, we’re having a workday to bring the pieces of the old pipe organ down from the attic, and into the multi-purpose room. We need strong hands, and at least a few people who are willing to go up and down attic stairs. We’ll start at 9:00. Lunch will be provided.

Holy Week Services

PALM SUNDAY
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?

MAUNDY THURSDAY
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

GOOD FRIDAY
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.

EASTER SUNDAY
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!”

Chancel and Cross Task Force needs your input

The Chancel and Cross Task Force is at work exploring options for furnishing the chancel area of the sanctuary with a more cohesive look and appropriate symbols for worship, such as a cross. You can provide input: click here to go to an online Google survey form to fill out. Paper copies of the form are available on the table outside the Sanctuary, and in the bulletins.

Please fill out and/or return them by Sunday, March 18th.

Task Force Members: Jerry Burge, Ron Hunt, Joan Clements, Kristeen Pemberton, and Patty Meeko.

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?

La Posada

Posadas are an important part of Mexican Christmas traditions. These community celebrations take place on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, from December 16 to 24th. The word posada means “inn” or “shelter” in Spanish, and in this tradition, Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay is re-enacted. 

Posadas are held in neighborhoods across Mexico and are also becoming popular in the United States.

The celebration begins with a procession in which the participants hold candles and sing Christmas carols. Sometimes there will be individuals who play the parts of Mary and Joseph who lead the way, or occasionally images representing them are carried. The procession will make its way to a particular home (a different one each night), where a special song (La Cancion Para Pedir Posada) is sung.

Asking for Shelter

There are two parts to the traditional posada song. Those outside the house sing the part of Joseph asking for shelter and the family inside responds singing the part of the innkeeper saying that there is no room. The song switches back and forth a few times until finally the innkeeper decides to let them in. The hosts open the door and everyone goes inside.

Celebration

Once inside the house there is a celebration which can vary from a very big fancy party to a small get-together among friends. Often the festivities begin with a short Bible reading and prayer. Then the hosts give the guests food, usually tamales and a hot drink such as ponche or atole. Then the guests break piñatas and the children are given candy.

The nine nights of posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine months that Jesus spent in Mary’s womb, or alternatively, to represent the nine days’ journey to Bethlehem.

Our Posada celebration will not be for nine days, but for just one evening on Thursday, December 21. We are inviting the Wesley UMC Church to participate in this beautiful celebration in order to contribute to a more unified community in the heart of downtown San José.

We will start the festivities at 6:00 P.M. at the Wesley UMC Church, located at 566 North 5th Street, in a procession with candles. We will sing Christmas carols during our walk to San José First UMC, where we will perform our beautiful tradition for the third year in a row. Everyone in our Methodist congregations are invited, as well as all the people in the downtown neighborhood.

Participants will experience the Mexican representation of Christmas with its traditional costumes, Biblical readings, and songs. And finally, everyone is invited to enjoy a dinner cooked by Gerardo—authentic Mexican Pozole—accompanied by coffee, tea, and water. If anyone one wants to bring something for dessert or a dish to share, they are welcome to do so. We thank you and hope to see you on December 21st.

Attend and have fun!

— Gerardo Vazquez-Padilla

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.

Do Not Be Afraid: Living a WholeHearted Life

We’re planning reflection groups based on what we heard at the listening sessions, and you’re invited!

Do Not Be Afraid: Living a WholeHearted Life

5 Week Small Groups in December and January

Gathering for discussions, reflection and prayer considering how to live fully into hope, peace, joy and love.

Each session: 1 hour and 15 minutes
To be held at the church or perhaps, someone’s home or community room

Two groups:
one led by Pastor Renée
and one, by Pastor Kristie

Sign-up here

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
gerardov@sanjosefirst.org
408-854-3013