Pastor's Reflection 2023-08-24

Rev. John Oda
Dear Wesley UMC Community,

One of the spiritual practices that I have regularly engaged in is prayer and meditation. This summer I have been sitting in the back porch to meditate. I usually go out early in the cool of the mornings before the sun comes up with my hot cup of coffee. I try to sit quietly for 12 minutes in silence. I say that “I try to sit quietly” because often times as soon as I close my eyes, and take one or two deep breaths; my mind will wake up and say, “Hey what is happening here!? Why did it get so quiet? Don’t you know we have work to do? What about that email you need to reply to!? And what about that project you still need to complete? We need to get up right now and get to work! We don’t have time for all this Woo Woo Berkeley stuff.” But when I can have even just one quiet breath and really listen to my surrounding - the birds and wind - it makes a huge difference on my day. I feel more grounded. How does this work? How can being quiet and listening to one’s breath make you more grounded? The Christian mystics believed that God's presence can be most deeply experienced in the quietness of the mind and soul. Through quieting our minds, we can create a space for God to speak and reveal Godself. Prominent Christian mystics such as St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, and Thomas Merton, among others, are proponents of cultivating deep, personal relationships with God through the practice of quiet mediation which leads to inner stillness. Our scriptures also encourage us to seek stillness. Psalm 46: 10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
As September launches, our lives seem to get very busy. And it is true here at Wesley Church. We have three wonderful new events that will be taking place this Fall that I want to highlight. The first is Rally Sunday on September 10th. On this Sunday we will kick off our God’s Garden Sunday School. This is not new but after worship we will kick off our monthly Sunday Fellowship Lunches. These lunches are our way of thanking everyone supporting the church, welcoming new people and providing a meal for busy families! It is a good outreach tool as well, “Hey want to come to Wesley? We are having a wonderful lunch after as well!”
On October 14th, we will hold our 2nd Annual Bless the Pets event from 11:00am to 2:00pm right here at Wesley Church. We recognize that our families are very important to us and this includes our pets! We also know that the love of God extends to all of our pets and that they deserve to receive blessings from God for good health, love, and a full rich life. The Bless the Pets event is also another great outreach event for those who are not familiar with Wesley Church.
And finally mark your calendars for the 2023 Japantown Curry Cook Off on November 18 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm here at Wesley. This event is being co-sponsored by the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin and Wesley United Methodist Church. The Curry Cook Off will be a fun competition to see who can cook up the best curry. All of the proceeds will go to: Yu-Ai Kai Japantown Senior Services and the Nikkei Matsuri Foundation. There will also entertainment for the evening: Na Kolohe Kane (Hawaiian), the Wesley Ukulele Band and the Wesley Jazz Ensemble.
We hope you can join us for one or all of these fun events! It will be a busy Fall but hopefully we can all find time to also be still and quiet our minds in order to experience the presence of God!

Peace of Christ!
Rev. John Oda