August 21, 2020

“For the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rev. 7:17

Several weeks ago, Mary Beth Spletzer wrote a poignant devotion about raising sheep as a girl in Iowa, particularly adopting abandoned lambs. Her insights into the behavior of sheep inspired me to look at sheep in scripture, which inevitably includes lambs and shepherds. I’m also answering a question from a student in my Bible as Literature class years ago at Manzano High School. She hadn’t ever been to church or read the Bible before, and when we got to the New Testament and Jesus started talking about his flock, she cried out, “What is it about sheep in this book?!” Indeed, from Genesis through Revelation, sheep and shepherds are important both as measures of wealth and as symbols of following and leading.

All the patriarchs in Genesis were shepherds, and their flocks are measures of God’s blessing. Appropriately, sheep are then offered back to God in carefully prescribed sacrifices in Exodus and Leviticus. Solomon offers 120,000 sheep in dedicating the temple in Jerusalem, perhaps the origin of the term ‘overkill’…. The most important sacrifice for the Hebrews was that of the Paschal Lamb, the one-year-old male without blemish offered at the celebration of Passover. Isaiah extends this idea of sacrificial lamb to a human in Chapter 53 when he describes the Suffering Servant, who is led to slaughter, wounded for our transgressions, and whose punishment has made us whole (v. 5). Echoing these words, John the Baptist declares that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Paul explicitly identifies Jesus as “our paschal lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). Seamlessly, the Old and New Testaments meld together the idea of the perfect sacrifice, in Jesus’ case the Son of God Himself, as the most powerful expression of God’s forgiveness. Self-sacrificing love is the only force strong enough to overpower sin and death.

If Jesus is the Lamb of God, then we are the sheep of God. When our son Tim was a student in New Zealand, we visited a sheep farm, which are plentiful since there are roughly seven times the number of sheep as people on that island nation. The key point the farmer made was that sheep are really, really dumb. They will follow a leader over a cliff, for instance. So, in comparing us to sheep, the biblical authors are pointing to our helplessness on our own. There are many verses that talk about how we like sheep have gone astray. There are several references of judgment on Israel when the nation is compared to sheep being led to their death (Ps. 49:14; Jer. 50:17). Jesus in his parable of judgment in Matt. 25 separates the sheep from the goats, where the sheep come out better through their obedience to the law of love. We sheep are pretty hopeless on our own, so a common scriptural theme is that the welfare of the sheep depends on the quality of the shepherd.

The first overt identification of the shepherd with the political leadership in scripture is when Joshua is appointed (Num. 27:17). David learns his leadership skills by being a shepherd boy. The prophets, particularly Jeremiah and Ezekiel, have harsh words to say about poor shepherd-leaders: they destroy and scatter their sheep (Jer. 23:1), feed themselves but not the sheep (Ez. 34:2), and even eat the sheep (Ez. 34:10.) Indeed, the whole of Ezekiel 34 is an extended

contrast of bad and good shepherds. Finally, God has to step in and become the ‘shepherd of my sheep’ (v. 15.) This identification of God as the Good Shepherd is one of the most precious of biblical images: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Even as far back as Genesis 48:15, Jacob blesses Joseph in the name of “the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day.” Jesus appropriates the title of the Good Shepherd, who leaves the flock in search of one lost soul. And in his monologue in John 10, he describes in detail how the sheep know his voice, he calls us all by name, and lays down his life for his sheep. In a wonderful confluence of symbols, the self-sacrificing shepherd and the Lamb of God offered for the sins of the world become one: Jesus the Christ.

We see a similar composite in Revelation, where the slaughtered Lamb becomes the conquering Lamb, ruling with the Father on the heavenly throne. We also see the elements of both judgment and mercy emanating from the Lamb. And, finally, we see the marriage of the Lamb to His bride, the church. (Rev 19: 7). The Paschal Lamp, the Good Shepherd, and the obedient sheep are finally united in the Holy City.

When and why do we wander off, thinking we don’t need our shepherd? Do good or bad political leaders still have the power to bring security or suffering to their people? Are we willing to offer ourselves, our egos or ambitions, as sacrifices to God?

-- Jack Nuzum
Would you be interested in submitting a daily devotional for the Newsletter? If so, send an email to Pastor Pam at!

Please include the following items when writing a devotion:
A Focus Word or Phrase
A Scripture (it can simply be referenced)
The Body of the Devotion (one page is a good guideline)
A Prayer or a Spiritual Practice
El Morro National Monument, our day trip last week. Though the Visitor Center is closed, park trails are open from Wednesday through Sunday. The small campground is also open. The Monument, about 125 miles west of Albuquerque, is best known for its historic inscriptions at the base of the bluff, though we tend to spend most of our time exploring the trails and pueblo ruins on the top. It’s a delightful, not far from home destination.
-- Bob McKeown
Hi there! I love showing you photos of what we are doing at the church, but what I think would be an even more amazing thing to share is a picture of you! Send me pictures and/or videos of you/your family/your pets/your garden/your cooking/etc with a short description.
Sundays | 9:30 & 11:00 am
St. John’s will live-stream a worship service on Sunday morning at 9:30 am (Contemporary) on the Abide Facebook page and 11:00 am (Traditional) on the homepage of the website. We hope you’ll worship with us! (Pastors Pam and Kelly will lead, along with Shea Perry, Jim Ahrend, and Matt Greer). We hope that you’ll participate by singing and praying at home! Any questions? Email Matt at
Wednesdays | 8:00 am & 7:00 pm
Please join us on Wednesday mornings & evenings for a worship service of praise and prayer. This service will take place in the Memorial Garden of St. John’s on the west side of the building. This services is designed to be thirty minutes and will be led by Certified Lay Ministers Larry Luna & Joe Marshall. Please bring your own lawn chairs and sit six feet from your neighbor. In an effort to keep all of us safe and healthy, masks are required.
Saturday, August 29 | 5:00 - 7:00 pm

Let’s rally together for the need of others! On Saturday, August 29, 5:00 – 7:00 pm in the east parking lot of St. John’s United Methodist Church (2626 Arizona NE), the Missions’ Team will be collecting any of the following items for Silver Horizons and the Four Corners Ministry:

·     Any non-perishable food
·     Toilet paper
·     Paper towels
·     Facial tissues
·     Hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, men’s and women’s deodorants, toothpaste)
·     Bottled water

So, every time you go shopping this month or have products delivered to you, think about these two organizations and pick up some extra items. We’ll collect all these items on Saturday, August 29th!

If you’d rather give $$ instead of buying the products yourself, you can bring it that night, mail it to the church, or go to the St. John’s online giving. If you want the $$ split between the two organizations, write “Drive-in, Drop-off” in the memo field. If you’d rather it would go to an individual organization write either “Silver Horizons” or “Four Corners Ministry.”

The Missions’ Team thanks you so much for your generosity!!!
Online Groups
The announcements below include using the program "Zoom" to group-video chat. You can find a tutorial on how to use Zoom HERE!
Summer is past, and as we get back to school? Our Solid Ground youth group will resume meeting every Sunday at 4:00-5:15PM with new games, discussions, and faith-building activities plus new features of the student led Soap Box and Top 5s. Log-in. at: (case sensitive).

While we are not yet allowed to sing together, stay informed about the activities of the Sonrise Youth Choir, including weekly Zooms on Thursdays at 4:00 pm (Jackbox games!!), and musical workshops in the Fall! Email Shea at!
Tuesdays | 7:30 pm
Wednesdays | 1:30 pm
Log in and have coffee (or tea) and chat with Pastors Pam and Kelly! Zoom link HERE.
Wednesdays | 6:00 pm
Wednesday Night Bible Club is still on! Grade school friends join us on Zoom to get your weekly Bible lesson, watch the So & So Show, and pray with your friends. This summer we are taking a Focus on Faith! Don’t miss it! Email for more information!
Thursdays | 1:30 pm -- Starting August 6th
Meet by zoom with Pastor Pam for a 30 minute spiritual practice every Thursday afternoon. We will explore different ways to pray, to commune with God, to nurture our spiritual lives with Christ through the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Space is limited, join the class HERE.
This Zoom genealogy class is for people who have amassed a lot of family information and are wondering what to do next. It will not teach introductory genealogy or memoir writing. Some of the types of manuscripts to be considered include ancestral reports, descendancy reports, biographies, and edited letters or diaries. Each class will be one to two hours long, depending on the topic. Weekly assignments will be given, and in six weeks, students will have all of the major parts of a family-history manuscript and an abbreviated version of the content. The cost will be $10 per person, which will go to the UMW. A minimum of 6 people will be required for the class; a maximum of 12 Zoom connections will be accepted. A preliminary Zoom tutorial will be offered if needed. Check out the complete syllabus for topics and dates. Enroll by emailing Regina Hunter at or Terri Link at
Fridays | 9:30 - 10:00 am


Susan Brumbaugh, staff mental health counselor at St. John's, is offering a FREE weekly gathering on FRIDAYS at 9:30 am to practice mindfulness meditation. Each 30-minute session begins with a brief welcome, a description of the focus (e.g., breath, body, senses, emotions, thoughts), a 15-20 minute guided practice, and an opportunity to debrief and share experiences.
Anyone is welcome--no experience is necessary. (And, yes! It's okay for Christians to meditate.) If you want to learn more prior to starting, the sessions will be similar to ones she leads and records on YouTube. Each session will be hosted on Zoom. HERE is the zoom link. Please contact Susan Brumbaugh,, or 505-506-6716, if you have questions.
Congregational Care Corner
With the Church currently closed, the prayer shawls have taken up residence with Hunt and Ann. They are actually quite comfortable in the coolness of their new home but they would love to be of comfort to someone in need of God’s love. Please contact Ann at or 768-7013 if you would like a shawl. If you call, the basket will await your visit in their courtyard. Blessings -
Ruth Vermillion is the recipient for the prayer quilt on display for August 17th through August 30th.

In lieu of tying knots, please pray this prayer (or your own prayer): “Father, please hold Ruth tight in your embrace sustaining her by your grace and giving her strength and courage for whatever challenges she may face.”

How we support you and your family in prayer during this difficult time? Prayers for health, employment, peace? Please send your prayer requests to the Prayer Team: or submit them on our website HERE.

It is hard to get out and many people shouldn’t. Is there something you need delivered from the store? If we are able to help, we have a few volunteers who would like to serve as Go-fers for people who need something but cannot get it on their own. Please pass any requests on to Jarrod at

The St. John's staff includes a licensed mental health counselor who is available to meet virtually (using a smartphone or computer) in a secure online platform during these anxious times. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, counseling is available. Click here or contact Susan Brumbaugh at 505-506-6717 or for more details about session and cost information. Susan also has a Youtube Channel with mindfulness tips HERE.

Stephen Ministers are members of St. John’s who have gone through 50 hours of training to provide high quality, confidential Christian care to individuals experiencing a crisis or life challenge such as divorce, grief, job loss, hospitalization, relocation, or loneliness.

How does someone get a Stephen Minister?
If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, please call the office 505-883-9717 or email
  School at UNM will be starting soon in some form this year. It will be an stressful time for all students, so our opportunity to financially support Wesley House, for both the students who live there and those who participate in other Wesley Foundation programs is more important than ever.

 Please pray for the students and their leaders as they reach out to other students on campus as well. Please pray that Wesley House may be a place where all may find God's love and peace in these difficult times. Please give generously.
In accordance with the New Mexico Department of Health order, our facility will be closed until further notice. We will keep you apprised as things develop.

Your St. John's pastors and staff are still very much on the job, and are available to you during this time. Please reach out to us if we can help you in any way!
Office Administrator, Debbie Brown, will be answering the phone at St. John’s every weekday from 9:00 am-2:00 pm. Please call the office if you have any concerns or pastoral care needs. Debbie will get messages to Pastor Pam and Pastor Kelly. The office number is 505-883-9717.
Contact Us
(505) 883-9717
2626 Arizona St NE | Albuquerque, NM 87110
Office Hours (call only): Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Questions? Contact Shea Perry at