Friday
December 18, 2020
LESSONS

One of the exciting experiences we as Christians share is talking to other Christians who grew up in different parts of America or another country altogether, during different times, & with exposure to various denominations, and with traditions people felt were important to their understanding of who Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of the world, was? Whether we identify as male or female, young person or old, white or a person of color, conservative or liberal, we are all one church, one body in Christ, part of His kingdom. We can disagree about who wrote what in the Bible or which translation is closer to how a Greek word should be translated to give the words full impact. Before COVID19, we could have a preference on which method of receiving communion we prefer (wafers or bread, separate cups or partaking from one large cup) & whether the celebrant should be facing us or with his back towards the congregation.

In the end we are all children of the Most High & acknowledge the words set forth in the Nicene Creed: We believe in one God, the Almighty, maker of heaven & earth. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, of one being with the Father, through whom all things were made. For us & for our Salvation, He came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit & the Virgin Mary & became human. For our sake, Jesus was crucified & was buried. On the third day he rose again, according to the scriptures. He ascended into heaven & sits beside the Father. Christ will come again in glory to judge the living & the dead. His kingdom shall have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord & giver of life, who proceeds from the Father & Son, who with the Father & Son is worshipped & glorified, & who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one Holy, universal, & apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sin. We look for the resurrection of the dead & the life of the world to come.

I met a very wise man once when I was taking a Walk About in Australia to discern the lessons God & Aboriginal people wished to share with me. I found beautiful drawings on the walls of ancient caves. I had seen similar drawings on rocks done by Anasazi Native People near where I had grown up, in the American Southwest, but the ones who knew the stories on the rocks had passed on, leaving it to anthropologists to try to interpret what they meant. There was much disagreement. Now, seeing these pictures I was disappointed there was no one to teach me the lessons of these petroglyphs.

As I sat on a rock staring at the pictures, an old man with black skin & a white beard came by & sat on a nearby rock. I later learned from a park ranger that his name was Big Bill, that he had grown up with his mother & sister in a cave near Darwin, in the Australian outback, & he had heard the stories passed down from the ancient ones. I said, “These are beautiful pictures.” Big Bill said “Hum.” I said, “I wish I knew what the ancestors were trying to tell people in those pictures, so I might have a better understanding.” Big Bill said, “Hum.” We sat in silence for a long time. Finally, Big Bill said, “You talk funny.” I said, “Hum.” Big Bill said, “You look funny. Your hair is funny, (not thick & curly like his, but thin & golden) & your skin is funny (pale, not mahogany like his). I said, “Hum.” But, Big Bill said, “Your heart is open, so I will share with you.” And he did. He showed me the cave he grew up in and how his mother had traced his open hand in paint on the wall, much as I had done with my own children, to show the world that these children were important, have promise, and that we as parents value them. This universal declaration of a child’s humanity is revered in cultures throughout the world. Perhaps Mary, Jesus’ mother had taken his little hand and traced the image in the garden by their home in Nazareth.

During this Advent season, when we welcome Jesus into the world & into our hearts with open hands, may we realize that probably most of us look funny, some of us may talk funny or say things others may not understand or necessarily agree with, but because we are open, because we are one with Christ, God will share with us and teach us the lessons we are to learn in these tumultuous times. Come Jesus and teach us. Amen.

-- Dee Billops
A LETTER FROM THE CHURCH COUNCIL:
To our congregation:

Some people may have the perception that St. John’s is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This could not be further from the truth. While the physical building does remain closed, the church has many events occurring, just in a different venue. We have vibrant worship and small group activities in numerous forms. Using the technology of streaming and Zoom, we have two worship services every Sunday morning as well as Jazz Vespers the first Saturday of the month. We have drive-by communion services, prayer circles, Sunday School classes, Bible studies, children’s and youth activities, and so on.

The Leadership Team of this church made up of our clergy, chairs of numerous committees and certain staff members are continuing to meet regularly to discuss the conditions by which we will reopen the building. Through the work of those individuals, we have created procedures to be activated when we do open the doors again. The team continues to monitor the statistics in the general population and will discern when the building can, indeed, be reopened. Remember, these persons are members of this wonderful church also. They have the same feelings, concerns, doubts, fears and ambitions that you do.

However, because of the high incidence of spread within our community recently, St. John’s will be conducting our Christmas Eve services using the YouTube and Facebook platforms that we have already been using on Sunday mornings. While this decision does bring some heartache to a number of our congregants, as well as this Leadership Team, I would hope that it will help us remember the trials that Jesus’s parents, Joseph and Mary, had to endure just to bring our Redeemer into the world. Joseph had to leave his own carpentry business to travel to Bethlehem for a census. They traveled on foot or donkey; so it was not the 35 minute drive it would be today. Then there was no place to stay once they arrived at their destination city, Bethlehem. So Mary gave birth in a barn with no heat or the comforts of a home. It is from this humble beginning that we have Christ’s church as we know it today with its millions of followers. Maybe it will be from this humble end to 2020 and start to 2021 that St. John’s will become all that Jesus would have us be to the world and His children.

Once we do open the building, and it will happen, be assured that St. John’s will do all we can to protect our congregation. Just as in those times of persecution in our Christian history, the virus may have closed our building; but our church remains vibrant and alive. Stay tuned for what God has in store for all of us! Continue to pray for God’s will within this family we call St. John’s United Methodist Church. Please, stay safe. And may God bless each and every one of you during this more humble and quiet Christmas.

Linn D. Reece
Chair of Church Council
THE PRACTICE OF PRESENCE
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, counselor@stjohns-abq.org, or 505-506-6716, if you have questions.
Mark Macali reads Psalm 146:5-10
Therese Macali sings “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
During Advent you are invited to participate in personal Advent Evening Prayer and Worship in the comfort of your home at the close of each day. Download this guide HERE.
#adventaltarspace
Photos from in the sanctuary, taken by Pastor Pam!
MOUNTAIN CATHEDRALS
Saturday, December 19 | 1:30 pm
Bosque Del Apache
National Wildlife Refuge

Join Mountain Cathedrals this Saturday December 19th as we travel to the Bosque Del Apache. We will meet at St John’s at 1:30 pm. If you prefer, meet us as the Visitor’s Center at the Bosque Del Apache. We should be there around 3:30 pm. During our time together we may view the cranes, herons, geese, and other waterfowl returning to the Bosque at sunset. Bring your binoculars! The Bosque closes at 1 hour after sunset, so about 6:30 pm.

As, we gather at the VISITOR’S CENTER parking lot (turn right) we will gather and give more details about our visit. Next, we will stop at the Boardwalk Trail (.5 miles). It is a semi-permanent wetland that has year-round wildlife viewing. Cattails and bulrushes hide bitterns, rails, and busy muskrats. At the conclusion of this short walk, we will have a devotion and receive communion, while we reflect on God’s creation, these wetlands of New Mexico, in this season of waiting and watching. See you soon!
A CALL FOR DAILY DEVOTIONALS
Would you be interested in submitting a daily devotional for the Newsletter? If so, send an email to Pastor Pam at prowley@stjohns-abq.org! Please include the following items when writing a devotion:
  • A Focus Word or Phrase
  • A Scripture (it can simply be referenced)
  • One page of a Devotion
  • A Prayer or a Spiritual Practice
JOIN US FOR WORSHIP LIVE-STREAMED FROM THE SANCTUARY
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 our Youtube Channel. 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 mgreer@stjohns-abq.org.

Sunday Community Activities: Click HERE to view all Sunday School Classes & groups! Join us in the virtual Sonshine Coffee Zoom immediately following the 11:00 am Worship with church Leadership Team members hosting. Zoom registration is HERE.
Prayer Requests:
The Gruen family in the passing into glory of Marge

Ann Boland and family in the passing into glory of Bob

Roger and Donna Eaton in the passing of sister Virginia Davis

Donna Bruce in the passing of her brother

Karen and Hal Tidler in the passing of their brother-in-law
VIRTUAL PRAYER QUILT
Kelly Giese is the recipient for the prayer quilt on display for December 7 - December 20.

In lieu of tying knots, please pray this prayer (or your own prayer) for Kelly: “Loving Lord, we ask that as Kelly moves forward to a new location and a new ministry, may your Holy Spirit lead and guide her and keep her steadfast, always abounding in your work and in your love. Amen."
 DECEMBER SPECIAL OFFERING: Two Ministries for Children
This month, we have the opportunity to support two wonderful ministries dealing with children. The Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, Texas, has helped troubled children (ages 12-18) find a place to heal and grow in a loving Christian environment for over 125 years. Younger children thrive in homes of loving foster parents. “They (MCH) are here for me when no one else is.” “They never give up on us.” “I now know that God’s going to be there for me.
      A second Methodist-supported haven for children is Providence Place in San Antonio, Texas. Its motto says it all: “Giving God’s Children a Faith, a Family, a Future.” “Providence Place loved me and helped me make the best decision for my child without any pressure,” said one birth mother in the open adoption program. And, as an adoptive couple puts it, “It is indescribable the joy that Abby has brought into our lives.” Providence Place also helps young adults with physical and/or cognitive disabilities develop their full potential and learn to live on their own with minimal assistance.  Both of these fine ministries rely on our generous donations.
Contact Us
www.stjohns-abq.org
(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 communicate@stjohns-abq.org