September 11, 2020

“O, God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

The wilderness in scripture is a place away from civilization and culture, an unmarked territory far from cities and cultivated fields. In such places, we feel disoriented and vulnerable, stripped of our familiar routines. For the purposes of this devotion, I’m going to use a rather broad definition of wilderness that encompasses deserts and oceans and foreign lands, in short, anything that represents unknown, unexplored territory. In the Bible these places are revealed as both places of threats and promises. With the familiar stripped away (if we aren’t completely overwhelmed!), there is a chance God can create something new and meaningful.

The first example in the Bible of ‘wilderness’ thus defined is in Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve are cast out of the cozy Garden of Eden and into a land east of Eden, where life is tough, pain is real, and the only way to survive is work. The lesson is harsh, the condition of our new knowledge of good and evil: we are emmeshed in time with a future we can now imagine that involves sin and death. On our own, all we can do is strive to delay the inevitable by hard work. By giving up pleasure now, we can store up something for tomorrow. So, the first gift of the wilderness is WORK, which is required for survival and gives us something meaningful to do.

Noah’s flood is a type of wilderness in that all of the old world is wiped out and Noah and his family must start over from nothing. We get a hint of the pressure Noah had been under (Post-Flood Stress Disorder!) when in Gen. 9, he passes out, drunk and naked. His sons rescue him and we have the next gift of the wilderness: FAMILY. In tough times, it is often those related to us by blood who will support us with unconditional love.

Abraham’s great command from God in Genesis 12 is to leave his homeland and go to a far distant place. In times when anyone not of your own tribe was an automatic threat, this must have been a daunting prospect: leave the familiar and go live among potentially hostile strangers. All he had was his FAITH, the next great gift of the wilderness. When all else has been stripped away, we are forced to depend upon God and trust God’s promise to be with us.

Jacob is forced to run away from home after betraying his brother Esau. In the wilderness he has a great vision of a stairway to heaven. The covenant of faith that God had established with his grandfather Abraham is reaffirmed and Jacob creates an altar and worships. That is the next gift, WORSHIP. Often when we are surrounded by our daily comforts, we forget to acknowledge the presence of God. But in nature, God’s first scripture, it is easier to sense God and our natural response is to fall on our knees.

Joseph is thrown into a pit in the wilderness and then into a prison in Egypt, betrayed by his own brothers. His arrogance is stripped away and he rises in status in his adopted home and saves his own family from starvation. The wilderness can do that by knocking out the props our egos set up to keep us going in normal times. We have to find new strengths once we experience failure: the gift of HUMILITY.

The most famous, important, and literal journey into the wilderness is the forty-year sojourn of the Children of Israel after their liberation from Egyptian slavery. The account takes up much of the biblical books Exodus-Deuteronomy (in fact, the Hebrew title of the book of Numbers is “In the Wilderness.”) The leader, Moses, receives his supernatural call to action from a burning bush in the wilderness. Once freed, the first thing we notice is how hopelessly whiney the people are. That’s how we feel when we are tossed into brand-new situations, isn’t it? The familiar may not have been perfect (slavery!), but at least we were used to it. In the wilderness, everything is new and different and hard. There is no infrastructure, no conveniences. Housing, food, and water are an everyday scramble. No wonder a ‘back to Egypt’ committee of dissidents forms to resist Moses’ leadership. God finally has to step in and provide the food and water, which is, of course, the point: in the wilderness, we are totally DEPENDENT ON GOD. Even harder, in some ways, is the effort to build community. Moses exhausts himself trying to settle disputes between people and between the people and God. Finally, there is the great revelation on Mt. Sinai and the LAW OF GOD is given allowing a fresh start. There are the ethical laws (e.g., don’t steal) and the many ritual laws about sacrifice. In the wilderness, PRIORITIES get REARRANGED. Childish behaviors are abandoned ranging from the blame game to learned helplessness. A helpless, hopeless gaggle of ex-slaves is transformed into a community capable of claiming their Promised Land.

When we are suddenly thrown into the wilderness (a death, diagnosis, or divorce, a loss or change of job, a move or lack of movement as in a time of pandemic,) do we dwell on the threat or on the promise? As the familiar is stripped away, can we let bad habits go as well? Can we deepen the practice of our faith since other landmarks are gone?

-- Jack Nuzum
Friday, September 11 | 10:00 am
The Ladies Needle Arts will meet on September 11 at 10:00 am in the playground area on the West Side of the church. Please bring your lawn chain and you must wear your mask.
This is a time to share some of your current projects and to socialize with one another. There will be no access to the church. Please contact for other information.
Click HERE to view the poll!
Saturday, September 12 | 8:00 am

Tramway Trail – meditation on Psalm 121 and travelers then and now

Logistics: Meet at St. John’s East Parking Lot at 8 AM or at the base of the Sandia Peak Tram at 8:30 (in this case please contact us so we know to look for you). The hiking distance is 4.2 miles round trip with 830 feet of elevation gain and some rocky walking (moderately strenuous). We should be back at the tramway base by 12:30. Be prepared for sunny conditions; also bring masks, snack, water. No bathrooms are available at St. John’s at this time. Contact Mike Furnish ( or Kelly Giese ( for more information.

Ps. 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and

I imagine myself on a roadway near Jerusalem around the time of Jesus. A rocky desert path with many travelers. The main roads were engineered by the Romans and formed an impressive network, but the lesser ones were rougher. I’m amazed when I look at the travels of Paul – routes that would take several days in a car, but much longer on two feet or four hooves plus some time on boats. On these roads, many of the people I’d meet would be absorbed in their own journey, hurrying to their destinations and the tasks that await them there. Some would possibly stop to talk. Some would be intent on harm. Some would remain absorbed in their own stories as they silently continue onward.

How are things different now? How are they the same?
Saturday, September 12 | 5:00 pm
We're so happy to announce that Jazz Vespers will be resuming monthly, LIVEstreamed to your home on our YouTube Channel. Saturday, September 12 at 5pm

Dianna Hughes, vocalist
Robert Lah, pianist
Micky Patten, bassist
Jazz Vespers is a unique, meditative worship service that features some of New Mexico’s best professional jazz musicians. Jazz Vespers occurs on the 2nd Saturday of each month at 5:00 pm in the St. John’s United Methodist Church sanctuary.
Youth News
On Labor Day we launched the 5-things Video challenge, where each student can win a $50.00 Visa Gift Card if they accomplish all 5 tasks. We have continued receiving submissions for one more week. Find the video and explanation of events at:

On September 25, the youth group is heading up to Grace Park @5:00PM for a Social Distancing campout. Parents will caravan up with us then either drop off & comeback or stay with us the weekend; pitch your own tents; Cost is $15; let’s get out of town & experience the great outdoors together, yet apart. All registrations are due Sept 20 and done online:

To better streamline all the ways we communicate, the Youth Group has adopted the Slack app to merge and integrate the our direct messaging, digital calendar, Zoom account, and all our online documents. It is easy to join the threads that apply just to you. Join in 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!
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
Missing getting together with your St John’s family after church? Join us in the virtual Sonshine Coffee Zoom immediately following the 11:00 am Worship. Church Leadership Team members starting with Jim Hickman will be hosting with the Pastors Pam and Kelly joining if they are available. Zoom registration is HERE.
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.
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
Mondays | 9:00 am
Join St. John’s Music Director Matthew Greer for a new weekly session in which he talks about the music ministry, explores hymns and choral music, and chats with the occasional guest about music they love.
Mondays at 9am, beginning September 14! Check Monday morning eDisciple for the Zoom link.
Monday, September 14 | 6:30 pm
The Ladies Book Club will meet on September 14 at 6:30 pm in the grassy area between the Church and FLC. Please bring your lawn chair and you must wear your mask. We will be discussing “The Great Alone” by Kristan Hannah. There will be no access to the church. Please contact for other information.
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.
Wednesdays | 12:00 pm
Join us for a new series of concerts live-streamed from the St. John's sanctuary! Concerts are a benefit for Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless.

featuring the St. John's Music Staff

Aaron Howe, baritone
Jim Ahrend, pianist

Olga Perez Flora, mezzo-soprano
James Flora, tenor
Kristin Ditlow, pianist
Women's Studies Via ZOOM
We will be offering all our classes via ZOOM so you can attend from the convenience of your own home - perhaps even in your pjs if you want!

Registration Information
  • No charge to take the class but you will need to purchase your own book
  • Information provided when you sign up for a class on possible sources for books
  • Depending on the class you choose, cost of book is usually between $10 - $16 plus shipping
  • Deadlines given to allow time to order and receive your book before class begins
  • Sign up for the class(es) you want by emailing Donna at
  • Maximum number of participants listed with each class so if interested in a particular class, please register as soon as possible
  • Waiting lists created for any classes that reach maximum number but still have ladies interested in participating
  • If there are enough on the waiting list for a particular class, a second session will be considered
God of Covenant, a Study of Genesis 12-50 by Jen Wilkin, led by Donna Bruce

October 6 - December 8 (10 weeks), Tuesdays, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Deadline for registration: September 24
Maximum number for class is 11

In Genesis 12-50, we see our God as the Covenant Maker. Starting in chapter 12, Jen Wilkin walks through the stories of the fathers of our faith - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Through these chapters in Genesis, we witness image bearers who sin and wrestle to maintain trust in the only One who will fulfill every promise, the One for whom nothing is too hard.
Wednesday, October 7 | 7:00 pm
Come receive communion in your car on Wednesday, October 7 and gather in safe community to worship and praise God. We encourage you to bring your own elements (bread & juice). If you do not have your own elements, we will provide individually-packaged elements. We will gather in the east parking lot of St. John's (2626 Arizona Street NE).
A CALL TO HOME GARDENERS: The Food Ministry Wants Your Fresh Produce From Your Garden
St John’s Food Ministry continues to serve the people of Albuquerque--approximately 500 people per month!--with hot meals prepared in our kitchen,  Do you have a surplus of fresh produce from your garden that you would like to donate to St. John's to feed the hungry? If so, please contact Chef Tim at
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!
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
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.
Remember to get started on your family-history manuscript with Terri Link and Regina Hunter, beginning this Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00, with a refresher at 9:00 for those who want it. If you have trouble connecting before 10:00, call Regina at 294-2877.
Most of us have read only read bits and pieces of the book of Daniel: “Daniel in the Lions’ Den” and “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace.” This brief episode of St. John’s email Bible study will examine what else happened to Daniel and his friends in Babylon. Download a study guide, or call or write Regina Hunter for daily scripture readings and study tips, at 294-2877 or
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
Lynn Pate is the recipient for the prayer quilt on display for August 31st through September 13th.

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

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 -
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
SEPTEMBER SPECIAL OFFERING: Sacramento Methodist Assembly
   As summer winds up this year, let's pause and remember the church camp experiences of our lives, wherever they may be.
You may remember youth camps, women's or men's conferences, marriage retreats, lay speaker schools and many more events Some people made their first commitment to Christ in a camp setting. Most remember growing closer to God.
   Sadly, this year most events at Sacramento and other camps were canceled by Covid resulting in not only lots of disappointment, but also serious financial hardship. We at St. John's have the opportunity this month to support our beautiful camp in the Sacramento mountains south of Cloudcroft and ensure future opportunities with other Christians to pray, worship, play and study in God's beautiful creation. 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