Friday, April 17, 2020

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:7—23

One of my favorite Broadway plays is Les Misérables. What a powerful story of redemption and forgiveness. The book, play, and musical are filled with memorable main and secondary characters. My favorite scene in the play sets the stage for Valjean’s journey toward redemption when he visits the bishops home, steals his silver, and when returned by the police, the bishop tells the officers the silver was a gift and that Valjean must have left in a hurry for he forgot the candlesticks! And then the classic line to Valjean by the bishop after the officers have left, “that he must use the silver to become an honest man" and that he has "bought his soul for God." Valjean’s vow to the bishop took his life in a totally different direction. In many ways our vows have altered our lives as well.

Our Sunday School class, the Family Spirit Class, was half-way through our six-week study, The Grace of Les Misérables by Matt Rowe, when we had to suspend worship services inside our sanctuary. The time away from our Sunday School class has given me extra time to reflect and think, especially as we have just celebrated Easter in a very different and unusual way.

When you read the focus scripture reading from Luke’s gospel you are struck with the parallels of the Jewish/Hebrew story of Passover and the story of Jesus’ new meal with his disciples. A theme connecting both stories of Passover and the Lord’s Supper is the word “vow”. The Hebrews promise to remember this story of salvation and freedom from slavery and to tell their children why they celebrate Passover. The disciples promise to do this meal in “remembrance of me.” Vows are important! Think back on the times you have made a vow. What was the occasion? A wedding? Church membership? To God?

As I thought about the current COVID-19 situation we are in and the changes in our way of living, I also started to think about past history. Think about how our faith traditions and rituals would be different if the Hebrews would have forgotten about God rescuing them from slavery? Or how our Sunday ritual of communion would have changed if the early Christians would not have gathered for that important meal?

Since we are all spending large quantities of time in our homes here are a few things to examine related to today’s devotion: Les Misérables (novel) by Victor Hugo. DVD’s: Les Misérables directed by Billie August starring Liam Neeson and includes “A First Look” special feature (1998, 134 min.). Hugo’s Les Misérables Cliff Notes edition with the 1935 (110 min.) and 1952 edition (106 min.) and the Cliff Notes booklet. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1978, 150 min.) version starring Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1958, 217 min.). Les Misérables staring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway (2012, 158 min., 8 Academy Award Nominations). Les Misérables PBS Masterpiece movie, includes a bonus DVD (2019, 420 min.) NOTE Amazon has a British rating on NC-17 and these six episodes were originally broadcast on PBS. Les Misérables: the History of the World’s Greatest Story (2013, 57 min.) available for purchase or to watch with Amazon Prime. Concert DVD’S: Les Misérables 10th Anniversary Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall including the “Making of Les Misérables” (1995, 147 min.). Les Misérables: The Musical Event of a Lifetime 25th Anniversary concert. (2010, 170 min.).

Spiritual Practice:
Check out these two books: The Gospel According to Les Misérables by Selena Sarns, the first five devotions of the 30 are focused on Valjean and the Bishop. The Grace of Les Misérables, Youth Study Book by Matt Rawle, contains study and discussion questions, activities and prayers. Sample questions from this book: “When has someone shown you incredible love and grace, even when you didn’t deserve?” “What relationships have given you a new outlook on life?” ”What temptations make it difficult for you to take up your cross daily and be a faithful follower of Christ?”

-- Douglas E. Sweet
The Lenten Fish Fry Dinner committee wants to say “Thank You” for your generous support of the 2020 Lenten dinners. Both your volunteering and your support of the first responders and the Zuni & neighborhood contributions for free dinners were outstanding.

Because the Covid-19 virus shut us down after only two dinners, we will be very limited on the profits that we can give to organizations that feed the hungry of Albuquerque, including our very own St. John’s UMC Food Ministry.

We would like to use your donations for first responders, the Zuni school/neighborhood, and the donations from the online Bible study to add to the limited funds we have this year to help feed those in need throughout the coming year. However, we felt that if you donated as listed above, we need to ask your permission to take this course of action. So, if you agree with this approach, you do not need to do anything. If you would like your donation returned to you, please contact either Wayne Shirley at 294-1018 or or Doris Bowen at 299-6570 or

Please respond to us by April 28, 2020 if funds need to be returned. Otherwise we will add the remaining donations to the profits to be distributed as we normally do.

You all are indeed a blessing to St. John’s UMC and our Albuquerque community!!!

-- Donna Bruce
St. John’s will live-stream a worship service 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
Online Classes
The announcements below include using the program "Zoom" to group-video chat. You can find a tutorial on how to use Zoom HERE!

Wednesdays at 1:30 pm
Log in and have coffee (or tea) and chat with Pastors Pam and Kelly! Zoom link HERE. Wednesdays at 1:30 pm.

Thursdays at 1:30 pm
Join Pastor Pam for a 30-minute spiritual exercise. Space is limited, and the Zoom link will be provided to the first 15 people to sign up! Sign-up is HERE. Thursdays at 1:30 pm.
As part of our outreach during this unsettling time, the Music Ministry has launched “Music From St. John’s,” a series of video performances by local musicians. This is an effort to continue to provide beautiful music to our congregation and community, and also to provide work to local musicians who have been severely affected by cancelations. New videos will appear daily for the foreseeable future, and they are being created by Shea Perry. We hope you’ll enjoy and share the videos, and also consider making a donation to the New Mexico Musicians Relief Fund. The easiest way to view the videos is to go to the St. John’s Music Ministries Facebook page. Check back daily!
In accordance with the New Mexico Department of Health order, our facility will be closed through April 30. 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!
Casa Esperanza has suspended volunteer dinners. Instead, they have asked for monetary donations. St. John's has a Casa Esperanza fund, please note "Casa Esperanza" on your check or on your online donation. For each $150.00 donation, Casa Esperanza will purchase dinner for the residents. Casa Esperanza is working with St. John's and local businesses, to provide meals. Questions?? Please contact Jenn Shields at or 505-450-9978.

Family Promise has decided to keep the families at Church of the Good Shepherd until May. Since we are not hosting in April, Family Promise is asking for money to help off set the costs. Checks sent to St. John's can be noted "Family Promise" or you can donate online directly to Family Promise here. If you are willing to donate games, gift cards, lawn chairs, mini refrigerator, microwave, the use of an RV or rental home for housing families, please contact Jenn Shields. If you have other questions, please contact either Linn Furnish at - 505-884-6626 OR Jenn Shields at - 505-450-9978.

Each year the funds we raise during the Lenten/Easter season go to many local ministries. A sample of those includes the following: Family Promise, Grace Meal, Asbury Pie Cafe, Wesley House, McCurdy Ministries, NM Ramp Project, Mobile Food Pantry, lunch bags for the homeless, Breaking Bread Meals, Silver Horizons and many more. In these difficult times these ministries need our help more than ever. Please give generously.
Please come to pray in the labyrinth any time of day. Park in the east parking lot near the front doors of the sanctuary/narthex doors. Our prayer labyrinth is directly to the south of the front doors. It is advisable to have one person on the labyrinth at a time. Enter the prayer labyrinth with a personal prayer and then quietly and contemplatively experience what God has to share with you during this time.
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.

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.
Congregational Care Corner

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:

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
Contact Us
(505) 883-9717
2626 Arizona St NE | Albuquerque, NM 87110
Office Hours: Monday - Thursday, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Questions? Contact Shea Perry at