December 19, 2020

How are your Christmas preparations going? Probably what you’re doing this year is really different from what you’ve always done. And maybe – just maybe – that’s okay. Let’s take a little time to think about which of our preparations might change permanently and for the better because of the pandemic we find ourselves in, and which of the old ways we can’t wait to get back to.

Today, for the first time, my husband used curbside pickup to get groceries for Christmas boxes for the John Marshal Community Center. In normal years, he buys a little here and a little there for weeks, and little sacks of groceries sit all over the house, waiting to be delivered. He walks on concrete floors, pushes carts around and through everyone else’s carts, and gets tired and achy. This year, I spent half an hour or so ordering online, he spent 45 minutes picking up the order without ever getting out of his car, and tonight everything except for a few perishables is ready. This is definitely better.

New Spirit’s annual Christmas party and outrageous white-elephant exchange was replaced by a Zoom get-together. No potluck, no tree, no items – I hesitate to call them gifts – that make us laugh and say “Oooo!” or “Boooo!” No time just to sit next to a friend and ask how things are going. No exchange of rave reviews and recipes. In short, none of the oneness that comes only from being together in one place. That aspect of the party was worse. But since we were meeting by Zoom, we were able to invite former members who live in Texas, Ohio, Colorado, and Missouri to join us. How wonderful to see them again! So the party had pros and cons.

My grandchildren and I have been decorating the tree and the house together for 14 or 15 years, ever since the elder was just old enough to help. This year it hardly seemed worth the effort of bringing ornaments up from the basement just to do it all myself, so I have a tree with the 23 ornaments that were handy. The ornaments all face the same direction on the tree, so as long I stay on this side, it looks fine. Well, it looks okay. This is definitely worse.

A strange thing happened to my shopping. I did almost all of it online, which meant I had to plan ahead. Ten days until Christmas, and ... I’m done? That’s odd. But so far this year I’ve read Christmas books by Dave Berry, Charles Dickens, Cleveland Armory, Henry Van Dyke, and Dorothy L. Sayers, and I’ve got several more lined up. This is excellent; usually I don’t have the time.

Jesus talked about the relative merits of the old and the new. “You can’t put a new patch on old clothes,” he says in Matthew 9:16-17. “The patch will shrink and tear the clothes. You can’t put new wine in old skins, because the new wine will burst the old skins.” Some of what we’re doing this year, especially when it keeps us from spending time with our family and friends, just isn’t compatible with our traditional celebration of the birth of Christ. We have to do it now in order to make sure that we’ll all be here next year, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it or do it again.

On the other hand, Jesus talked about evaluating both the old and the new and choosing the best of each. “Every student of the Scriptures who becomes a disciple is like a householder who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom” (Matthew 13:52). Some of the new ways of celebrating Christmas will be worth keeping. What will you put in your storeroom for next year?

An Advent Prayer:  
Dear Lord, this year we have some extra time on our hands. Help us use it to think about which of our old ways are treasures we want to keep, and which of our new ways are treasures we want to adopt. Above all, remind us always that you are our true treasure in heaven. Amen.

-- Regina Hunter
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
MOBILE FOOD PANTRY - Donations Welcome!
Mail your donation to the church or go online to give; please write COOKIES in the memo field of your check. For more info, contact Beth Zerwekh at
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!​
Lily - “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
Dan Wright - “Silent Night Revisited” & "Jingle Bells Revisited"
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.
Christmas at home
-- Ray & Dara Bell
Photos from in the sanctuary, taken by Pastor Pam!
Monday, December 21 | 9:00 am
Join St. John’s Music Director Matthew Greer for the last “Monday Morning Music” of 2020! He will welcome his good friend, pianist Amy Greer, for a discussion/argument about music of the season and beyond. Zoom link HERE.
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

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
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
(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