September 12, 2020

“For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord.” (Isaiah 51:3)

In Part 1, I defined wilderness as anyplace where we feel vulnerable or disoriented, where the familiar has been stripped away and we have to deal with the unknown. We explored experiences in the wilderness from the first five books of the Bible and realized that, though scary, these experiences can also lead to valuable changes such as increased faith, dependence on God, and reorganized priorities. If the first few books of the Bible are so rich on this topic, what does the rest of the book hold for us?!

Most of the rest of the Old Testament is about the counterbalance to wilderness: the establishment of order. From a loose confederation of tribes, a nation with a king emerges. The portable tabernacle of the wilderness days is transformed into a magnificent temple. Towns and cities are built and populated with all their conveniences. There are many crises of leadership, of course, and the prophets of Israel occasionally find themselves in the wilderness. For example, Elijah is all alone and despairing when he hears the still, small voice. But nothing is as devastating as the destruction of Jerusalem and exile into Babylonia during the Sixth Century B.C. “How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” the Psalmist laments (137:4). The last part of the Old Testament deals with this crisis including the ignored warnings of Jeremiah, the experiences in exile of Ezekiel and Daniel, and then the restoration, glorious in concept but miserably hard to execute. The Hebrew people in exile learn to worship in new ways (the synagogue) and start to seriously collect and edit their scriptures since they need to keep the traditions alive in the diaspora. The temple is rebuilt, but the religion is changing.

And no one changes it more than the rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus. But his way is prepared by a New Testament prophet who calls for radical repentance, John the Baptist. Where does John preach: in the wilderness. He calls people away from their comfortable ways (dressing the part like Ezekiel in skins and eating locusts) and calling for a radical change that is best accomplished in the wilderness, where the familiar is gone and only God is available. Jesus has his own time in the wilderness right after he is baptized by John. There he meets Satan, the tempter, who dangles the three P’s in front of him: Power (‘turn these stones to bread’), Prestige (‘jump from the temple’), and Pride (‘all the kingdoms of the world will bow down.’) That is the threat of the wilderness: without civilization and its harnesses, our egos can fly free, and if we don’t find God, we’ll find the Devil! But notice how Jesus meets each temptation: with a phrase of scripture. The Word of God vanquishes Satan.

A synonym for wilderness in scripture is the desert. And in English there is a revealing play on words: We often end up in the desert when we desert God! Jeremiah, the prophet of the destruction of Jerusalem, sees the fruitful land turned into a desert (4:26) and the people scattered like chaff before a desert wind (13:24) because of the people’s sin. But another prophet, Isaiah, promises restoration: streams in the desert (35:6) and (as quoted at the beginning) transforming the desert back into the Garden of Eden. There is a divine process at

work in the wilderness experience: transformation through deprivation and restoration through a renewal of the covenant with God.

Probably the journey into the wilderness that we all fear the most is dying. Death is the ultimate unknown. And here, finally, is most precious of biblical messages: God is with us, even (especially?) on the death journey. As in most things, Jesus is our guide. Look at his final days: final supper with friends, who can’t come with him. Arrest and humiliation that he simply endures since resistance is futile. Agony on the cross as he faces despair (‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) He summons forgiveness (“Forgive them, they know not what they do’), and then releases his soul to God (“Into your hands I commend my spirit.”) The whole biblical experience of the wilderness is here: abandonment of the familiar, disorientation and despair, clinging to God, and the rebuilding of meaning on a stronger foundation of grace.

Can we learn to recognize the signs of a wilderness experience (fear, threat, feeling adrift) and rather than being overwhelmed, look for the old things we need to let go of and the new things we need to embrace? Before we accuse God of deserting us, can we look to ways we may have deserted God?

-- Jack Nuzum
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 5:00 pm

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.

Click HERE for an order of worship.
FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS... A Biblical Reflection
This month we start a new EDisciple series called “From My Family to Yours…A Biblical Reflection.” Every Saturday we will be hearing from some of our families from St. John’s and getting an idea of their pandemic experience. Shea Perry has taken some beautiful family portraits from each family’s front porch so that we can know each other more and grow as a church family. If you are interested in contributing to this series and have some great pics taken, please contact

Blessings and Joy, Therese Macali
Director of Children and Family Ministries
Assistant Music Director
Missing Our Family
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” – John 16:22

There was an unspoken adoption between the Marshalls and I about 15 years ago. Their daughter and I became best friends and it turned into a lifelong engagement between their family and mine. Joe and Anna are now Grandma and Grandpa to my boys, Danielle is their Aunt, and our holidays are filled with family despite our biological families living in Ohio. Recently Grandpa Joe came over for dinner. It was hard to keep a safe distance, but being together was still very nice. Dinner transitions quickly to bedtime with little ones. In the shower, I hear Gabe crying and saying, “I want more time with Grandpa Joe!”

Friends, we miss each other. We are made to be connected to one another and to be connected with God. This is a very real sorrow of right now. But we will see each other again, even if it is only on Zoom. And when we do our hearts will rejoice! Just think of the rejoicing when we are together with God in heaven! As restrictions come and go and come back again, remember the joy shared until we can be together again.

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.
Click HERE to view the poll!
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.
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.
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
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