August 11, 2020

“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18: 28

Researching light and dark in the Bible, I was astounded at the extent of the imagery. Perhaps it is because we humans are such visual creatures. In the daylight, we can see our surroundings, confidently perceive our path, receive and process information quickly. But in the dark, we are fearful because we can’t be sure who or what is out there. We are normally sleeping in our beds, and anything out and about at night probably is up to no good. Dark places like caves, deep woods or jungles, ocean depths, outer space (or the unconscious mind?!) are at once potential threats and places of great interest and new information. So, the richness of dark and light symbolism in scripture shouldn’t be surprising since it helps us express some of life’s deepest realities: fear and security; ignorance and knowledge; despair and hope; evil and righteousness; death and life. I’ll try to tease out these various strands, but they are braided together in scripture in ways that reflect the complexity of our lives. For readability, I’ll divide this devotion into two parts. Today, let’s deal with the light of understanding and the darkness of despair. Next time, we’ll tackle the mystery of God as both wrapped in darkness and creating light.

Let’s start with the very common Biblical theme of the light of understanding. We see it in David’s line above from Psalm 18. Most commonly, understanding is realizing God’s path, which breaks like morning light. Our paths are illuminated by God’s word; God’s commandments are a lamp unto our feet. The wicked walk in darkness, but the children of God walk in the light. God’s justice shines bright like noonday. Isaiah predicts that God’s servant will come and bring a light to the nations and lead the blind. Jesus, fulfilling this prophecy, calls himself the ‘light of the world’ as he reveals God’s ways that lead to the light of life. He heals the physically blind and tries to awaken the spiritually blind. He also calls on us to let our lights shine so the world can see our good works. Paul is blinded by a light on the road to Damascus and three days later, when his sight is restored, he can see his way forward to become a light to the Gentiles, whose mind are darkened because they have no thanks or honor towards God. Often the light of understanding comes at night in a dream or vision: Jacob sees a stairway to heaven; Solomon, Samuel, Joseph the Dreamer in the Old Testament and Joseph the father in the New Testament, all receive divine instructions at night that bring them insight for the day. Nicodemus comes at night to learn how he must be born again from above. Finally, John warns us that “Whoever says, ‘I am in the light, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.’”(I John 2:9) Throughout the Bible, the darkness of ignorance and sin is transformed by acts of God’s grace into a clearer understanding of the righteous path.

A second common scriptural use of light and dark is when describing despair and the fear of death. Several characters recount sleepless nights of tears. Psalm 23 describes walking through the dark valley of death. The Psalmists and others fear the dark pit of Sheol, the afterlife of the cultures of the Old Testament. Sometimes God feels very distant and the fearful reality of death very near. No one feels this more than Job, and the character of Job illustrates his despair by reversing the light/dark imagery. His good life is now darkened. He looked for good and evil came; he waited for light and got darkness. His depression is so great that he longs for Sheol and just wants to ‘spread his couch in darkness.” His false comforters say that all Job needs to do is admit his sins, but Job claims he has done nothing to deserve his suffering, and he is right! The answer Job gets from God isn’t tremendously satisfying intellectually: “I’m God and you’re not.” But the honesty of God’s answer and the fact that God makes the effort to appear to Job is a kind of light: a comfort and vindication. Life is a riddle and while specific answers might not be clear, the one scriptural insight we have is the reality of God’s love through whatever happens. That is the light of life, the light Jesus brought into the world and illustrated by going through the valley of death and resurrecting on the other side.

When we feel lost morally, do we grab hold of the lamp of God’s word to find our path? When we are in the valley of fear and death, do we cling to God’s promise of love and life both in this life and the next? Do the cultural biases of light as positive and dark as negative subconsciously affect how we view other people of different colors?

-- Jack Nuzum
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, and I will share them here and compile them for a project! communicate@stjohns-abq.org
-- Shea Perry, Communications Director
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)
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.
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 mgreer@stjohns-abq.org.
Saturday, August 15 | 7:30 am

Mountain Cathedrals “Corrales Acequias and Bosque Preserve” a reflection on Psalm 104

This month, we walk on land “set aside” near the Rio Grande River. In 2016, the Audubon New Mexico declared the Corrales Bosque to be an important avian habitat to over 250 species of birds, where 662 acres on the west side of the river host protections for owls, hummingbirds, sparrows, crows and Cooper’s hawks. Psalm 104 comes to mind, a place where…

“the trees of the Lord are watered abundantly… in them the birds build their nests…”

As Christians, we are called to be holy, to be “set aside” for God and in service to God. Through our service to God we are invited into relationship with God, with our neighbors, and with creation. In this way, we are all connected to the goodness of God’s creation.

So this is your invitation, to step into God’s restoring grace-giving presence, as beloved children, to walk into a creation that is God’s place of renewal and wonder. An invitation to practice the means of grace, sharing communion, reflecting on scripture, and walking in prayer… in God’s creation… or as Charles Wesley wrote an invitation to become “lost in wonder, love and praise”.

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures… they all look to you…
when you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.”

Join us Saturday, August 15th, 7:30 am at St John’s east parking. We will then travel to Corrales, parking near the Fire Department (will announce exact location soon). Please bring a mask to wear and have available as we hike. Parking may be restricted there. We will not carpool. If you would like to meet us there please arrive by 8 am at the trailhead.

Peace and grace,
Mike Furnish and Kelly Giese
Saturday, August 29 | 5:00 - 7:00 pm

Let’s rally together for the need of others! On Saturday, August 29, 5:00 – 7:00 pm in the east parking lot of St. John’s United Methodist Church (2626 Arizona NE), the Missions’ Team will be collecting any of the following items for Silver Horizons and the Four Corners Ministry:

·     Any non-perishable food
·     Toilet paper
·     Paper towels
·     Facial tissues
·     Hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, men’s and women’s deodorants, toothpaste)
·     Bottled water

So, every time you go shopping this month or have products delivered to you, think about these two organizations and pick up some extra items. We’ll collect all these items on Saturday, August 29th!

If you’d rather give $$ instead of buying the products yourself, you can bring it that night, mail it to the church, or go to the St. John’s online giving. If you want the $$ split between the two organizations, write “Drive-in, Drop-off” in the memo field. If you’d rather it would go to an individual organization write either “Silver Horizons” or “Four Corners Ministry.”

The Missions’ Team thanks you so much for your generosity!!!

Thursday, August 6
  • Casa Esperanza—30 meals

Sunday, August 9
  • Community of Hope—80 meals

Saturday, August 15
  • Serenam—9 families

Sunday, August 16
  • Community of Hope—80 meals

Friday, August 21
  • Casa Esperanza—30 meals

Tuesday, August 25
  • HopeWorks—200 meals
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!

Sundays | 4:00 - 5:15 pm
IT IS SUMMER, and we have a new series for students exploring new games, discussions, and faith-building activities every Sunday from 4:00-5:15PM! Go to: bit.ly/Summer2020UMYF (case sensitive) password if needed is 233374. NEW SUMMER URL
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 tmacali@stjohns-abq.org for more information!
Thursdays | 1:30 pm -- Starting August 6th
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.
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.
This Zoom genealogy class is for people who have amassed a lot of family information and are wondering what to do next. It will not teach introductory genealogy or memoir writing. Some of the types of manuscripts to be considered include ancestral reports, descendancy reports, biographies, and edited letters or diaries. Each class will be one to two hours long, depending on the topic. Weekly assignments will be given, and in six weeks, students will have all of the major parts of a family-history manuscript and an abbreviated version of the content. The cost will be $10 per person, which will go to the UMW. A minimum of 6 people will be required for the class; a maximum of 12 Zoom connections will be accepted. A preliminary Zoom tutorial will be offered if needed. Check out the complete syllabus for topics and dates. Enroll by emailing Regina Hunter at drhunter@nmia.com or Terri Link at terrilink@comcast.net.
Congregational Care Corner
Stacie, John and Jack Ross are the recipients for the prayer quilt on display for August 3rd - 16th.

In lieu of tying knots, please pray this prayer (or your own prayer): “Father, we pray for safe travels and new adventures as Stacie, John and Jack embark on this new phase of their lives."

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: mapalook@comcast.net 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 c.care@stjohns-abq.org

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 counselor@stjohns-abq.org 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 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 stephenministry@stjohns-abq.org
  School at UNM will be starting soon in some form this year. It will be an stressful time for all students, so our opportunity to financially support Wesley House, for both the students who live there and those who participate in other Wesley Foundation programs is more important than ever.

 Please pray for the students and their leaders as they reach out to other students on campus as well. Please pray that Wesley House may be a place where all may find God's love and peace in these difficult times. 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 communicate@stjohns-abq.org