I turned forty this year. In fact, this will be the only year when I will be the age of the number of days of Lent. It’s my 40/40. So naturally, I’ve been thinking over the best stories in my life thus far. It’s a not-by-much, post New Year’s reflective moment. And it made me think. That’s the purpose of Lent. Why do we do Lent at all? It’s to tell the best stories of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection all in a concentrated span of 40 days. It leads to the surprising climax of the Cross. And the second surprise that in the denouement comes Resurrection from the empty tomb . It’s the best stories from the greatest story ever told. And we get to tell it , and sing it, and ritualize it, and tell it again. It is finished. And Christ is Risen. In a bit of calendar peculiarity, Ash Wednesday, the day we remember that we are dust and that to dust we will return, we also celebrate the commercial day of love—Valentine’s Day. And if that doesn’t tickle you enough, this year Easter, the day of Resurrection glory, is also April by Pastor Jon Fool’s Day! Are the Apostle Paul’s works tickling your ears too? “Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19). You’re welcome for providing you with Biblical proof to use to justify pranking someone on April 1! But in all seriousness, have you ever tried to explain to a non-believer or atheist how much God means to you and how much He has blessed your life? It’s not an easy task. One might say it’s a fool’s game. But I, for one, will keep playing at it. I’ll keep coming back to hear the best stories of how God shows up in Christ to show profound love to the world, through what we all know too well, human suffering. I’ll keep showing up to get my feet washed, to wave palms, to strip an altar, and to sing Jesus Christ is Risen Today like a prisoner stepping in to the light of the first day of freedom. Won’t you join me?
Connection Fair - February 18th
Do you long to connect with others and find a place where you belong at St. John’s? Do you want to join a small group? Do you have an idea for a small group that you would like to lead? Are you a leader of a small group that is willing to expand? God has created us for community and connection. Join us on Sunday, February 18 at 1 pm, in Oehler Hall, for a light lunch served by Steven Johnson at our first-ever Connections Fair! Come and hear us debunk some of the myths around small groups, followed by a brief exercise in self-identifying as a small group leader or joiner, brainstorming in those groups, and seeing what matches emerge. Our hope is to facilitate more places where people can feel like they belong with others in Christian community. Bring your energy and new ideas! Start a new Bible Study. Join a runners group. Lead an intergenerational cooking group. You are only limited by your imagination (the one that God blessed you with!). If you are unable to join us on February 18, we will have another Connections Fair on May 27 during the education hour from 10:15-11:15 am also in Oehler Hall.
Pastor Jon and Rebekah Turnbaugh
by Gwynnae Byrd
On January 7, we held the first of our planned quarterly “Council Chats.” Senior Pastor Frank Espegren and Council President Gwynnae Byrd led the informal meeting, in an effort to increase direct communications with members. Staff and council members were introduced in order to ‘put faces to names’. Topics discussed included: the on-going strategic work of the council, including planning for 2018 and beyond; technical issues such as phone and IT problems; revitalization of committees and discussion of their responsibilities; introduction of the latest staff Organization Chart; and, the 3rd “inspirer” position (rostered leader). We are also in the process of revising our Constitution and bylaws, in an effort to accurately reflect our current operating practices. We discussed the fact that we are a “7-day-a-week church” and all that implies to operating the business aspects of the church. The next Council Chat will be on April 8 during the education hour. We invite you to join us, to continue the discussion, and to answer more questions about who we are and what we are doing. Also, you are invited to email Gwynnae at Gwynnaeb@gmail.com with any questions or comments you may have.
FACES OF CHRIST – LENTEN SERIES
By Rebekah Turnbaugh
Faces of Christ: A Lenten Study Lent is a season of reflection and preparation for the coming Easter celebration. Join us as we look at the Christ we have come to know in the gospels,what it could mean to be the body of Christ, and where-or in whom-we see Christ in the world today.The 5-week study will begin Sunday, February 18 during the education hour.Please join us!
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday
Please join us on Wednesday,February 14
• 7-9 am – ‘Ashes to Go’ on the front steps
• 12:15 pm - Mid-Week Service
• 7 pm – Traditional Ash Wednesday Service
By Diane White
When Modesto native Rebekah Turnbaugh arrived in Sacramento in 2009, she had been actively searching for a church home where she could allow herself, as she phrases it, “the permission to embrace her progressivism and her faith.” What she experienced upon her arrival at St. John’s was much more of a welcome than the generic version that Rebekah had experienced in her visits to other churches. She credits Pastor Frank as being the “embodiment of that welcome,” as he openly invited her questions about worship, faith, and Christian community – something she appreciated having come from a faith background where questions or doubts were not acceptable. In 2011, Rebekah became a member of the very first Luminaria class. Little did Rebekah or Pastor Frank realize that this Lumen would ultimately become an inspiring lay leader and staff member.
Rebekah’s journey to Sacramento and to her position as St. John’s Community Organizer was not a direct trajectory, but one that has allowed her to fuse her passion for social justice with her faith practice. Rebekah spent most of her childhood in Modesto with her parents, a younger brother, and an older sister. She attended Modesto Junior College and transferred to California State University Stanislaus where she earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology. Her long-standing commitment to social justice led to her enrollment in Loyola University Chicago’s master's degree program in this subject area where she came to an understanding of herself as being part of a marginalized identity, but also an appreciation that her experience of marginalization, as a disabled person, is not identical to the experiences of other marginalized people.After completing her graduate degree, Rebekah returned to California and worked in the Reinvent South Stockton program, a program designed to infuse resources into the rebuilding of the South Stockton Promise Home. While she was thoroughly committed to the mission of this program, this organization, like so many non-profits, could not offer stable or reliable employment. So, when St. John’s began its search for a Community Organizer Rebekah was intrigued and energized by the prospect of working at her church in a position that would fully integrate her values, faith, education, and training. Nonetheless, the decision to leave her position in Stockton was a difficult one to make, but clarity came at a Luminaria class session during which a discussion arose about privilege and the fear of letting go of privilege. It was then she realized that she could do something at St. John’s to help those who wish to fuse their faith and values through social justice actions. Stockton had people to do this, but we did not. Fortunately for all of us, we now have Rebekah to provide us with numerous new ways to live God’s love in the world.
In just the last year that Rebekah has been on the St. John’s staff she has helped us connect to each other and to our community, as well as too many service opportunities. So, if you have not yet met Rebekah, please treat yourself to an opportunity to connect with this amazing St. John’s member and staff, who is most truly a blessing to us all.
Members to Attend Stephen Leader Training
by Cindy Carroll
Stephen Ministry, which began 10 years ago when Pastor Frank, two staff members and four lay members attended the Stephen Series Leader Training Course, is an integral part of congregational care at St. John’s.A Stephen Leader is one who desires and actively pursues a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and is a committed member of St. John’s.
A Stephen Leader enjoys people and is willing to meet the needs of others, is willing to learn and grow and to depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance. Our Stephen Ministry program is directed by our Stephen Leader Team. Our Stephen Leaders recruit, select, train, organize and support our Stephen Ministers. They help identify people in need of care and match them with a Stephen Minister, and they also build awareness regarding Stephen Ministry in our congregation and community.
We are also pleased to announce that on February 4, Pastor Jon, Lyla Hanson, a current Stephen Minister, and Debra Cribbins, a lay member, will be traveling to Anaheim to participate in the seven-day Leader’s Training Course. These new Stephen Leaders will bring fresh, new ideas to the current leader team and will also provide some of our leaders with a much needed rest. Additionally, we wish to give praise and thanks to Tom and Candace Cox who will be stepping down from their roles on the leader team. They have served as Stephen Leaders and Stephen Ministers for the past 10 years. However, they will continue in their roles as Stephen Ministers. Please pray for safe travel and a spirit-filled learning experience for Pastor Jon, Lyla and Debra. We look forward to the blessings their training will bring to our Stephen Ministry program.
COMMUNITY EASTER MEAL
Volunteers are needed to serve our meal to the community on the day before Easter. Donations of lasagna, bread and salad, servers, set-up and cleanup are needed.
Come serve the community on March 31 as we get ready to celebrate the Resurrection!
Contact the church office or sign up online:
by Cindy Carroll and Suzi Taylor
With the flu season in full swing, we would like to discuss some ways for you to remain healthy. Some have expressed concern about shaking or holding hands with others during the greeting, sharing the peace and the Lord’s Prayer. The pastors and parish nurses want to assure you that if you do not wish to shake or hold hands during the greeting at the beginning of the service, sharing the peace or during the Lord’s Prayer, it is perfectly acceptable to cross your arms over your chest and simply use a vocal response. Even a slight bow, nod of the head, or an elbow bump is acceptable. Others will understand your choice. The only entry into the human body for both respiratory and GI germs is through the facial mucous membranes, i.e., your eyes, nose and mouth. Here are some helpful tips for preventing the spread of the flu:
How to Protect Yourself and Others
DO NOT touch your eyes, nose and mouth (the T Zone)
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Carry and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel (when you don’t have immediate access to soap and water)—rub hands until dry.
Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm.
Stay home and limit contact with others if you are sick (except to seek medical attention) and remain home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Seek medical attention if you are very sick and worried about your illness
It’s NOT too late to get vaccinated – everyone 6 months and older should get a yearly flu vaccination.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of the parish nurses.