Click here for an easy-to-print PDF of the December Spokesman.
By Pastor Jon Haug
Home. It is one of the most nostalgic words in the human language. In English it even sounds like the word “Mom” or the chanted “Om” of mediation and yoga classes. It evokes powerful emotion in us, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, and everything in between. It’s where we first learn about love and hurt. It’s where we get our first impressions of what God is like. And it is not, when we are born, a place we choose, but a place we enter in.
Very recently I went back to NJ, the state of my birth, to preside at the funeral of a beloved uncle, Richard Broadhead. He was just in in sixties and died from complications with pneumonia. Uncle Rich was at all my childhood events growing up. I loved him deeply, even more than I realized as I found myself in the mysterious and deep work of grieving his death. My beloved Aunt Lori asked me to preside at his funeral and after some debate I consented. Pastor Frank, without question blessed me to go. I’m so glad I did, in spite of never wanting to and always wishing I didn’t have to, because it was one of the greatest and most profound honors and experiences of my life.
On the trip to north Jersey for the funeral from south Jersey where my parents and my sister's family live, I found myself traveling in the back seat of the car with my sister with my parents in the front seats. That arrangement hadn’t happened in decades since my childhood. I thought about annoying my sister just for old times sake but resisted.
We ended up with extra time before the funeral and since it was taking place in tghe town next to the town I grew up in we took a little nostalgic tour. My parent laughed as my sister and I recalled friends and families homes: “The Rinaldi’s lived there. That’s where the Penta’s lived and the Wilson’s. And there the Scarillo’s (there’s a good NJ last name for you just in case you forgot the context for a minute).Then we drove to where my home used to be. I say used to be because when we sold it the new owners knocked it down and rebuilt a mammoth house on top of it.I hadn’t been back to see it since.Home lifts in us indescribable emotions and memories as it did for me those recent days in NJ.
What does home mean to you?
At St. John’s, we’ll be exploring the nuances of home from now through the summer:We began with the idea of Home Improvement as we kicked off the Capital Campaign for the roof here in November.
• In December for Advent and Christmas, we’ll explore the theme of First Home.
• In Epiphany on January 6 and the time after into February, we’ll have some look at what Coming Home means.
• In Lent, we’ll all have some Homework as we deconstruct and reconstruct home.
• And at Pentecost through this summer, get ready for some Open House experiences.The leadership here is excited and invested in this theme and we hope that we provide for you a place of powerful spiritual experiences and deep commitments.
Congregation Matters recap
By Gwynnae Byrd
During our final Congregation Matters meeting of the year, the Constitution and Bylaws Revision Committee presented proposed changes to our governing documents. I convened the committee to review both documents, which hadn’t been amended in over 10 years. The key changes, which were approved at this meeting, are:
- Adds an Endowment Fund, to be ready to accept gifts from estates and other sources
- Changes the percentage of the budget that the cumulative expenditures and obligations incurred by the council in any given year may not exceed the projected receipts in that year by, from 5 to 10%, without prior approval of the congregation
- Authorizes the Immediate Past President to serve on the Executive Committee
- Updates our Constitution to conform with the national ELCA Constitution The other items discussed at the meeting included updates on the roof and parking lot projects, and on the Capital Campaign to fund them; an update on the Call Committee (awaiting action from the synod); and a review of the initiatives that came out of the council retreat/strategic planning session in late summer.
Those initiatives include establishing 2 new committees - one to address homelessness and the other to take a long-term view of campus planning. If anyone is interested in either of those issues, please contact me and I will make sure you are plugged in!
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have – (916) 202-1297.
I wish you all a blessed Advent and Christmas season!
Santa Lucia Festival
By Barbara Winter
Santa Lucia Festival Committee
It’s happened before and this year there were two well-deserving candidates. We will have two young ladies represent Santa Lucia, both with busy lives, but both with the essence of Santa Lucia.
Keilani Aldrete and Kathryn Mercer will both represent Santa Lucia this December 16th at St. John's for the Santa Lucia Festival. Keilani (daughter of James and Caroline Aldrete) is a senior at Pleasant Grove High School where she is active in school activities and extra-curricular sports. At St John’s, she is a loved and hugged volunteer with the younger children and several youth programs. She is an Acolyte and gave a thoughtful sermon on Youth Sunday. She has applied to Cal Lutheran, CSU Sacramento and CSU Chico for career studies. Her parents are James and Caroline Aldrete.
Kathryn ( daughter of Steven and Heather Mercer) is a senior at McClatchy High School where she is also very active in school and extra-curricular activities, including theater. At St John’s she is very busy with several groups, a loved and hugged volunteer, including Acolyte Program. She is in the process of applying to several state and out of state universities. Everyone is invited to the Scandinavian Festival of Santa Lucia, hosted by St John's Lutheran Church!
Candlelight service begins at 5pm. Light appetizers, traditional cookies and Scandinavian festivities to follow with music, dancing around the tree and more!
To contribute to the evening:
Homemade cookies are welcomed by 3pm December 16th.
Any remaining cookies will be donated to St. John's Coffee Hour and Food Pantry.
Advent Gift to the Christ Child
By Maryann Hanner
In my role as a Spiritual Care Volunteer at Kaiser, I visited recently with a young woman in the hospital. She told me she was dying, and had about four months to live. I asked her if she could share how she felt.
After a long pause, and a sigh, she said, "Being with God will be good." She sighed again. "But the dying, the dying will be the hard part."
This woman was homeless. Her pain was so excruciating that she had gone to the emergency room. She was admitted not only for the pain, but other complications of her illness.
As we chatted, I learned what the "hard part" of dying really meant. She had been temporarily staying with friends, but she explained that accompanying a dying person is difficult for the best of people. Her pain and complications were worsening, and she couldn't get effective pain medication or care for herself.
Imagine if she were alone on the streets, in so much pain that she couldn't walk, trying to find a bathroom, food, water and a place to safely lie down.
A place for such people, Joshua’s House, is opening in the Sacramento area. During education hour on Sunday, December 16, Marlene Fitzwater, founder and CEO, will be sharing her vision and why she is so passionate about this center. This year's Gift to the Christ Child will go to Joshua’s House. If we are able to raise $25,000, St. John's will serve as a sponsor for the chapel.
God heard all the prayers for this young woman. Two weeks later, her “hard part” was over.
Join us Sunday, December 16 at 10:15am to hear more about Joshua's House.
Click here to watch an in-depth story on Joshua's House.
The "Grape-ful" jelly crew was at it again recently making jars of our delicious grape jelly. What we love about this so much is that it is made from the leftover grapes from our communion crush - grapes that might normally be discarded (Special thanks to the The Kirchhoff family for generously donating a corner of their vineyard). The jelly is sold and the proceeds go to the Sacramento Central Food Basket.
We think this is most appropriate: the potentially discarded grapes get a a second chance and the proceeds give families dealing with hunger a hand up for their food insecurity. What a wonderful ministry and a wonderful and faithful crew of jammers!
I'm Home at St. John's
By Sarah Jessop Street
Youth and Family Ministry Coordinator
Our family feels at home at St John's because all are welcome here. This was mostly recently demonstrated as we planned our daughter, Cora's, baptism. Having been a part of Celebration Singers for several years, I knew I wanted to have a sung baptism and also knew just how special and Spirit-filled they can be. Music is so important to me and Steven's bapistmal setting adds something to the sacrament that I didn't know was missing until I felt the fullness that it brings. We were excited to share this day with our family and friends, which meant that invitations were extended to people of many backgrounds: Lutheran and Mormon, Baptist and Buddhist, Catholic and Agnostic, churched and unchurched, we knew that all people would feel welcomed and loved at St John's. It is that love and welcome that keeps us connected to this church. It is what gives us certainty that it is the right place to raise our daughter. And it is what reaffirms my choice to live and work in this place. The people of St John’s have been able to truly “Live God’s Love in the World” and that’s what makes it home for us.
By Cindy Carroll, RN
December is a month filled with family gatherings, eager anticipation, special services and programs, and extra fellowship. Despite our best intentions, we can find ourselves hurried, harried, and exhausted. There are several things we can do to minimize stress so that we can enjoy the holidays and our families.
Make a list of all the things you and your family like - and dislike - about the holidays. Build your own
traditions around the highest-scoring "likes."
Take care of your body.
Get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day - even brisk walking is great.
Stop eating when you are full - but don't skip meals, either.
Allow yourself a few holiday treats, but don't overdo.
Get plenty of sleep.
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Limit alcoholic drinks to one or two a day.
Of course, do not drink and drive, and fasten your seat belt.
Take time out to take care of your spirit. Do at least one thing each day to unplug and get away from holiday preparations. Read a book, watch a holiday movie, listen to holiday music, enjoy a cup of tea, but most importantly, spend time with those you love each day.
Realize that you are not solely responsible for making the holidays special for everyone else. Stop
comparing yourself to others. Do the holidays your way!
Don't accept every invitation you receive, or you'll run yourself ragged. It's OK to send your regrets.
Give time and friendship rather than presents. Share yourself with family, friends and the community by volunteering.
Keep your sense of humor. Remember a cheerful heart is good medicine.
Gratitude! Count your blessings each and every day.
Peace and Joy to all this Christmas season!
Thank you to Steven Johnson for creating this memorable experience for St. John's! We were honored to host the first ever Unity Concert to kick off #BuildforUnity 2019, presented by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento.
Special thanks to keynote speaker Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as well as our Celebration Singers, the Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus, Sacramento Children's Chorus, and all of our faith representatives from across the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian community who lent their passion and voices to help us come together in unity and song.
Every Christmas Eve we decorate our beautiful Sanctuary with gorgeous poinsettias to enhance our worship experience. You may purchase a poinsettia and dedicate it to a loved one, living or passed, or to the Glory of God, and have your dedication printed in the Christmas Eve bulletin; to do so, please fill out the tear-out in the announcement page of the bulletin during the season of Advent and place it in the offering plate. If you'd like to purchase online, go to the "giving" section of our website, and notate your dedication in the notes section. All dedications must be received by Tuesday, December 18th in order to be published in the bulletin.
If you have any questions about poinsettias, please email Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE
Find the perfect Christmas gift and help a Rwandan child attend the Rwamagana Lutheran School. Baskets, jewelry and so many unique and interesting items will be available for purchase. This is a win/win situation for the St. John’s youth who run Cafe Rwanda and the students they support in Rwanda with scholarships to attend this high quality secondary school.
Our own Christina Espegren and her husband Joel Barkel worked in the Peace Corps in Rwanda the past two years and picked up many of these items on their travels. Join us Sunday, December 9th at 10:15am at St. John's!
Candles and Carols Concert
Please join us the evening of Saturday, December 15th at 7pm, for an evening of fun and beautiful music celebrating the Christmas season! Our Candles and Carols concert will be held in the Sanctuary, and will be featuring the choirs of St. John's, the Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus, and lots of other fun surprises from the amazingly talented musicians in our church community. Come prepared to sing along to some favorite carols and to hear many beautiful holiday selections be performed. We can't wait to see you there!
Christmas Eve for Travelers
If you can’t worship with us on Christmas Eve, join us for Christmas Eve for Travelers. Our first Christmas Eve worship service will be on December 17 at 7pm. We will have a candlelight service with carols, choirs & our traveling members in our pews worshiping the coming of the baby Jesus.