As 2018, the first year of St. John’s post-Sesquicentennial era, dawns, we gather under a new banner and theme - Connections! Over these last few years, over and over again, we have drawn inspiration from our past – St. John’s legacy of 150 years of faith. We have been served well by our connection to the past. For 2018, through our Connections theme, we hope to become better connected to what’s in front of us, and to all those who journey with us by our side.
Connections start with the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer – our God is gloriously defined in this connected way! Through the saving work of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are connected to God’s divine work. Our life of faith completely relies on this blessed connectedness.
What, then, does this mean? Well, for a start, Connections really isn’t so much a theme, as a descriptor of our life together. And if we truly see and live into our faith, this connection we have with God, connection after connection will open up to us.
For if we are connected to one another, how can we better utilize this gift? It begins on Sunday mornings at the end of the worship announcements, when either Pastor Jon or I say, “Christian community is a gift we do not take for granted here at St. John’s. So please rise, greet your neighbor, and use your name, make sure all have been welcomed to St. John’s.” That is a first step of worship, our shared life of faith. In 2018, we promise to creatively and productively work on these Connections with each other.
Also, we will seek out and develop our Connections with ministry partners – people and entities committed to the work of Living God’s Love in the World! And we will make a point of continuing to explore our Connections to the “Least of These,” the “Outcast,” and even our “Enemies,” as Jesus teaches and encourages us to do. Because in so doing, Jesus confides that the end result will be that we become better connected to Him.
Nurturing our Connections – our aspiration and our goal for 2018!! May it bless us each and every day.
Pastor Frank Espegren
READING WITH A PURPOSE--WHAT A GREAT NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION!
Make it a REALITY by joining the LLL Book Club every 3rd Friday, at 11am, in the church library. Here's what's on tap for 2018:
Jan 19: THE PROMISE OF A PENCIL, by Adam Brown. A highly successful businessman on a trip to India was confronted by a boy begging on the street--when asked what he wanted most he said, "A PENCIL." Adam Brown went on to found Pencils of Promise which has built over 200 schools worldwide--an inspiring true story.
Feb 16: THE WONDER, by Emma Donoghue--(the author of ROOM). This mystery novel takes place in 1850's Ireland--a nurse is sent to monitor a girl who claims to subsist only on "manna from heaven." A fascinating tale of superstition, science and faith.
Mar 16: EXCELLENT DAUGHTERS, by Katherine Zoepf--subtitled "The secret lives of the young women who are transforming the Arab world." A look at the themes of love, sex, shame, power and Islam. What will the future be like for women in the Arab world?
Apr 20: LIFE OF THE BELOVED, by Henri J.M. Nouwen--this book comes highly recommended by Pastor Frank--it is about spiritual living in a secular world--should continue the themes we discussed in FALLING UPWARD. We are hopeful that Pastor Frank will be able to join us!
Any questions about LLL Book Club? Contact Donna Shadle: Donna123aqui@hotmail.com
Ordination of Pastor Edward Makara
This month, Rhonda and I will be traveling to Rwanda to visit our daughter, Christina, and her husband, Joel, both of them serving in the Peace Corps in Rwanda. On behalf of St. John’s, we are excited to visit our Rwandan sister parish in Rukira as part of our journey. In addition, we will be visiting old friends, Pastor John Rutsindintwarane and his wife, Robin Strickler, who founded the Lutheran secondary school in Rwamagana, Rwanda.
As a sort of icing on the cake, we will be bringing a gift to Pastor Edward Makara, the most- recently ordained pastor by the Lutheran Church in Rwanda – ordained last year in November. Pastor Edward is very dear to St. John’s, as St. John’s is to Edward. Through a St. John’s Trust grant 7 years ago, St. John’s covered the expenses of 2 years of theological education in Uganda. Further, after a terrible motorcycle accident, St. John’s assisted Edward by helping to pay his medical expenses. During our visit, we will give Edward a stole (the vestment indicating ordination), and we also hope to give an additional monetary gift to assist Pastor Edward with an additional surgery he must undergo in 2018. If you wish to make a special gift to assist with St. John’s gift to Pastor Edward, please mark your gift as follows: “Rwanda Ordination.”
And please pray that we will have a wonderful and safe trip with our daughter in this journey to Africa!
Blessings, Pastor Frank
“My ever gratefulness for the generosity of St. John’s community towards my theological studies that have shaped me becoming a pastor. This call requires academics and though my level is not yet fit enough but at least sets a foundation for pastoral call. Thank you, and thanks to St. John’s community!”
Your brother in Christ Jesus
Education Hour 2018
Beginning on January 14, we will have a full schedule of educational offerings!
Sunday morning education hour (10:15 am) will include:
Luminaria – Discovering the Light of Christ Embracing those desiring membership here and bringing them into community with us.
LumiNEXT – a continuation of the Luminaria learning. This is the first session of many that will continue to explore God’s Word and how we live into it today.
How Lutherans Interpret the Bible, taught by Rev. Mike Meyer
You may attend this class either on Sundays at 10:15 am or Thursdays at 6:00 pm.
Dr. Mark Allan Powell is a Lutheran pastor and Bible professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio. In this seven-session video series Powell invites you to explore seven important questions about Lutherans and the Bible. He does not prescribe “the Lutheran way" to read the Bible nor does he dismiss the way you may have come to understand the Bible. Instead, Powell presents a variety of Lutheran perspectives for interpreting the Bible.
Faith, Sexism, Justice
Come join us Sundays at 10:15 am for five weeks beginning January 14, for a timely and interactive discussion. Faith, Sexism, Justice – the ELCA study guide designed to help us think at about the issues of sexism, violence, gender bias women face in our world, and why the words and images of God matter. If you want to read up, go to https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Current-Social-Writing-Projects/Women-and-Justice.
Presenters will include pastors and lay members of our congregation. Come and share what you think and what you have experienced! This will also prepare us for the ELCA proposed Women and Justice Social Statement to be approved in 2019.
Healthy Eyes: Look, See and Feel Better, By Cindy Carroll, R.N.
Seeing is such a large part of our everyday life. Our eyes are a complex and intricate organ with more than 2 million working parts. The muscles that control the eyes are the most active muscles in our bodies. Seeing requires half of our brain be involved and about 80% of our memories are determined by what we see.
Matthew 6:22 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light.” Around 80% of vision problems are avoidable or even curable, so please take time to take care of your eyes.
Tips for Healthy Eyes
Be active. Regular exercise can delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
Schedule eye exams for the whole family. A comprehensive eye exam can detect serious problems, like diabetes, before you even know they exist.
Wear sunglasses. Protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, which can be dangerous, even on cloudy days.
Rest your eyes. When on your cell phone, tablet or computer for long periods of time, give your eyes a break for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to help prevent eye strain.
Eat your greens. A diet rich in fruits, leafy greens and omega-3 fatty acids will help reduce the risk of dry eyes, macular degeneration, glaucoma andmore.
If you smoke, quit! Smoking increases the risk of cataracts and sight-threatening eye disease.
Wear safety goggles. It is estimated there are 2.4 million eye injuries that occur in the U.S. each year and 90% of those could be avoided with protective eyewear.
Drink lots of water. Without enough water, you can’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes moist and nourished.
Let us all keep our eyes healthy so that our whole body will be full of light. If you have any questions about your eyes or eye health, please contact one of the parish nurses.
We are pleased to tell you that our phone system has been reconfigured to allow better response to your calls. We will no longer utilize an extension system, but rather, a live staff member will answer your calls placed to our main number (916-444-0874). If your call comes in when we are away from the desk for a few minutes, it will go to voice mail where your message will be picked up and responded to as soon as possible. We hope this change will greatly improve our communications with you!
Crab Feed Reminder
Don’t miss out! The Youth of St. John’s invites all to their annual crab feed!
Funds raised will be used to defray the cost of their annual summer service trip.
When – Saturday, January 20, 5:00 pm
Tickets – Individual ticket = $50,
Reserved Table for 9 = $600
Childcare donation per family = $10
Tickets may be purchased at the church Sundays, or on line: https://stjohnslc.org/crabfeed
See you there!
Mark your calendars
January 14 - New Adult Classes Begin!
January 15 – MLK Walk (Martin Luther King Day)
January 20 – Crab Feed! – 5:00 pm
January 18 – LumiNEXT – 6:00 pm (alternate date/time)
January 21 - Youth Classes Resume!
Confirmation - 10:15 am
Sunday school - 10:15 am
January 28 – St. John’s Annual Meeting – 1:00 pm
February 3 – College Care Package assembly – 6:00 pm
Planning to Connect, by Diane White, Executive Director of Administration
Connections is our theme for 2018; but to connect to each other in intentional ways and strengthen our Christian community at St. John’s we need to purposefully plan opportunities for members to meet and engage. Fortunately, the St. John’s leadership and staff have been hard at work on the strategic plans for each mission area. So, here are some of the planned connection opportunities that you can look forward to in 2018.
Member “one-on-ones” – a Senior Pastor visit with every member household “Connections” events for the purpose of providing members opportunities to meet and identify common passions, interests, talents, which result in formation of their own “small groups,” or opportunities to meet around already identified common interests, such as music workshops, quarterly family gatherings, and guest speaker events on topics such as evangelism and the theology of trauma; formation of five “Passions Groups” based on Time, Talents, & Passions Survey results and convene these groups on a regular basis, as determined by group members work within “Passions Groups” to identify organizations/groups with whom it would be a benefit to connect and develop partnerships provide additional training for Stephen Leaders to rebuild to the required six coordinator roles so that St. John’s has more Stephen Leaders available to connect with congregation members in need of spiritual, physical, and emotional support; form a standing Communications Committee to assess communications needs and develop an array of communication strategies and delivery methods so that church communications regularly and effectively reach members; and create streamlined processes for church-wide communications and communicate with congregation regarding communications processes.
These are just a few of the connection efforts that St. John’s leadership and staff have developed and included in their 2018 Mission Area Strategic Plans. So, please be sure to routinely check announcements, the Spokesman, and other communications that come your way for more information and details about these and other opportunities to connect, and thereby strengthen our Christian community and faith lives.
Diane White, Executive Director of Administration & Resources.
Rebekah Turnbaugh, Community Organizer
In this year in which we are focusing on connections, let us expand our vision beyond the property of St. John’s and envision ways in which we can connect with ALL God’s people in our larger community.
One of my favorite ways to kick off the New Year is to participate in the March for the Dream that happens on the day we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King spoke and wrote frequently about the “beloved community.” It was the fulfillment of his dream, the vision he worked toward in his commitment to nonviolent resistance. This march is one way to live into that vision of a beloved community, and carry that vision with us throughout 2018.
I don’t want to romanticize, or overstate the impact of, the march. It can serve as a glimpse of that beloved community, but living into that idea is a day-by-day work that Christ calls each of us to do. It will look different for each of us. Indeed, even participating in the march will look different for each person there. For some, it is a time to connect with and learn about people they have never met. For others, it is a time of reflection and they may just take it in quietly. But it starts with making a decision to show up and be present.
This year, the march happens on Monday, January 15. Afterward a group of us will meet back at St John’s to process our experiences and further connect with one another. Will you join us?