May the Light of the Christ Child grow and mature in your heart and our community. It has been wonderful, as usual, to move through Fall and into Advent and Christmas in worship.
We have had a powerful celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, a deep Dia de los Muertos commemoration, baptism and new members, another great Christmas pageant where kids came out of the woodworks, Mary Mother of God led by Pastor Lacey, and an amazing Christmas Eve with two very distinct and joyous worship services. It has been an honor and a joy to build up steam coming into Christmas. Evangeline and Todd, Nelly, Sarah and Lacey. So many people helped and are helping. I lost count but at least 40 people helped to pull off worship for Advent. Thank you for all you do.
It has been an honor to share leadership and get to know Pastor Lacey throughout Fall and Advent. She brings unique gifts and passion, especially in worship and social justice, which are great enhancements to our St. John’s community. As most of you know I have been struggling to recover from the concussion and whiplash I received last January. And, it so happens, by the grace of God, 2018 is my 15th year here at St. John’s. So, I will be taking part of a sabbatical the last week of December and the first three weeks of January, followed by the St. John’s family snow trip the last week of January. I will take a longer sabbatical time over next summer for which we expect Pastor Lacey to take on expanded leadership.
For January, we have a great line of people with excellent preaching skills and experience, and are hoping most of the other tasks I would be involved in can be stalled or postponed for three weeks. If there is a pastoral emergency you may contact Pastor Lacey, the office, and/or Tami Boulet (chair of Deacons). In addition to Lacey’s steady support of overall worship flow, check out the great line-up of preachers, you won’t want to miss.
Jan 14 Richard Lindsey – Richard recently joined St. John’s, teaches public speaking at USF, Media, pop culture and religion at the GTU. With his MDiv from Yale we are praying God may continue to call him toward ordination in the PC (USA).
Jan 21 The brilliant and Reverend Deborah Avery has most recently been pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Oakland
Jan 28 Our beloved Reverend Sally Juarez, Director of Presbyterian Mission Homes, who has background in drama and theater.
Isaiah 9  But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb’ulun and the land of Naph’tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.  The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
 Thou hast multiplied the nation,
thou hast increased its joy;
they rejoice before thee
as with joy at the harvest,
as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
thou hast broken as on the day of Mid’ian.
 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
May the love and peace of God be born anew within your heart,
Sunday Forums for January
Jan. 14 Martin Luther King, Jr., observation and discussion Monday, January 15 is Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and a public holiday. We shall observe the occasion on January 14 by listening to and discussing one of his speeches (yet to be selected).
Standing Rock experience
Pastor Lacey will discuss her experiences at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock and provide a perspective on those events.
Snow trip weekend
There will be no forum on January 28. See the information on the snow trip below! Sign up! Now!
Kirsi Stjerna “Women in Reformed Tradition”
Kirsi Stjerna, Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, will discuss “Women in Reformed Tradition” at our Sunday forum on February 4. Kirsi is the author of Women and the Reformation (Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
Signs of a new and — come what may — blessed year: News on the Sanctuary Front
Nearly two decades ago St. John’s took in Linda Carcamo as a young refugee from El Salvador (the daughter of Gregorio Gutierrez). Today, she and her husband, Salvador “Chava” Vazquez Ibarra, have four daughters who form the core of two Mariachi bands sponsored by St. Cornelius Church (or, as they call it, Iglesia de San Cornelio) in Richmond.
Miriam (16), Samantha (14), Olivia (11) and Abigail (9) play the guitarron, guitar, violin, and viruela. Under the direction of their teacher Demetrio, they perform at weddings, birthdays, first communions, anniversaries, and masses – appearances that include the Cathedrals in San Francisco and Oakland.
Years ago St. John’s hired an attorney to legalize Chava’s presence in the US, after being brought here from Mexico as a minor by his parents. This Thursday, at a ceremony in Oakland, he will be sworn in as a US citizen.
In 2015, at the request of Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana de Oakland, St. John’s covenanted to provide Sanctuary for Catarina and four members of her family fleeing a drug lord in Central America. They now have not only political asylum but also their green cards (work permits) and residency permits.
Two years ago St. John’s paid the registration fee for Catarina’s daughter-in-law Verenice (brought to the US as a minor by her parents) to be given protection under DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals). She just completed a two-year renewal of her DACA status, ahead of President Trump’s cutoff deadline. She was aided by young immigration attorney Doug Dionne, whose first case was the successful asylum application of Catarina and her family.
Catarina’s daughter Caty and her husband Juan (still awaiting an Immigration Court decision on his request for Withholding of Deportation, and whom St.John’s helped bail out of Immigration prison in Arizona) just had a healthy baby daughter, Margaret, born two days after Christmas. All are grateful for this wonderful gift – a testament that even in the darkest hours wonders never cease.
Submitted by Fred Goff,
for the Mission and Justice Commission
Start the new year bright! Join this illuminating exploration of the Bible and its meaning for our lives… The next meeting of the Horizons Bible Study will be Thursday January 18, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm in the Campbell Reception room. Glenda Pawsey will guide our discussion as we go over Lesson Four: “In Community With God’s Messengers”.
Another opportunity for fellowship with your friends at St. John’s Flick Flak, St. John’s fun film discussion group will convene around a potluck supper on January 26. The movies to see Darkest Hour and The Post. Bring your dinner contribution and enjoy a lively dinner conversation and responses to the movies. Newcomers are always welcome — even if you have not been able to see both, either, or none of the movies!
Whether you knit or not… The St. John’s Knitting Ministry will meet January 19 and February 2 and 16 in the St John’s office. Drop in between 1:30 ad 3:30 for tea, conversation — and knitting. We are making shawls, scarves, hats and baby blankets. If you would like to learn to knit, we’d love to teach you. If you don’t want to knit, we’d still welcome your company!
Once upon a time St. John’s produced a little booklet called “Joyful Noise,” which carried responses from the congregation to a call for a favorite Bible verse, along with brief expression (2-3 sentences+) of its special, personal significance. Contributions were illustrated by kids in Sunday school! Shall we do it again? Yes? Bedside reading to lift your heart… Send chapter/verse/relevance to Gail Peterson email@example.com
Save the date
The ordination service and celebration for Pastor Lacey is planned for Saturday, February 24 at 3:00 pm in the Sanctuary. Specific information is forthcoming.