February 2016

Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ,
I am always grateful, but have recently been enjoying the community aspect of faith and church. I am enjoying each of you and especially each of you together, the overall picture and personality you help give to our quirky little family! There is the work that we do, of course, but now the being — our identity and feeling as we are nurtured, empowered and loved seems sweet and special.
Most gatherings today are interest-specific; a sport, music or interest group where people are similar in age, income and culture. Then there are the people who are separated out, pushed away, by virtue of special needs, age, etc.  But since from the eternal and omnipresent perspective of God we are all tiny, limited, and yet God’s beautiful creation, we are empowered by grace to enjoy and love all — even as we work together to grow into all God calls us to be. Both in interest groups and religion the centrality of  “church community” to our individual spirituality is special, unique and powerful.  Many talk of community, but few become community.  Thank you for being such a special part of our body.
There are several special events in the faith life of St. John’s community coming up I want to bring your attention to.  We will celebrate the life and eternal love of God for Andy Benson this coming Saturday at 2:00 pm.  Our beautiful, contemplative Ash Wednesday service is Feb 10 at 6:30 pm.
I also want to make special note of an important speaker:  Feb 19 at 7:00 pm, Jeff Halper, a Jewish Israeli and founder of Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition will be speaking at St. John’s.  Jeff is a very well respected and informed activist for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine.  It is an honor to host him and his organization.  His presence will fit well with our Lenten focus on the non-violent love of Christ.
Love and blessings,
Pastor Max
Plan to be a part of this dynamic and provocative Lenten season!   
During Lent, Adult Forums will be focused on non-violence. We will be watching the documentary, “A Force More Powerful” that tells the stories of the 20th Century’s most important and successful use of strategic non-violence to overcome oppression and authoritarian rule. Our study will begin with Gandhi and his salt march to the sea and continue to the Danish non-cooperation with the occupying forces of Germany.
We will discuss these historic events as examples of what is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus.  Understanding non-co-operation with tyranny invites us to explore our own attitudes about the use of force in our society and in our world.  We will be guided through some exer-cises that require us to examine the violence in our own lives and our own personal make-up.
Our series begins on February 14th, the first Sunday of Lent, but we will have a foretaste of the use of strategic non-violent action on the February 7th, when Mark Coplan shares his remarkable story as a member of the intentional community at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, known as Nuremberg Actions. He will share their work throughout the greater Bay Area as a leading proponent of non-violence in the country, and the role that the faith community played in the non-violent movement, both here and with the international community in Nicaragua. Mark lived at the tracks in Concord for a year before heading to Nicaragua, where he produced over 30 documentaries in his three years in country.
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The Memorial Service for Andy Benson will be Saturday, February 6 at 2:00 pm.
Born in Berkeley, August 9, 1942, Andrew Stedman Benson, graduated from UC with a degree from the school of Forestry.  Active in Boy Scout Troop 9, he became an Eagle Scout.  Andy served with the army in Korea and Vietnam, where he was injured in 1966 and began life in a wheelchair.  He returned to UCB as a graduate student in Forestry/Remote Sensing. After receiving his Master of Science degree, he remained at UC for 17 years conducting research for the application of small scale aerial photography and digital space imagery in the design of wild land and agricultural inventories.
After retiring, Andy volunteered as a grand juror for Contra Costa County. He was an active, life-long member of St. John’s where he served as Clerk of Session for many years.
His home in Walnut Creek was the gathering place for his extensive family (and St. John’s events), which these days includes our own Sarah Johnson. Always cheerful and upbeat despite physical disabilities, Andy will always be at the very heart of St. John’s.
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A celebration of Annabelle Graves’ 92nd birthday is planned for Sunday afternoon, Feb. 28, between 12:30 and 2:00pm.   Although this is the same Sunday as St.J’s annual meeting, her daughter Joann hopes that some of you are able to come say congratulations and enjoy a small party at Grand Lake Gardens (one block from the Grand Lake Theater) at 401 Santa Clara Avenue, 6th floor.  Cards would be welcome in any event. Send to Joann Johnson, 509 Carmel Avenue, Albany CA 94706.  Joann’s phone number is 510.409.8820.
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Flick Flak, St. John’s longstanding and irrepressible film group, meets next on February 26 at 6:30 pm in the Campbell Reception Room. The movies selected for discussion are “Brooklyn,” set in the U.S. and Ireland, and “Mustang,” set in part in Turkey. Both films have won awards and nominations and are noted for excellent photography.  Come, with your potluck “dish” and expect a lively discussion, whether you’ve seen one of the movies or not!
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Horizons Bible study is meeting from 12 to 2:00 pm on Thursday, February 18 in the Campbell Reception Room. Dorothy Worth is leading the discussion of Lesson Five: “Stormy Water/Faith,” based on Matthew 14:22-33. The question: How does our faith sustain us during the stormy times in our own lives? We welcome new participants. All you need to do is show up with your lunch, your Bible and, if possible, the Horizons study book. We can share the materials if you don’t have them.
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Annual Meeting Feb 28.  Be sure to stay after church to learn what St. John’s has been up to over the past year, and what is hoped for in 2016.
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The Knitting Ministry (which does not require your ability to knit!) meets on February 5 and 19, in the church office break room, 1:30 pm.  Come join us for tea, cookies, conversation, no needles required…
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A young Pakistani woman who has withstood overwhelming obstacles, needs a room.  Recently made a U.S. citizen, she is a Berkeley graduate in her early ’20’s — smart, tri-lingual, capable and reliable, with good computer skills. She is eager to perform household tasks to supplement rent.  She can walk dogs, grocery shop, etc., and would be particularly helpful in a situation with older adults, still living independently, who could use a little help and the security of knowing someone is there at night. Sanctuary and others can provide first and last month’s rent if necessary. If you, or anyone you know, might be able to assist, please contact Claudia Cate, 510-384-5777 or ccate21@hotmail.com.
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Save the date, plan ahead, save the date!
St. John’s Annual All-Church Retreat
Friday April 8 – Sunday, April 10
Relax • Refresh • Reconnect — in the Redwoods!
Take a deep breath —nose to toes!
Imagine the Holy Spirit filling you up — renewing you inside and out.
Redwood Glen, 1½ hours from St. John’s, is a wonderful place to deepen friendships at
St. John’s, re-affirm personal relationships, and revitalize faith. (Here in the redwoods, the trees will hug you!)
            Sign up!  Redwood Glen is accessible and comfortable (and affordable), a drive through Half Moon Bay to a near-coastal site that is great for hikes and talks, even a trip to a nearby ocean!
Redwood Glen Registration Form
Please return to the office or offering tray by March 31, 2016
Name _______________________________________________________________________________
Address _____________________________________________________________________________
Phone _______________________________________________________________________________ Number                                           Cost                     Subtotal
_______Adult …………………………………$160   =           ________
_______Teens 13-18 …………………………. 65   =          ________
_______Children 12 and under………….FREE  =          _______________Scholarship requested                                     ________
_______Contribution for Scholarships                          ________
Grand Total:        ________Deposit (at least $25 per adult)                         ________
Balance due by March 31                                  ________

_____             More information needed
_____             Child needs a rollaway bed in parent’s room
_____             I need a ride
_____             I can give ride(s) to _________ person(s)

I (we) will eat at the retreat on Friday Night? Yes ____ No ____
Any special needs that we can help with (food, rooms, etc.)
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Roommate preferences _____________________________________________________________________