December's This, That & Other

St John Academy

Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old?"

~ Jn 3: 3-4

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December Greetings I

December 14, 2018

Greetings! I hope this note finds you well.

No doubt, it is a hurrying and "bustling" time of year and today is such a day and a special day--not just as a Friday, or the day after the Feast of St. Nicholas. It is also a day to remember a challenging moment in history and the sacrifices at Pearl Harbor, and in the giant struggle that followed.

Activity is ever alive here at St. John's--there are many various elves at secret and hard work, from decorating our entrance to giving to and from our community in all sorts of quiet ways. And all the hard work at the Christmas tree lot is simply impressive (and inspiring...and we, or I, won't call them elves, at least not the ones with chainsaws!) If possible, please find a way to help with this cheerful and important activity.

This time always presents a challenge to tune into the spiritual richness of the season, from the preparation time of Advent to discovering again the joy of Christmas, throughout those twelve days. During this time of preparation and journeying, I find myself often returning to a couple stories of those who journeyed to see and perhaps become a little child.

The aristocratic and learned character of Nicodemus comes to mind, and the baffling image and challenge presented to him by Christ of becoming a child again. We see him leave that secretive night meeting puzzled (at the least), but also still safe from the dangers of losing his status or position. He is not seen with Jesus in the light of day, and not in this way of someone seeking insight.

We see Nicodemus again much later in the story, risking everything (and probably losing much) as he helps to take the broken body of Jesus from the cross. He is bolder, more assured than all of the apostles, or at least most of them. Some kind of epiphany, some kind of transformation has happened along the way--perhaps he found an answer to his question.

Of course, another journey is that of the three wise men or kings. One can't help but wonder at their reaction to discovering the child, especially in such simple, humble, and vulnerable surroundings. What kind of king is this? What kind of power? How was this birth a history/cosmos changing event?

The faculty and some of our upper grades have read and discussed the poem by T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi. A reflective and sober poem that imagines the journey from the perspective of one of the magi many years after their "epiphany", it asks some profound questions--and can be an artistic help to the Advent journey. (You will hear some of our 7th graders recite it at the Christmas concert.)

Other masterful works will be part of our Christmas time here at St. John's, including Dicken's joyful "ghost tale," A Christmas Carol. It is another story of becoming a child--it is perhaps one of the greatest works of literature that understands and presents a journey to spiritual childhood. A dramatic reading of the story, with students and teachers taking parts, will be the feature of a special 8th grade Christmas Feast (another one of those things that has many secret elves at work).

Enjoy the weekend!


Jeffrey P. Presberg


Saint John Academy

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A St Nicholas Story by Aaron Shepherd

Recently read in play form by our 2nd grade...a treasure to have for the home

What's Up...Next Week and so


Our SJA Yearly Christmas Concert IS TONIGHT, Friday, December 14, 2018. Our evening performance will take place at 7:00 p.m. for grades 3 through 8. We look forward to celebrating this event with you.

We have a special Pre-Christmas Jazz night on Thursday, December 20th from 5-7 p.m. Join our faculty and enjoy an evening of music and camaraderie. Please RSVP to Mrs. Escudero at

LAST CHANCE: There is still time to give (to) HOPE. We will collect assigned items per grade to send to HOPE. Donations will be accepted from December 10th - December 18th. Moms and babies are in need of many items and we have divided our collection by grade as follows: Pre-School - Burping Cloths/Teething toys, Pre-K - Baby Bottles, Kindergarten - Baby Wipes, 1st Grade – Bibs, 2nd Grade – Pacifiers, 3rd Grade – Socks, 4th Grade - Washcloths/Towels, 5th Grade - Diapers/Formula, 6th Grade - Diapers/Formula, 7th Grade - Diapers/ Formula, 8th Grade – Onesies. Feel free to donate additional items from the list above, however, we do request that you send your assigned items first. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Christmas Break begins with an early dismissal on Friday, December 21st at 11:30 a.m. We will NOT have extended-day on that Friday. Classes resume after a well-deserved full two-week break for all of our faculty, staff and students on January 7th, 2019.

National Geographic Geography Bee re-scheduled to January 23, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. Congratulations to the following finalists who will participate in our school bee:
5th Grade - Colleen Lowell and Ava Morabito
7th Grade - Jeremiah Donegan, Ava Hayre and Roman Jackman
8th Grade - James Stanton, Lukas Dannenberg, Sophia Jeffress, Chris Kinsella and Sutton Lochmann.

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A Poetic Drop or Two for Christmas

In the Bleak Midwinter


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,

Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,

The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;

But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

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The Journey Of The Magi


A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

~ Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

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Top Painting: Jesus and Nicodemus by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Bottom Illustration: by Mittelrheinischer Meister (1220), on the dream and journey of the Magi