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Pastors' Column

Each week one of our pastors or staff members writes a column observing what is going on in our congregation, the Church and the world, and offering reflections on the Christian life and faith. Through this series of columns, we hope to connect your and our story to the enduring story of Christ; to offer pastoral reflections on our ongoing congregational life and mission; to report on news of the Presbyterian Church and Church universal; and to invite further reflection and deeper discipleship. We welcome your comments and suggestions. In other words, our words here are an invitation to continue the conversation.

A Holy Pause?

This is a different pastor’s column. Originally, I was going to write about our Congregation Wide Day of Service. I was excited to tell you about the opportunities that awaited on Saturday morning—opportunities to create welcoming and nurturing spaces in the Education Building, to help resource partner churches, to work in community to feed and shelter neighbors in need, and more. I was excited to write about the opportunity and the gift we find in service; however, the Day of Service has been postponed. Instead of serving, we’re looking ahead to a day of snow. I wonder; however, if this isn’t a different opportunity… and a gift.

Read more: A Holy Pause?

New Year Beginnings

I always enjoy greeting the New Year with a cordial welcome and a commitment to clean up a bit in order to prepare for what is to come. At home I am glad to sweep up the remnant Christmas tree needles, clear out the rest of the clutter, and get that last thank you note written. In the church I am happy to turn the calendar to a fairly clean page and begin looking forward to worship and seasonal traditions, to anticipated events and new, even unexpected things that will arise over the horizon. January ushers in a new year for all of us and an anniversary for me because exactly three years ago I moved to Bryn Mawr and began my work among this congregation as your pastor.

Read more: New Year Beginnings

A Visit with Cathy Chang

This week the Presbyterian Church (USA) is engaging in seven days of prayer and action to fight against the problem of Human Trafficking around the globe. Working against this devastating issue has become a priority for Presbyterian Women both on the national and local level as well as for the work of Presbyterian World Mission in their fight against the root causes of poverty and confronting cultures of violence.

Read more: A Visit with Cathy Chang

The Longest Night

The observance of the longest night of the year, when we acknowledge the darkest of days and anticipate the light to come, makes space in worship for people for whom the Advent season surfaces grief as well as hopeful anticipation. Some of us approach Christmas with sadness because we miss a loved one who has died, or we are part of a family experiencing the trauma of illness or divorce. Statistics show that a rise in depression is common during the winter, and it is particularly prevalent during the holidays. And this year all of us have been exposed to the chaos of mass shootings, civil unrest at home and abroad, and new kinds of warfare that make us especially aware of the world’s darkness into which Christ is born.

Read more: The Longest Night

Soli Deo Gloria

Perhaps over the years you have noticed that a frequent title in Advent preludes and postludes is Savior of the Nations, Come (Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland). Johann Sebastian Bach arranged it for organ several times and composed two cantatas based on the hymn, for it was the hymn most closely associated with Advent in the 18th century German church. Martin Luther actually derived this hymn from a beloved Latin hymn, Veni redemptor gentium.

Read more: Soli Deo Gloria

Advent Begins

How do you know that Advent has begun? Is it the joy of eating that first piece of chocolate in the advent calendar? Is it when that first candle is lit in worship? Is it a particular hymn or a family tradition that makes it clear that Christmas is coming and we are faithfully waiting?

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving

O God to whom we belong, we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day by rejoicing in the abundance of your many blessings. We are thankful for all your gifts that make life meaningful and pleasurable: for love which binds us to one another in community, for passion that keeps us alive to the goodness of life, for compassion that opens our hearts to others.

Read more: A Prayer for Thanksgiving

The Gifts We Need

The other day as I was walking my son to the bus stop, we had a brief conversation about our expectations for Christmas this year. Living in Egypt for the past two holiday seasons meant very modest Christmas celebrations. Western toys that we could get our hands on in Cairo were far more expensive than they were worth, and in the back of our minds anything bought in Egypt would need to fit in suitcases when we moved home.

Read more: The Gifts We Need

A Time of Gathering In

All signs point to it. This is a time for gathering in. Nature’s harvest where we live is nearly complete for the year. We’ve had our spring berries, the abundance of summer fruits and vegetables, and now the apples and pumpkins and squash. Our harvest is nearly complete.

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Never the Same

He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ. –Ephesians 1:4-5

At 8:18am on Easter morning this year, Sarah and I received the most incredible gift. At Bryn Mawr Hospital, as the church began its first Easter service, our daughter Hadley Claire was born and changed our lives forever. As we have discovered, life would never be the same.

Read more: Never the Same