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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.

Getting Away with God

Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” -Mark 6:31

One of the great things about summer is that at some point it usually affords us a time to get away from the usual rhythm of life. Assuming we didn’t have travel complications or family drama, we often return feeling refreshed and renewed from having spent time away. We may find that we have more energy in our work and a more hopeful view of life after a time of rest and retreat.

Read more: Getting Away with God

The Wonder of It All

What I love most about summer is the wonder of it all. Clear nights, bright stars and visible planets. The comforting rhythm of waves breaking upon the sand and receding only to do it again. Fish rising from the deep, shining and silver and reflecting the sun. Footprints in the sand. Fireflies. Mountain vistas. Ferns unfolding on the wooded floor. Tomatoes ripening in the backyard. Birds singing to summon the dawn.

Read more: The Wonder of It All

Reclaiming Evangelism

For the past month, we have been engaged in an Adult Education forum after worship on the topic of Reclaiming Evangelism. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of response a class like this would have, since so many of us tend to shy away from doing any kind of evangelism in our own lives - and have story after story of being made uncomfortable both by strangers and friends who seem bent on trying to save our souls.

Read more: Reclaiming Evangelism

A Peace Which Transcends Understanding…

I recently clipped a little factoid out of a periodical I subscribe to that I thought was interesting:

“Amazon says that the most highlighted Bible passage on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Read more: A Peace Which Transcends Understanding…

Peru Mission Trip

It was just a few short months ago that PC(USA) Mission Coworker Jed Koball stood on the gym stage at our Sunday morning Youth Gathering and told the story of his ministry in Peru. Jed described how his initial work of meeting basic human needs transformed into systemic work of mission advocacy. Jed and his wife Jenny partner with a mission network called Joining Hands in Peru as they discern how God is leading them to address the root causes of issues such as poverty, mining contamination, and unfair trade agreements.

Read more: Peru Mission Trip

A Prayer for Independence Day

The Fourth of July is one of our two quintessential American holidays along with Thanksgiving Day of course. Many of us will be at home hosting family gatherings, picnic suppers, and looking for places to watch the fireworks. Others of us will be heading to the shore or some other vacation destination. Small towns and large cities across the country will gather along parade routes to watch and cheer as the bands march, the flags are waved and the joy of living in “the land of the brave and the home of the free” is celebrated.

Read more: A Prayer for Independence Day

General Assembly 2016

As I write today, I am watching as the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) debates, amends and celebrates a new Directory of Worship for the denomination. This means hard conversations about who is welcome to participate in the Sacrament of Communion, what it means to present a child for Baptism in our congregations, and how we shape our life of worship together. It also means conversations about language and practices, hospitality and grace.

Read more: General Assembly 2016

VBC 2016

What will happen next week during Vacation Bible Camp?

A pile of cardboard boxes will become a village.
Old t-shirts will be woven into new rugs.
Broken pottery will form garden mosaics.
Bible stories will become familiar.
Canned food will be gathered and distributed Philadelphia.
A garden will be harvested and there will be fresh strawberries available at Chester Eastside.
Children will serve sisters and brothers in Philadelphia, Syria, Mexico City, and in our church.
Birdhouses will be built.
Youth will be leaders.
Strangers will become friends.
New songs will be sung.
God will be praised.

Read more: VBC 2016

74 Minutes of Joy

This Sunday, musicians from BMPC, Singing City Choir, the National Music Festival Orchestra, Frederick Chorale and Chester River Chorale will descend on BMPC to present Ludwig von Beethoven’s epic Symphony No. 9 (“Choral Symphony”). The concert also includes Mozart’s marvelous Concerto for Bassoon. With 65 orchestral musicians and 151 singers in the chancel of our church, this will be the largest assembled musical ensemble in BMPC’s history. This concert, along with the opening of a BMPC Congregational Mixed-media Art Show, will fill our campus with uncontainable, creative joy.

Read more: 74 Minutes of Joy

Summertime Worship

The Wisdom of Ecclesiastes reminds us of how God has created life to be lived by a certain rhythm. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…God has made everything suitable for its time… We do not always understand the rhythms of life and unexpected interruptions, but we can trust God to hold every season in holy hands and bestow upon it meaning and purpose.

Read more: Summertime Worship