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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.

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?

Read more: Advent Begins

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.

Read more: A Time of Gathering In

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.

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A Family of Support in a Time of Grief

Regardless of one’s stage in life, certain dates are remembered. A child’s birthday, a couple’s first date, the birthday of a beloved pet, perhaps the date you were offered your dream job and, of course, wedding anniversaries! For most of us those landmark dates also include the date a loved one passed from this life to the next. While birthdays are typically observed in a group with much festivity, dates such as the passing of a spouse or parent or child are more typically observed with some solitary reflection. I have lived long enough to now observe a couple of those dates – in honor of my brother and mother – and I can tell you that, even with the passage of time, those observances are difficult.

Read more: A Family of Support in a Time of Grief

Spiritual, Practical and Impractical Goals for Our Stewardship Journey

What are the goals of this year’s Stewardship Campaign to support BMPC’s ministry?

The first is a spiritual goal – to grow in appreciation for the abundant life we have been given by God and to respond with the generous offering of our lives as we seek to follow Jesus Christ. Making a financial commitment to the church is a tangible response to the intangible reality of God’s love and grace and goodness. Faithful people embark on a spiritual journey with God that leads us to grow in generosity.

Read more: Spiritual, Practical and Impractical Goals for Our Stewardship Journey

Serious Faith

For our Sunday morning Youth Gathering, I’m always looking to connect our teens with theological depth and biblical insight in a relevant way. So far this fall, we’ve completed a sermon series on Sabbath called “Refresh.” During the series we talked about finding rest in a restless world, something especially challenging for our youth who face many demands on their time and energy. We just began a new series called “Emoji Christian.” If you’ve sent a text message, you’ve probably used an emoji character, which symbolizes an idea or emotion. During this series, we’re asking the question: Is your faith just a symbol or something you take seriously?

Read more: Serious Faith