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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 Shadow Side of Christmas

On Thursday, December 21, a Longest Night worship service will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. In some churches, this service is known as “Blue Christmas.” For many people, Christmas is a mixed bag. Messages of hope and joy contrast with experiences of sorrow and despair. Idealized images of family rub salt in the wounds of real human relationships. We look around and see how the world still falls short of God’s Kingdom come.

Read more: The Shadow Side of Christmas

A Man of God

It seems fitting that, as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach be presented as both a rousing tribute and rousing celebration of the Christmas season. On Sunday, December 10 at 4 p.m., the Sanctuary Choir, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and outstanding soloists from the choir will present “Part One” of The Christmas Oratorio and the celebrated Magnificat in D (last presented at BMPC in 1995).

Read more: A Man of God

Advent Workshop

In college, I had the opportunity to spend a summer working and researching in rural Ghana. Based at a vocational school, I worked with a microloan organization, with students preparing for national exams, and with a small sewing cooperative. I arrived ready to interview and gather data — a clear research plan in hand. One of the women I worked with asked how I would learn anything if I didn’t use my hands. I was confused at first, and then she showed me. When you study the cooperative’s business model, you need to actually sew a few buttons. If you want to teach the students, help them gather water when the pump breaks down. If you want to understand social capital in the community, sit in the kitchen before the microloan meeting and join the women grinding tomatoes for the community meal.

Read more: Advent Workshop

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Loving God,

We drink from wells we did not dig, and we eat from a bounty of goodness we did not harvest. You love us beyond measure, shower us with grace and patience, and call us into lives of meaning and purpose in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Our hearts overflow with gratitude for countless blessings.

Read more: Prayer of Thanksgiving

Twenty-Five Years of Alternative Giving

In December 1992, the following article appeared in the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church Messenger:

Send a Kid (Goat) to Indonesia

Buy an “Alternative Giving Christmas Card” card for $5 to honor a friend, teacher, or relative. For each card purchased, a goat kid will be given by World Relief, an international Christian Agency, to a family in the Purwomartani region of Indonesia. Female goats give one-half a gallon of milk daily, providing children with a rich source of protein and calcium. The villagers will not only benefit from the immediate gift of the small animal, but will also receive training to breed their livestock. This is another opportunity provided by the Hunger Task Force.

Read more: Twenty-Five Years of Alternative Giving

What Lives On?

What is a legacy? A legacy is something handed down from one generation to the next — an inheritance or a precious heirloom. It might be an ethnic or cultural history, or beliefs about the world, or expectations of how you should be in the world. We experience some legacies as blessing and others as burden. What has been handed down to you? What have you received from those who went before? Even better, what is the legacy that you will leave behind? What are you passing down through the generations, for good or ill?

Read more: What Lives On?

For All the Saints

We associate O When the Saints Go Marching In with joyful, jazz funeral processions in places like New Orleans, and I imagine most of us only know the opening verse… O Lord, I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in. The hymn actually has 12 verses, and it reads like the Book of Revelation, filled with apocalyptic images of the end times when God will be fully revealed and the people of God will stream into worship with endless praise before the throne of heaven.

Read more: For All the Saints

Reformed and Always Being Reformed

All this month in worship we have been reflecting on what it means to claim the label of Protestant and even Reformed... to follow the watch words of the Reformation as we call them: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, and this week, Scripture Alone.

Read more: Reformed and Always Being Reformed

On Wondering and Wandering

These days I do a lot of wondering… and wandering. I suspect that’s what people do who are in new places, and as of this writing, who are also desperately trying to both pass and treasure the time before a new baby’s imminent arrival.

And as I continue to wander through the physical spaces of our incredible campus, a tiny question keeps lingering over me. It normally sneaks up on me when I have walked up to the side balcony of our English-Gothic Sanctuary to listen to a practice run on the organ, or when I’m sitting in the darkness of our Chapel, where the strongest light shines through our stunning Tiffany windows. It comes on slowly, and then sits on my shoulder, where I can’t seem to shake it off: Why don’t we build cathedrals anymore?

Read more: On Wondering and Wandering

Gather Us In

This year Stewardship Season has us looking back and looking forward.

Remembering the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s momentous nailing of his 95 points of debate on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral on October 31, 1517, our worship this month is considering five bold theological affirmations that emerged from the Reformation about grace, faith, Christ, scripture, and the glory of God.

Read more: Gather Us In