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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.

3rd Grade Bible Sunday

We are people of the Word. Scripture shapes everything we do: from the prayers we pray, to the service we engage in, to the format of our worship. Scripture is “a witness without parallel” to the unfolding story of God. It is “sharper than any two edged sword” and “a light to our path.” Scripture is important. At times it is also confusing, filled with difficult passages, archaic practices, violence and more. The Bible has been used to justify evil acts as well as to call nations to repentance and new life. It’s amazing what approximately 800,000 words can do.

The Language of Service

This past Monday I had the great privilege of participating with my ten year old son, Owen, and about 20 other BMPC children in a day of service organized and led here at the church by my colleague Rachel Pedersen. It was a wonderful day of games, conversation, laughter, and service for these children and the adults who volunteered their day in service to our children.

The Excitement of New Beginnings

Because our sons are out of the nest, I admit I miss that back-to-school ritual of meandering through a crowded office supply store, along with scores of other families, to fill our basket with the shiny new binders and pens and all the rest of the stuff needed for the learning that a new school year promised. That shopping trip made me remember how I always loved the fresh beginning of returning to friends and the rhythms of a new school year. Now all I get is the bill from a college bookstore far away!

Benediction

Over the course of the summer, our Summer Sunday School students learned about the different parts of worship.  We sang the doxology (with bell accompaniment), wrote our own call to worship, collected an offering and more.  During our last class, we learned about “Benediction.” As a class we discussed why we end worship with a blessing. The Benediction is a special blessing that connects us to God while we are apart from one another. Looking around the classroom it was an especially poignant conversation knowing that students were preparing for a new school year. How do we send people to begin something new?

Connecting Face-to-Face

Over the past several weeks I have heard stories of the saints who have come before us in this place who gave generously to fund the mission of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. I have heard stories of our relationships with mission partners from all over the world. I have heard stories of faithful members of this congregation who have inspired the entire church to take on projects and adopt new perspectives on issues and needs in West Philadelphia shaping BMPC’s outreach priorities.

The “Re-“ Factor

As one of my pastor colleagues responded recently to a question I had asked, “We’re deep into August here.”  That’s one way of saying that we’re experiencing the calm before the storm.  We haven’t begun our full fall program yet, and the vacation Bible camps, youth mission trips, summer camps at Kirkwood – all of those – are now part of the summer’s history.  It’s a time when pastors fill in for one another to allow much-needed vacation and study-leave time away.  August is a good month for those things.

Camp Kirkwood 2015

“The impact of camp is not program or facility but people…long after games and adventure are forgotten, campers will remember their counselors.” –Lloyd Mattson, The Camp Counselor

I believe there was an essential reason that Jesus “would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16). There is something about getting out of our usual routines and surroundings that helps us to get in sync in our walk with Jesus. Disconnecting from our cell phones and other devices also enables us to connect with God in a fresh way. When we are clear of distractions and renewed in our faith, we can also forge relationships that last a lifetime.

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