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.

2023: Envisioning a Year of Celebration!

On January 13, 1873, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church was officially organized at a meeting of the Presbytery of Chester. Sixteen members comprised the new congregation, including 13 women and three men. Of course, two of the men were promptly elected as the first elders! Presbyterians had been gathering at Temperance Hall on Lancaster Pike to worship before the official church charter was signed, and they continued worshiping there until arrangements could be made for a more permanent location for the new church. The congregation purchased the current plot of land from the Pennsylvania Railroad in May 1873 for $2,500 and began planning for the construction of the first Sanctuary.

Through the Coming Year

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a week of evaluation for me. I look back at the year that has been, celebrating accomplishments, analyzing struggles, assessing what worked well and what did not. I look ahead to the 52 weeks on the horizon, plotting out new hopes and rhythms. It is a week of anticipation and reflection that I look forward to each year.

Stewards of God’s Mysteries

Here on the cusp of a week filled with beautiful Advent and Christmas services, I am mindful of a less familiar but fascinating descriptor the Apostle Paul gives to people who believe in Jesus Christ. In First Corinthians 4:1, Paul describes us as stewards of the mysteries of God.

Sing “Messiah”

“Messiah” is an oratorio composed by George Frederic Handel in 1741 and first performed in Dublin, Ireland. The scriptural text that accompanies the work is based on the King James Bible and tells of the coming of Jesus Christ as the savior of humankind, Christ’s passion and crucifixion, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven. It is one of the most continuously performed choral works in musical history, with most performances taking place during the Christmas or Easter seasons.

Live Nativity and Advent Workshop

“Just to confirm, there will either be a calf or an alpaca?” Overhearing a conversation about the Live Nativity animals I had to pause and share the important observation, “There really weren’t alpacas in first-century Bethlehem.” Neither the Children’s Ministry administrator nor the owner of the local petting zoo seemed to share my concern and continued to discuss the details for our Live Nativity this Sunday.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

When our children were young, they came home from Preschool with a lovely Native American Prayer for Thanksgiving with simple hand movements:

May the Great Spirit (fingers pointing skyward making a big circle over your head) who has been with us in the past (hand over shoulder pointing behind you) and will be with us in the future (arm outstretched in front) bring us great joy (right hand over the heart).

May the Great Spirit, who has been with us in the past and will be with us in the future, bring us great joy!

With a consciousness raised about our complicated Native and Euro-American history, that simple prayer offered in our home for long years on Thanksgiving Day inspired me to research other Native American Prayers to incorporate into a Prayer of Thanksgiving for this year.

Advent Gift Market – a yearlong commitment to mission

For organizations and professions that are driven by the seasons, there is often the sense that we can’t actually appreciate the season we are in because we have already moved on to prepare for the next one. The Church is no exception. Planning for fall classes happens in the spring. Lenten Devotional submissions are written in the fall. Summer Vacation Bible Camp and Youth Mission Trips are all organized during the winter.