photo showing part of a bible.

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.

A Sacred Sigh at the New Year

The snow was falling at a frantic pace, it was a nice change from the sleet that had been falling earlier, but the howling wind and ominous grey sky did not make anyone in the classroom feel better about the afternoon’s outlook. I was in a room filled with social workers, counselors, and pastors all attempting to learn new techniques to help people ground themselves. The instructor was outstanding. Despite the fact that the entire room would turn each time a branch whacked a window or a new weather alert buzzed on someone’s phone; she continued speaking in a calm clear voice encouraging us to breathe deeply, keep both feet on the ground, let our eyes focus on a neutral point on the wall. We would nod and scribble down notes, about how in moments of high stress it can be difficult to convince someone that such methods could prove helpful. I think the class collectively blushed when she said, “For instance, right now.”  

A Prayer for the New Year

We pray for newness, O God.
As the stroke of midnight nears,   
    and this year draws to its end,   
    we give thanks for the gifts it brought.
For all the joy, the laughter, the friendship,   
    and the good cheer, we say thank you. 

Finding the Holy

The holidays are only holy if we make them so.

These words popped off the page of one of my Advent and Christmas devotionals a couple of weeks ago when I was perusing the books in my pastor’s study while crafting the Advent sermon series. They seemed to pierce through the holiday distractions, as if to ask: Is the holiness of God’s light and love, mercy and grace, finding room in the devotion and action of my days amid the hurried rush of this busy season?

Longest Night Worship Service

In our minds and imaginations, Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. And yet, the Christmas mania that comes from much that surrounds us seems distant from the significance of a particular child’s birth in a little town called Bethlehem long ago. Or there are some who may feel like the time of excitement does not meet them where they are because of struggles with loss, loneliness, or depression.  All of us at one time or another can understand the mindset of the Grinch or of Ebenezer Scrooge – “Bah, humbug!”  

Advent Lessons and Carols

The word “Advent” means “coming,” or “drawing near.” During this season, Christians throughout the world prepare for the anniversary of Christ’s first coming through reflection on our yearning for wholeness and salvation. Such reflection can serve to heighten our sense of anticipation for the Christ Child’s birth, which we will celebrate on Christmas. The Advent season also reminds us that Christ will come again at the end of time to reign over heaven and earth in majesty. 

The Gift of Advent

There is a deluge of mail that arrives in mid-November.  Each bright catalogue declaring to have the perfect gifts for the season. Models in fuzzy sweaters carrying newly cut pine trees frame the words, “something for everyone on your list.” I’ll glance through these and doubt if my 9-year-old nephew really wants a fair isle sweater, but I still pause wondering if my list is long enough and if the gifts will indeed be “right.” This year the catalogues arrived again, and I was back to worrying about lists and gifts and wondering if this would be the year, I finally get a Christmas Card sent before Lent.  As I was worrying about Christmas, my hands were busy prepping craft material for the upcoming Live Nativity.


O God, from whom we receive every gift of life, we gather at Thanksgiving grateful for your abundant blessings. We are thankful for the gift of love which steadies us and opens our hearts to another, for passion that keeps attentive to the joys and challenges of our Christian calling, and for compassion which expresses our faith in tangible ways as we reach out to neighbors in need.