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.

Doing Mission in Partnership

This Saturday we will gather as a congregation committed to a deep and wide experience of mission in our community and around the world. This will be the third year that BMPC has held an annual Mission Summit, and each year the event has looked a little different. This year is no exception.

Celebrating Lay Leaders of the Church

This Sunday, during the 10:00 a.m. worship service we will celebrate the Ordination and Installation of elders and deacons. The ordination of lay leaders for the church goes back 500 years, to the Protestant Reformation, when our tradition parted company with an ecclesiastical hierarchy of church governance and ceased to have bishops entrusted with the power and authority to appoint church leaders. Presbyterians believe we make more faithful decisions together than any one person could alone, and affirm the “priesthood of all believers” by electing lay leaders to govern the church.

Walking the Walk: Youth Interfaith Dialogue

This Sunday, April 10, high school youth from BMPC will take part in an interfaith program called “Walking the Walk,” coordinated by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia. The event will include youth from other local congregations including Mainline Reform Temple, New Horizons Islamic School, and Mainline Unitarian Church.

Partnering in Syria and Lebanon

During our second year working at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, a new student entered the Master of Divinity program from Syria. In many ways Mathai (not his real name) slipped into the comfortable camaraderie that all of these young men shared. But in other ways Mathai was different. Because of the struggle to get a visa into Egypt for school, he would not be able to travel back to his home until four years later when he will have finished his degree, while all his classmates travel home each weekend to be with their children and families. Though many of our Egyptian students lived and even worked in congregations through the various revolutions and violence that Egypt has experienced over the past several years, Mathai had experienced much worse. His jokes were a little edgier. His patience for dealing with difficult situations was shorter. His grief at the violence and destruction happening back home didn’t make him miss it and his family any less.

Holy Week Worship

Today’s Maundy Thursday communion services and tomorrow’s Good Friday services enable us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus to the end as the gospel enacts God’s raw, brutal entry into human suffering. Then, come Easter morning, the Alleluias will peal from heaven and from within our hearts at the incomprehensible wonder of resurrection. Worshipping together, in word and deed, in song and silence, in ways beyond mere thought, we embrace the most confounding mystery to which we Christians cling – that in the midst of death God bestows life.

Beginning the Journey

Whether you prefer the big leafy green palms, the ones perfect for waving and spreading underfoot, or the long thin sage green palms that mark a joyful exclamation point before being woven into a cross; do not worry, the palms are on their way. They will be waiting just inside the Sanctuary narthex, ready for the Sunday ahead. At 10:02 a.m., there will be a raucous crowd making their way to the Sanctuary doors, and before you can sing “All glory laude and honor” you will see our youngest members charging down the center aisle reenacting that first Palm Sunday. Much like that first Palm Sunday, I imagine there will be children with faces beaming, a few bewildered expressions, and possibly even a handful of scowls.

Words to Live By

While on sabbatical this past spring, I learned that Agnes Norfleet planned to preach a series on the Psalms during the following Lenten season. How marvelous! Of all the passages in the Bible set to music, nothing has inspired composers more than the Psalms.