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.

Code Blue Shelter – You are invited to Volunteer

Almost every night since January 2 the Atrium and Gymnasium here at BMPC have been used to shelter men sleeping outside in our community on these cold nights of the winter. For them it is a much-needed relief from the stress of sleeping in the elements, of navigating spaces where they are not welcome, and simply a respite from the dangers of being outside in the cold.

Interview with James Kealey

On Sunday, January 21 at 2 p.m., you are all invited to attend a wonderful organ recital by James Kealey, the recent laureate of the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP). It’s always nice to learn more about performers, so please enjoy this brief interview with this immensely talented organist.

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.