2022 Advent/Christmas Messenger

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Advent | 2022 the
Photo by Dave Tavani


New Testament scholar and preaching professor Fred Craddock used to speak about how Advent is a liturgical season that wears two faces. It is a time that simultaneously looks in two directions. We look back and remember how the promise of a baby landed in the hearts of unsuspecting parents, and how the Word of God was revealed in the soft skin of baby in a most out-ofthe-way place. After centuries of the prophets’ preparing the people of God, finally we beheld the great God of all creation face to baby face.

Advent also looks forward to the coming of Christ as promised to us in Scripture. The word Advent means simply Coming or Arrival and, while we look back with gratitude, the most hopeful posture of the season is to look forward with hopeful, expectant joy that the God who became a human being in Bethlehem is with us in the living Spirit of Christ enabling us to participate in bringing about God’s new day!

During Sunday morning worship this year, we will attend to stories of people who journeyed in faith toward the birth of Jesus, and using the metaphor of journey, we will consider how our own hopeful, expectant joy moves us to do the good work of Christ as we help usher in God’s promised day by loving God and loving neighbor.

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church fills the season of Advent and Christmas with opportunities not only for worship, but also service and deepened commitment as we prepare for the coming of Christ. One of my favorite poems to revisit each Advent and Christmas is by Adam David Miller. His verse entitled Keep Sending Love Out helps us think about how we should remember looking backward to the birth of Jesus, and how, looking forward, we should participate in the service of others to which we are called in his name.

Grace and Peace,

Keep sending love out

Where the heart clutches and the soul sings. Keep sending love out

Into the lighted dark, over the fog swept sea, Or where it runs the risk of dying dusty death. Send it where there may not be an echo, No return. Send love, that magic portent, that drug of madness, the poet’s bane, some fool’s delight. Send it where it has never been, a new address. Keep sending, sending, sending.



We welcome our newest members with open arms and love. Let us learn from them during their time with us.

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Marion Pulsifer Philadelphia Rachel Drew

Discover BMPC Classes

These classes will give you the opportunity to learn about our denomination, our Reformed tradition, and our sense of Christian Ministry. For more information or to register for our December classes, contact FrankPottorff@bmpc.org.

Kermit Eide Audubon Laura Zalewski Villanova Elanur Eroglu & Connor Williams Bryn Mawr



Advent Harpsichord Recitals

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church is blessed to own a spectacular French double harpsichord built by William Dowd. This instrument is a copy of a famous harpsichord that was built in 1780 and is now owned by Yale University.

We are pleased to again offer free Tuesday recitals at noon in the Sanctuary during Advent:

Handel’s “Messiah” Sing-In Presented at BMPC

On Sunday, December 11 at 3:00 p.m. you are invited to join hundreds of others in a “Sing-In” of Handel’s spectacular “Messiah.”

Co-sponsored by BMPC and Singing City Choir and led by Jeffrey Brillhart and Singing City Associate Conductor Nate Zullinger, audience members will have the option of either singing or simply sitting amongst the singers and reveling in the glorious sounds of this beloved work.

Tickets are $21 for adults and $10 for students and may be purchased online: https://bit.ly/BMPCMessiah.

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Gabriel Benton Tuesday, November 29 Silvanio Reis Tuesday, December 6 Kathleen Scheide Tuesday, December 13 Anna Kislitsyna & Torsten Fras Tuesday, December 20

Doing Good Together

On Yom Kippur, 40 elementary and middle schoolers spent their day off from school doing service and practicing atonement. How can we use our time to help make things right? How can we repair or restore some of the brokenness we experience in the world?

The morning began with activities followed by prayer for the day. Dividing into small groups, our older students left the church campus while our younger elementary students stayed at BMPC. Students traveled to St. Mary’s Church in Ardmore and Bethel Presbyterian Church in North Philadelphia. The students at St. Mary’s learned about food insecurity and helped with the food pantry before traveling to

Middle schoolers went to Bethel Presbyterian and helped sort clothes for a community closet. Children who stayed on campus learned more about the impact of our Casserole Blitzes and the ways BMPC seeks to work to support those struggling with food insecurity. Through our time together we practiced restoration and are ready to do more!

-wess stafford
"One of the most powerful forces on earth is the prayer of a child. "



This fall in the Youth Ministry, we've been busy! Excluding Youth in Worship Sundays, all youth are invited to Sunday morning programming. High school small groups met in the Youth Lounge, learning this past month about why we worship. Middle School students met in the Loft and spent several Sundays learning about how God welcomes all.

Confirmation students met in the gym classroom, and they have focused on what it means to be a Christian and the importance of the Bible. Lastly, Student Serve has resumed meeting on Wednesdays with students now gathering in the Youth Lounge. They've delved into such subjects as navigating stress, where God is in loneliness, and how prayer impacts our faith life.

On October 9, the Confirmation class participated in their first service activity – constructing a Memorial to the Lost for Heeding God's Call on the front lawn of the church. Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence is a faith-based movement that works to prevent gun violence. The installation was comprised of more than 100 T-shirts, each representing one person who died because of gun violence in Philadelphia in 2021. After a brief liturgy, Confirmands and their mentors came together to hammer in stakes, put together the PVC pipes that hold the T-shirts up, and place the T-shirts on the lawn.

In the coming months

Youth Ministry is hosting:

Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag

November 13

Missing camp from summer? Wish you could do something campy? Join Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag.

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Youth Leading!

Streaming out of the Sanctuary, the children had gathered in the Chapel before Sunday School. Asked about the morning's baptism, they were quick to remember the names of the babies baptized and the parts of the children's promise. Students were enthusiastically shouting, "Share the stories of Jesus!" "Help them when they need help!" "Be a friend!" "Show them the way."

Standing around the Chapel each of our classes had at least one high school volunteer. "Help them when they need help?" "Be a friend?" "Show them the way?" Each student embodied a promise made years before. There’s something sacred that happens when children are led and supported by teenagers. Children and youth grow together as youth model and practice faith, and children learn from them and share their own insights. This meets a fundamental longing. Children need "near peers" to help learn more about God and see themselves in the church. High school students, in particular, are looking for a place to serve and belong.

While Sunday School classes may be a great fit for some, others yearn for a place in which to use their gifts through something other than study. As such, through work with Children’s Ministry, high school youth were invited this fall to volunteer in Children’s Ministry as teaching assistants and helpers in Sunday School classes.

A student who helped before graduating last spring shared, "My favorite part about working with the kids was their creativity. Every morning they would always make things out of clay and would draw me pictures of their weekend. During the lesson they would always show interest in the story and would ask pretty funny questions.”

A current volunteer shared that his favorite part is "seeing how the children view things like prayer and how they react to the stories in the Bible that we learn.”

We currently have 10 students volunteering in various capacities, sharing their gifts to help the church grow even stronger.

Thanksgiving Pancake

November 24

The whole church is invited to a breakfast hosted by our Youth Ministry.


Rainbow Reindeer Games

December 11

An afternoon of fun and play with color powder to celebrate the Christmas season.



ne of the great gifts of having our records recently digitized by the Presbyterian Historical Society is that we can easily reach back in time to reflect on our own congregational story. These pages from The Messenger in December 1963 highlight the joys of the Advent and Christmas season, and note the church happenings on the calendar. Some things are certainly different. The annual Children’s Pageant took place not on Christmas Eve, but on the third Sunday of Advent. The Women’s Association held a Christmas

Tea. The Christmas Eve service, held at 10:45 p.m., was mostly carols, scripture, and prayers. And there was a Christmas Day morning service at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel, regardless of what day of the week that Christmas fell. Even with those differences, one thing remains the same: The church gathers in the dark of Christmas Eve to proclaim the good news that the God of all creation has come to dwell with us in the babe of Bethlehem. Make plans to join us as we celebrate Advent and Christmas at BMPC in 2022!




Monday through Friday

8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Wednesdays in Advent: November 30 & December 7, 14

7:00 - 7:45 p.m., Middleton Center


November 29: Gabriel Benton December 6: Kathleen Scheide

December 13: Anna Kislitsyna December 20: Silvania Reis


Sunday, December 4

4:00 p.m., Front Lawn


Sunday, December 11

3:00 p.m., Sanctuary


Wednesday, December 21

7:00 p.m., Sanctuary, and via Livestream


Saturday, December 24

4:30 p.m., Sanctuary, and via Livestream


Saturday, December 24

7:30 p.m., Sanctuary, and via Livestream


Each year, the Advent Gift Market (AGM) supports numerous charitable organizations that directly assist persons in need, thanks to the generosity of our many BMPC members and friends. AGM representatives will be available to accept order in the Atrium on Sundays during Advent. Online AGM orders may be submitted via the website: www.brynmawragm.com, mailed in, or dropped off at the church office. Contact Marian Chitester if you have any questions: mmcthistle@verizon.net.

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Helping Grant Christmas Wishes for Children and Families

Each December the children and youth served by Gemma Services write their holiday wish lists. “I want Legos!” and “I’d really love new art supplies to draw,” are just two examples of the gift wishes shared last year. Simple wishes like these are contrasted with the more poignant wish of another child who said, “I want a new family.”

During the holiday season, as well as all year long, Gemma strives to grant as many wishes as possible. Even if some of the children’s wishes are not simple to fill, with your help, Gemma is helping to ensure that each child feels valued, cared for, and heard – at Christmastime and throughout the year.

Will you help Gemma fulfill gift requests from these youth and families this holiday season?

There are several ways to grant wishes for children this Christmas. You may donate a gift card for a child or parent to choose their own gifts.

Gift cards in $25 increments from Target, Walmart, Amazon, Five Below, Marshalls/TJ Maxx, ShopRite, and Best Buy are preferred. If you wish to buy a gift, you can sponsor a child’s Christmas, https://bit.ly/BMPC_Xmas_Angels_2022, buy a general gift for a child (Legos, toiletry sets, Rubik’s Cubes, makeup, cards and card games, board games, fidget toys, basketballs or footballs, remote controlled cars), or purchase from Gemma’s Amazon wish List: https://bit.ly/GemmaNeeds .

Gift cards and unwrapped gifts need to be delivered by Sunday, December 4 (please let us know if you are delivering gifts other than Sunday morning) or by appointment on Gemma’s campus. PLEASE NOTE: Access to Gemma’s offices is restricted. Donation delivery is held at Gemma’s Plymouth Meeting campus and is by appointment only. All gifts are due to Gemma by Wednesday, December 7.

Thank you for making this Christmas special! For more information, contact Betty Wu at BMPCAngels@gmail.com .


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2022 Christmas Joy Offering

Each year during the Advent and Christmas season, we turn our eyes to Bethlehem and celebrate the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

The Christmas Joy Offering has been a cherished Presbyterian tradition since the 1930s. God has blessed the Church with incredible leadership in every time and place, but those leaders often need to be supported by their communities as well. This Offering addresses the support needed by some of our leaders, including supporting leadership development for communities of color, and providing support for Presbyterian church workers in their time of need.

The Offering distributes gifts equally to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and to Presbyterianrelated schools and colleges equipping communities of color. The Assistance Program provides critical financial support to church workers and their families. Presbyterian-related schools and colleges provide education and leadership development while nurturing racial and ethnic heritage. This has been a Presbyterian commitment for nearly 140 years.

To make a donation to the Christmas Joy Offering this season, you may use the envelopes provided in the pew racks of the Chapel and Sanctuary, text CHRISTMASJOY to 91999 or give online pcusa.org/give/christmasjoy.


Contributions may be given in three categories for listing in the Christmas Eve bulletin: “In memory of,” “In honor of,” or “In celebration of (marriage, retirement, birth, baptism).” Forms are available online at www.bmpc.org/flower- donations. The deadline is Sunday, December 4. Monies received are used yearround for our floral decorations and Deacons’ flower ministry.


Eugene C. Bay Fund for Urban Ministry

2022 Awardees

The Eugene C. Bay Fund for Urban Ministry was established in 2004 as a celebration of the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Eugene C. Bay who served as Pastor at BMPC from 1987-2004. Dr. Bay’s passion for urban ministry and commitment to the communities of West Philadelphia and Chester guided Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church through a season of revitalization and engagement in mission partnerships. Over the past several years more than 15 organizations have received funds totaling over $700,000.

This year Bryn Mawr Presbyterian celebrates 16 years of awarding grants through the Eugene C. Bay Fund for Urban Ministry. This fund seeks to support local organizations who are especially interested in working to enhance the physical, spiritual, educational and emotional lives of children in Philadelphia and Chester. This cycle the Bay Fund Committee (Maria Schneider, chair, Courtenay Willcox, Morris Kay, Joan LaLeike, Susan Bravo, John Vaughan, Abby Pottorff, Carl Reynolds, and Bonnie Callahan) has designated four organizations for a combination of two-year grants.



Aid (ELA) – Founded in 2019, Episcopal Legal Aid is run by Stephen Chawaga, a longtime attorney whose mission is to promote access to justice by bringing civil legal aid services to people in need in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. ELA addresses basic economic issues of clients by attending and engaging in free communitybased activities where ELA provides free consultations on issues such as family law, immigration, and evictions. ELA then provides follow-up services as needed, which might include drafting a will, calling a government agency, filing a claim, researching a legal issue, or even attending court. Funding will help ELA engage an additional attorney to assist with intake and casework. www.episcopallegalaid.org

Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA) – The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance is dedicated to providing healing and justice for sexually abused children in Philadelphia and is currently seeking aid specifically for their Caregiver Support Group Program. As the only child advocacy center in Philadelphia, PCA has unprecedented opportunities to intervene quickly on abuse allegations. PCA’s Caregiver Support Group Program objectives are to increase caregiver knowledge about child sexual abuse, to improve the caregiver’s ability to support and protect their children, to decrease the stress level and increase coping capacity of all caregivers, and to provide caregivers with a support system to enhance their overall wellness. www.philachildrensalliance.org

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Interfaith Philadelphia – Interfaith Philadelphia runs a variety of youth initiatives and programs for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and young adults. The organization’s signature youth initiative Walking the Walk targets students of any and no faith, grades six through college, and includes activities in schools, out-of-school, and summer programs. Through interfaith engagement, creative reflection, relationship building, and service learning, the students learn to appreciate the traditions and identities of others while taking pride in their own heritage and developing dialogue and leadership skills to help them in the future. Funding will help Interfaith Philadelphia prioritize the expansion of their revenue-generating programs such as Alternative Break and private school partnerships to ensure long-term sustainability. www.interfaithphiladelphia.org

Urban Tree Connection (UTC) – UTC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to build a neighborhood-rooted food and land system through community leadership development and land-based strategies in West Philadelphia. UTC is specifically seeking aid for its Food Sovereignty Share (FSS) program, which seeks to fight hunger, reduce food insecurity, and improve community health in West Philadelphia by increasing food security for children and families and cultivating community leadership and participation. Funding will allow UTC to increase its capacity to grow community leadership and a membership base for neighbors to have greater agency over their well-being and lives, and to advance UTC’s mission of building an equitable and community-led food system. www.urbantreeconnection.org


BMPC Stewardship: Hope Grows Here

The Stewardship Committee recently held a retreat to plan for the 2023 Stewardship Campaign. In preparation, we read selected passages from the book, Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship, a collection of essays that consider the ways that stewardship transcends financial pledges and contributions. It offers reflections on the different ways that we all practice stewardship in our daily lives. We steward our time by managing our calendars; we steward our bodies through nutrition and healthcare; and we steward our spiritual lives through our active participation in the ministries and programs of our church.

Our theme for the 2023 Stewardship Campaign is Hope Grows Here. We have all seen firsthand how stewardship fosters hope. We plant the seeds of hope with the Pre-K and kindergartners of our church in the Worship Center on Sundays. We cultivate hope among our children and youth as Sunday School teachers, Confirmation mentors and volunteers. As Deacons, Elders and Trustees we nurture hope among our congregation. With our support of mission work we extend hope beyond our church into the larger community here and around the world. All of us make it possible for hope to grow here. In this Advent season of preparation, let us consider what new seeds of hope we can plant. Together we have the opportunity to grow in our faith, to be stewards of God’s creation, to bring hope to a world that needs it. We invite you to participate in our 2023 Stewardship Campaign animated by the spirit of hope, with gratitude for the many gifts God has given us and with the knowledge that we are all members of the BMPC Stewardship Committee.

With hope and gratitude,

The BMPC Stewardship Committee

Kara Udicious, Jean Reynolds, David Reiner, Frank Pottorff, Bill Matthai, Whitney Hoffman, Katie Hirt, Judy Frazier and Elliot Dee

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Sundays, December 4, 11 & 18 11:15 a.m., Fullerton Room

Unto Us A Child is Born: Advent, Isaiah and our Jewish Neighbors

In 2018 I traveled to Israel and Palestine with Rabbi David Straus, former senior rabbi at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, and other local and national interfaith clergy to explore the complex issues in the region and the ways those issues play out in our relationships as Christians and Jews in the United States. We discussed geography, history, politics, anti-Semitism and denominational politics. But toward the end of our trip, when I was in a reflection group with another pastor and two rabbis, we realized how much we wished that we had spent time exploring Scripture together. It is an odd thing that our two faith traditions share so much in common and yet we have so much that separates us from one another.

I gave an example to the group from the Book of Job, in particular Job 19:25: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.”

Of course as Christians we can hardly hear this verse and not think of the beautiful solo from Handel’s Messiah based on these words, with the real implication that the Redeemer to whom Job declares confidence is Jesus Christ.

My Jewish colleagues had no idea this passage – which is all about his confidence in the community to support him – is used by Christians to talk about Jesus because the Hebrew doesn’t just translate as Redeemer, but rather “kinsman-redeemer” which is a very specific community-linked idea.

While we weren’t able to explore questions like this on our trip, I have been grateful for all the other moments when I have taught together with Rabbi David Straus, exploring so many other texts that we share in common but often interpret and use in different ways – from the fall of Adam and Eve to Psalm 23, and from the command to love one’s neighbor to the sacrifice of Isaac.

Drawing upon the insights from Tyler Mayfield’s new book, Unto Us A Child is Born: Advent, Isaiah and our Jewish Neighbors, Rabbi Straus and I will lead a three-week conversation on the different historical and theological understandings of the most iconic passages from the Book of Isaiah. We will examine the original context in which Isaiah was written, the traditional Jewish interpretations and significance of the prophet, and the ways that Christians have come to understand the Book of Isaiah in relation to Jesus Christ and the liturgical season of Advent.

If you have never had the opportunity to study with Rabbi Straus, I especially invite you to join us to experience his thoughtful and deeply insightful ability to understand the nuances between our traditions, to contextualize the Hebrew Scriptures in the worship life of the Jewish community, and to be curious about our own Christian understanding of our shared traditions. I hope you will use this opportunity as we await the birth of the Christ Child again this year to be curious and broaden your own experience of Scripture.


The Messenger

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church 625 Montgomery Avenue Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 610-525-2821

The Messenger (USPS #341840) Volume #124, Issue #4, is published quarterly by the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Periodical postage paid at Southeastern, Pennsylvania and additional offices.

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The Messenger

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church 625 Montgomery Avenue Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Christmas Eve Schedule

4:30 P.M. Christmas Eve Family Service with Nativity Tableau, Sanctuary and Livestreamed at www.bmpc.org/livestream.

7:30 P.M. Christmas Eve Service of Lessons & Carols, Sanctuary and Livestreamed at www.bmpc.org/livestream.

Inclement Weather Policy

If the church closes due to inclement weather and unsafe travel conditions, notice will be provided on our website, www.bmpc.org, on our social media channels, and with a recorded message at our main church phone number: 610-525-2821. Decisions to cancel scheduled BMPC programs will be made by the person in charge of the ministry area. For information, contact the person in charge.



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