December 14, 2018



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR J.C. AUSTIN: Waiting for the Light to Come
This coming Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, has the Advent theme of Joy. That is why one of the candles is pink; it goes back to when Advent was primarily a season of personal penitence, like Lent, in preparing for Christ’s return. A Sunday devoted to joy, then, was a kind of interruption in the penitential season to remind us that Christ’s deliverance was coming soon, and that is a cause for great joy.

Joy is not the same thing as happiness, though. As theologian Henri Nouwen has said, “We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there because it comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us.” It is common to decry the commercialism of the Christmas season, but personally, I think the coercive way that happiness and good cheer is imposed on people during the secular Christmas season is a bigger problem. 
Many people have very good reasons not to be happy or cheerful right now: they are grieving the death of a loved one; they have lost a job or are miserable in the one they have; they or someone they love is
experiencing a crisis; they are estranged from their family or in conflict with them; they have lost a relationship they cherished, or remain in a relationship that is toxic or simply dead. Or many other such experiences of loss and grief, even over the general state of their lives or the world.  
The Advent wreath for our Contemporary Service
That is why, between the third and fourth Sunday of Advent, we are holding a “Longest Night Service.” The name is a metaphorical reference to the longest night of the year, December 21, which happens around this time. But it also refers to the experience of waiting in the dark of night for the light to come. While the rising of the sun is certain, and soon, it doesn’t feel that way when you’re alone in the depths of the night.

So: on Wednesday, December 19, at 6:30 PM, we will gather in the Sanctuary for the Longest Night Service. This contemplative service allows us to acknowledge our sense of loss even and especially in the midst of our joy in Christ’s love for us, to entrust it to God through a candlelighting ritual, and to receive God’s hope, love, joy, and peace through the Word and the sacrament of communion. I am pleased that the Rev. Dr. Sally Brown, former associate pastor at FPCB and currently the Elizabeth M. Engle Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Princeton Seminary, will be our preacher for the evening.

I hope that you will join us for this powerful service, and that you will hold all those who need it most in special prayer during this Advent season.

Grace and Peace,
  • Hospitality will be offered after each of our two services, in Fellowship Hall. Be sure to drop by the Giving Tree (details below).
  • Join us for the Christmas Joy Concert at 4 PM in the Sanctuary; details following:
All members of our church family are invited to attend a brief presentation in Fellowship Hall at 10:00 AM on Sunday, December 23, when the children of our church school and some of our high school youth will tell the story of the carol, Silent Night. 
This year, we celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the writing of this carol, and so it is a good time to tell the story of how Silent Night was written, how it spread, and the impact it has had on our world.

Whether you worship at 9:00 or at 10:30, our young people hope you will come to Fellowship Hall at 10:00 for this special presentation. We have kept it simple – like the carol itself – but hope you will come away with a deeper appreciation of this beloved piece of music.
We are in need of some extra hands for Christmas Eve, and again on Thursday, December 27 to help with post-Christmas clean-up. Please email us at if you can help. For Christmas Eve:

  • Greet and assist guests arriving and leaving for each service (both outside and inside the building; come half an hour before the service).
  • Help refresh the sanctuary between the services (change out the organ loft candles and refresh candle cup bins).

Volunteers are welcomed on Thursday, December 27 from 9 AM-noon for general clean-up (remove candle wax, vacuum, etc.). Meet in the Narthex.
This special offering that goes to PCUSA will be taken each Sunday through December 23; the gifts will support church leaders: retired, present and future.
Help us beautify our church by purchasing beautiful double poinsettias that will be used to decorate for the season – then you can take home to enjoy after you attend a Christmas Eve service.
Orders are due by Monday, December 17; use the “Flower Offering” envelope (with the poinsettia on it, pictured) that are available in the sanctuary pews, Rotunda, Narthex, and Fellowship Hall brochure racks. You can return it in the collection plate or to the Main Office.

Instead of a set price, we ask you to make a donation of your choice. You can designate your gift “in honor” or “in memory” of a loved one, if you like.
This Advent we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference to families and children across the globe. In supporting the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, we show how being a denomination of connections – people who are faithful followers of Christ – translates into real and positive impact by supporting the Presbyterian Mission.
Our Giving Tree is now in Fellowship Hall. Your family can choose from a variety of gifts, including $10 for a farming tools kit, $25 for a kitchen kit, and $40 for a piglet. Choose your ornament(s) and return all payments (made out to PCUSA) to Fellowship Hall no later than December 16 (you can also drop in the collection plate).
Hearts N Minds has begun a four week Advent study this Sunday based on the book,
Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent , by Pamela Hawkins. Please join us even if you've not read the book or attended last week.
The first two Sundays in January, Ron Helmuth will lead the Hearts N Minds class in an exploration of the lectionary readings from the prior Sunday. We are starting the New Year with a planful study of Scripture and how to apply it to our daily living. Then, on January 20, the class will begin a study of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.
Our FPCB Preschool is sponsoring a Bookfair at the Barnes & Noble, 4445 Southmont Way, on Monday, December 17 from 5:00-7:00 PM. Enjoy a performance by the students, and pick up gifts and good reads (and treats) for yourself!

Can’t make it? Visit and enter Bookfair ID 12388229 at checkout; a percentage of any purchases made between December 17-22 will be credited to our Preschool program.
Preschool to Grade 5

For the 9:00 service, the class is in room A4 in the childcare suite on the first floor of the Kirk Center (near the Kirk Center lobby). Parents are asked to bring their children to A4 before the service.

During the 10:30 service, the children will attend the first part of worship with their families and leave with their teachers after the Children’s Chat. Please remember to sign up your children in the Narthex before going into the service.

The same curriculum will be used in both classes, and, as in the past, child care will be available during both services for younger children. If you have any questions, please contact  Elizabeth Conard .
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem

  • Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship
  • 9:00 AM Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 AM Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 9:00 AM Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 10:30 AM Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 10:30 AM Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5 (Children attend first part of worship service), Room E3-4
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 AM to 12 PM, Room A3

Tuesday, December 18 at 2 PM: Memorial Service for Fred Beste in the Sanctuary

MONDAYS:  It’s a Start fitness class, 10 AM, Middle School Step
TUESDAYS:  Easy Balance and Strength fitness class, 9:30 AM, Room 178
TUESDAYS:  Handbell Choir rehearsal, 5:30-6:30 PM, Middle School Step
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 PM, Room 408 (no meeting Wednesday, December 26)
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 PM, Sanctuary

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (December 18 and January 8) : Successful Aging,
10:30 AM, Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (December 19):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1:00 PM, Room 206 (PW Room)

Sunday, December 16 at 4 PM: Christmas Joy Concert featuring the Chancel Choir and
the Touring Choir of Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts

Wednesday, December 19 at 6:30 PM : Longest Night Service (for anyone experiencing a loss of any kind)

Monday, December 24 ( Christmas Eve ):
   5 PM: Intergenerational Service (a service designed for all ages with both traditional
and contemporary music)
   7:30 PM: Traditional Candlelight Service 
   11 PM: Christmas Communion

 CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: Office hours are typically Monday through Thursday from
9 AM to 4 PM.   The office will be closed from Friday, December 21 through Monday, December 31 when we will be open from 9 AM – noon. We will be closed on Tuesday, January 1, and will re-open for regular hours on Wednesday, January 2. 

As always, you may leave a voicemail message with the church any time at 610-867-5865.

CARE CONCERNS AND HOSPITAL VISITS: If members of the FPCB congregation are hospitalized and would welcome pastoral and hospital ministrant visitors and/or prayers, please contact:
    Melody Engel, Hospital Ministrants, phone: 484-695-4905 or email 
    Phil Fair, Prayer Ministrants,  phone: 610-867-8361 or email   

BAPTISMS, WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS : If members of the FPCB congregation would like to schedule weddings, baptisms or funerals, please contact The Rev. Sue Bennetch at 610-867-5865, ext. 209.
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 ∙ 610-867-5865

The Rev. J.C. Austin , Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213,

The Rev. Sue Bennetch , Pastoral Care Associate: ext. 209;

David Macbeth , Music Director: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

Andrea Barbehenn , Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;