Wednesday, November 27, 2019 Newsletter

For this Sunday, December 1 at 10 a.m.:
Combined Service in the Sanctuary
Communion - First Sunday of Advent

No Sunday School or Hospitality this Sunday

Advent Gathering after service in Fellowship Hall
Wednesday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Eve Service , 7 p.m. - Sanctuary

Tonight is Thanksgiving Eve, and we will we gather together in worship to celebrate the many ways God has blessed us to be a blessing. This is a joyous service of music and praise, with heartfelt testimonials from members sharing stories of thankfulness.

Communion will be offered for all who wish to partake. We will also have child care available.
When I was a child, Advent always made a lot more sense to me than Lent. In the Christian church, we typically talk about Advent as a season of waiting, and that’s exactly what Advent felt like: waiting for Christmas to come.

We had an Advent calendar in my house that was made to look like a Christmas tree, and each day of Advent had a little pocket that held an ornament. So each morning in Advent my brother and I would get up, and we would take turns snapping the ornament of the day onto one of the branches of the Advent calendar tree. 
It was how we waited in Advent, marking the time on the tree, even though sometimes it felt that time was somehow slowing down as we did so: “how is it still 16 days before Christmas?!? It’s been forever since we put that first ornament on!”
The first time I saw one of those movies where a prisoner is marking time in a jail cell with little scratches on the wall, I felt like he was making his own Advent calendar to show how long he had been waiting and how long he still had to wait. And that’s often how Advent feels, though as an adult it often feels like time is speeding up as Christmas comes: “how is it only six days before Christmas?!? I’m not ready!”
But that understanding and experience of Advent, though common, is missing a few important things. First, the word “Advent” literally means “coming” or “arriving.” So any “advent” is not about something that is still off in the future; it is about something that is already in motion, already beginning to happen.

Which is why, when we light the Advent wreath this Sunday, the Scripture that we read says “the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light,” not “…will see a great light.” It’s already happening!

Second, Advent is not simply about marking time, anticipating the arrival of Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth. It is at least as much about anticipating Christ’s final coming at the end of time to “make all things new,” as the book of Revelation puts it. And so the question is, what does it mean to wait for that? That’s what we will consider in worship this Sunday as we begin Advent together.
So, please remember that there is a special schedule this Sunday, with a single Combined Worship Service at 10 a.m. that will have elements of both contemporary and traditional styles of worship.

And following that, there is an Advent Gathering in the Fellowship Hall with food and crafts to help us all begin this season of Advent. I hope to see you there!
Grace and Peace,

Isaiah 2:1-5
Matthew 24:36-44
·      This week’s sermon: In the Meantime by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
  • Our Children's Christmas Choir will sing, under the direction of Rev. Cynthia Simmons. See additional information below for the singers' families.
  • All children in attendance at Sunday's service are welcome to come forward to assist in lighting the first Advent candle.
  • Blood pressure screenings will be offered before the service in the North Link (adjacent to Fellowship Hall)
  • Hearts N Minds (adult education) begins a new Advent meditation under the leadership of Jan Bickford; see details below.
To celebrate the first day of Advent on Sunday, Dec. 1, we have planned a special schedule to help us joyously welcome the season.
We will join together in a Combined Worship Service at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary. The Children’s Christmas Choir will sing, and communion will be offered for those who wish to participate; there will be no Sunday School on this day.

At approximately 11 a.m., we will follow the service with an ‘all ages’ luncheon in Fellowship Hall – we will provide soups, grilled cheese and Christmas cookies. Then we will offer activities for all ages, so we hope you will join in this time of food, fun and fellowship.

We can use more bakers (or buyers) to bring Christmas cookies and/or to volunteer - use the button to access the easy online sign-up, or contact us at 610-867-5865 or

The second annual Giving Tree will be in place starting Sunday, Dec. 1 through Tuesday, Dec. 24 in Fellowship Hall. As last year, you can purchase everything from a family of chickens to water systems for people around the world, where they are needed.
Choose your ornament(s), get your gift card and return all payments (made out to PCUSA) to Fellowship Hall or the Main Office no later than Dec. 24 (you can also drop in the collection plate). 

This is a thoughtful way to honor a family member or friend during the holiday season, while helping our neighbors around the globe.
ALSO FOR ADVENT… pick up in the Narthex and Rotunda

  • You are encouraged to pick up an Advent Devotional publication: Straw for the Manger: Creating a Matthew 25 Advent season. One per household, please.

  • We also have postcards available with our December events and services – these are available to share with friends and family. If you mail it, please affix first class postage. Thanks for helping to share the good news about First Pres!

  • Poinsettia orders: Special envelopes are available in the pews, Rotunda and brochure racks, to return by Monday. Dec. 16. Make any donation and take home a poinsettia after the Christmas Eve service you attend; this is a lovely way to honor a loved one.
During the Advent and Christmas season, the church’s response to God’s generosity takes on the very character of our savior, who pointed to God through love and justice, peace and compassion, forgiveness and humility. The Presbyterian Church USA reflects God’s gift to us, through the Christmas Joy Offering, with gifts supporting church leaders, retired, present and future.

Envelopes and informational brochures are at the end of each pew, in the Rotunda, and in the racks around the church. This offering will be taken each Sunday through Dec. 22.
HEARTS N MINDS Adult Education

Jan Bickford will start the Advent Meditation series this Sunday, Dec. 1 for the four weeks in December. Hearts N Minds meets at 9 a.m. on Sundays in Room 400 - everyone is welcome to attend.

The Children’s Christmas Choir will sing during the Combined Worship Service this Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
The children will rehearse that morning before worship at 9:30 a.m. in the Choir Room. To reach the Choir Room, come around to the back of the church buildings, and look for the Center Building – the one that sticks out the back with the steeple on top. Enter the left-hand door, come down the steps and go through the door at the bottom. The Choir Room will be right around the corner on the right. This is the only chance the children have to rehearse with David Macbeth, who will accompany them, so it is important that all children be in the Choir Room promptly at 9:30. 

After rehearsal, they will be brought up to the Sanctuary to sit with their families until it is time to sing.

They will rehearse the following Sundays - Dec. 8, 15 and 22 - in preparation for singing at the Christmas Joy Concert – 4:00 p.m. on Dec. 22; and again for the 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service.  
We are looking for a few volunteers to help with the Christmas decorating around our building.

We will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 10 starting at
10 a.m. It should take no more than 2-3 hours; please feel free to come as you can. All levels of experience are welcome.
Please let us know if you can help by using this easy online sign-up form, or contacting the Main Office at 610-867-5865 or

Wednesday, December 18 at 6:30 p.m.: Longest Night service – for those who are experiencing any kind of loss during this holiday season

Sunday, December 22 at 4 p.m.: Christmas Joy Concert , featuring FPCB’s Chancel Choir and Chancel Ringers Handbell Choir, Children’s Christmas Choir, Charter Arts High School Touring Choir, and Elysium String Quartet

Tuesday, December 24 – Christmas Eve services:
  • 5 p.m.: Intergenerational Service (designed for all ages with elements of both traditional and contemporary music, including music by the Children’s Christmas Choir and Chancel Ringers Handbell Choir); child care available
  • 7:30 p.m.: Traditional Candlelight Service (featuring music by the FPCB Chancel Choir and Hill-to-Hill Brass Quartet); child care available
  • 11 p.m.: Candlelight Service with communion for those who wish to participate.
Two opportunities for you:

  • Doing your grocery shopping at Giant? Register your Giant Bonus Card with our Preschool code, and a portion of your purchase will go to them. Easy instructions are here.

  • Shop at the Preschool's Book Fair at Barnes & Noble (Southmont location) on Wednesday, Dec. 11 - special activities from 5-7 p.m. but you can shop all day. Can't make it? Shop online between Dec. 11-16. All the details here.
We would like to know when our members are entering the hospital. Please tell the hospital that your church ID is 724 and they will contact us. You can also contact Melody Engel at 484-695-4905 or to keep us up to date.
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for next week's newsletter: Wednesday at noon
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • Blood pressure screenings before Combined Service, in North Link (adjacent to Fellowship Hall)
  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 10:00 a.m. - Combined Worship Service (Communion) in Sanctuary
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 9:00 a.m. to noon, Room A3
  • 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.: Advent Gathering, Fellowship Hall

MONDAYS: “It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS:   Depression Support Group , 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 420
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: Dec. 1): Blood Pressure Screenings, before Combined Service,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Dec. 8 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; meet after
10:30 a.m. service - watch newsletter for new location information
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Dec. 3): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Dec. 18):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY ( no meeting in December; next: Jan. 16): Prayers & Squares,
10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Room 408 (bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls)

CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: We are open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. As always, you can leave a voicemail message with the church any time at 610-867-5865 or contact us at . I f you have an urgent pastoral need, please call our answering service at 610-778-7003. The office and building will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving; we will re-open on Monday, Dec. 2.

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 ( note new phone): 610-737-4074  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 Manager: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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