Friday, December 27, 2019 Newsletter

SUNDAY SERVICES: 9:00 a.m. Contemporary ∙ 10:30 a.m. Traditional

There will be no Sunday School nor Hearts N Minds this Sunday

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
For next week –

  • Monday, Dec. 30: The Main Office and Building will be open from 9 a.m. –
4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 31: The Main Office and Building will be open from 9 a.m. – noon, in case you would like to make a year-end donation to take advantage of tax benefits.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 1: The Main Office and Building will be closed.
  • Thursday, Jan. 2: We resume our regular Main Office and Building schedule.

Our newsletter will be on its regular schedule.

The poet W.H. Auden summed up how many people view the week after Christmas in his poem, For the Time Being . As he sits in the aftermath of Christmas celebrations, he reflects:
Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,
putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes –
Some have got broken – and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week –
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully –
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. 
It was written in the early 1940s, but it sounds like it could have been written yesterday! Many people feel like Christmas ends after the big celebration on Dec. 25, and the last week of December devolves into a time of putting decorations away, exchanging and returning gifts, and trying to eat up leftovers before they go bad. With that understanding of the aftermath of Christmas, no wonder people often feel tired and even a bit downhearted.
That’s part of why I think there’s wisdom in the old liturgical tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. For much of Christianity, including Presbyterians, Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas, not the last. In fact, Christmas as a season lasts twelve days up to Epiphany, when we celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) who come from the East bearing gifts for Christ. And so the decorations stay up because we have just started celebrating Christ’s birth, and we don’t get the immediate letdown of an end on Dec. 26. The aftermath of Christmas Day, then, is an ongoing celebration of Christ’s birth.

 But the aftermath of Christmas also has a much deeper power, as well; the birth of Jesus Christ as Emanuel, “God with us,” provokes more consequences and reactions from the world than just joy and celebration, because in Jesus Christ, God is re-announcing God’s claim upon this earth and all that is in it, including us.

This Sunday we’ll be looking at why and how the aftermath of Christmas is very much good news, a crucial part of the gospel that we sometimes pack away too early with our decorations. So I hope you will be here in worship on Sunday if you are home, and if you are on the road, you can listen to the recording on our website at the beginning of next week!

Grace and Peace,

Isaiah 63:7-9  
Matthew 2:13-23
·      This week’s sermon:  The Aftermath of Christmas  by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
Many thanks...
to all of the many volunteers and staff who made the Christmas Joy Concert and Christmas Eve services so successful!
Getting Through the Holidays When you’ve Lost a Loved One
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

For those who have lost a loved one, please know that I have you in my prayers. We look back at times when our loved one was with us, and we wish they were still here. We miss them. The light of past Christmases is not as bright as before.

My message to you is this: No matter how dim, the light is still there, and the blessings of Christ’s birth are still with you. Take a moment and allow yourself to feel its warmth and love. 

Your church family is thinking of you during this time; and we offer faith, hope and love for the New Year.

For those who have been attending our Bereavement Support Group, I pray that it has been helpful. For those who have not yet attended, please accept my invitation to join us on the second Sunday of the month (our next gathering will be on Sunday, Jan. 12). 

Since we began the group we have tried several venues but have now settled on having our meeting here at the church, meeting from noon-1:30 p.m. (If you would like, you are welcome to bring a bagged lunch.)

Being with others who too have experienced a loss are looking forward to offering their support to you and yours to them. If you have any questions, or would like to talk, please call me at 610-217-1171.
Sue Bennetch
We recently received several new members into the congregation, and we’d like you to meet them here – please extend a warm welcome to each of them:
From left:

Evelyn Kuserk

Kim Miner

Jane Mackie
From left:

Zach Jerrold, Stevi Jerrold and children
There will be no Sunday School and no Hearts N Minds this Sunday, Dec. 29 nor on Sunday, Jan. 5.

Hearts N Minds will return on Jan. 12 to revisit the classic book by Sister Joan Chittister, For Everything a Season.
Elder Joanne Kelhart, chair of the Worship Committee, has put out a call for assistance for these two volunteer positions:

·          Coordinator of the readers for the worship services. This was being done by Cindy Simmons but she will no longer be doing it; however, she will still do the intros. The coordinator will maintain the list of readers for both services and schedule them to read. They also need to be able to email the volunteers and send them a schedule.

·          Coordinator of the greeters for the worship services; same tasks as the above position - this person will put together a schedule and contact the greeters. 

Both of these jobs are done bimonthly. For more information or to volunteer, contact Joanne at .
At the January Stated Assembly of Lehigh Presbytery we will have a special speaker, Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains. Tod will share a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you re-imagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world.

It will be held on Friday, Jan. 24 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at our church. Watch for further details!
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: Wedneday at noon**
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • After each service: Hospitality Hour; join us in Fellowship Hall for light refreshments and fellowship
  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: Jan. 5): Blood Pressure Screenings, before Combined Service,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Jan. 12 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; watch for details
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Jan. 7): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY ( next: Jan. 15 ):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room
THIRD THURSDAY (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 typically 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.

Monday, Dec. 30: Office and building open
Tuesday, Dec. 31: Office closes at noon; building open
Wednesday, Jan. 1: Office and building closed
Thursday, Jan. 2: Office and building open

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;