December 16, 2021
Word from the Pastor:
Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Hebrews 2:14–18

The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof; yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance… The Lord Jesus in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure; having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell: to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 8, Sections 2 & 3

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks reviewing the doctrine of the hypostatic union (Chalcedonian definition), how that relates to the virgin birth, and what it means to say that God became flesh, one of us. Now we conclude this little excursus with the most important question of all: why?

Why did God do it this way? Why go to all of these lengths? Why was all of this (union of two natures in one person, being of one substance) necessary? Why all this elaborate theological discussion and categories without end and hair splitting?
Here we combine the insight of Hebrews 2 and the Westminster Confession. You see, we needed a bridge, a mediator between our estate and God. If it were up to us, or by our power, we would have been lost in our sinful state forever. I know that’s a sort of Sunday catch-all phrase, our being lost in sin. But each and every one of us was truly lost apart from this grace because our rebellion put an infinite chasm, an inseparable barrier between a holy God and our fallen humanity.

You don’t need deep theological analysis to see that this is the case. For all our talk of progress, of how things have gotten better over the thousands of years of recorded human history, we are as broken today as we ever were. If there were ever an empirically provable doctrine of faith, it would be the doctrine of sin and depravity. You have only to open a newspaper and read the headlines to know that this is a proper conclusion. Try as we might, we fall into the same patterns of avarice, pride, ignorance, and violence, regardless of our educational level or economic development.

Because we cannot and could never save ourselves, it was part of God’s eternal, saving purpose to redeem us despite ourselves. What is so amazing is the means by which God did it: becoming one of us, sympathizing with our lowly estate while overcoming it with his power. In the incarnation, we have the marvelous power of God on display but in the way of gentle humility that puts our powers and our pride to shame. The incarnation and the power of God in the Lord Jesus puts to death human pride and allows the Lord Jesus to be the Mediator necessary to bridge the chasm between the triune God and ourselves.

I like the way Reformed Christian rapper Shai Linne puts it in his rhyme “Hypostatic Union,” from his album Lyrical Theology Part I:

By faith we believe this amazing Jesus
Who made Uranus and Venus became a fetus
It’s such a secret that few, if anybody, knew it
Months later, He’s covered in amniotic fluid
The Subject of the gospels, praise of Apostles
Armed with eye sockets, arm pits and nostrils?
Who is this Jesus? God clothed in human weakness
Super sweetness and peace for the true believers
See the One who never tires knocked out sleeping
See the Source of eternal joy weeping
Which one can explain how the Son, abundant with fame
Who made thunder and rain now has hunger pains?
See the Creator of water become thirsty
On the cross when He saves from the slaughter the unworthy
My awe should be sky high and I ought to just cry, “Why?”
With water in my eyes when the Author of Life dies
Raised on the third, God man–soul seeker
The Hypostatic Unionit gets no deeper

This Christmas, as we gather with family and friends and celebrate the good gifts we have all received, let us never lose sight of the greatest gift given to the human race: the Lord Jesus, God’s mercy to us wretched sinners, and the Father’s heart at union with the broken.

In Christ,
Pastor Sam

December 19
4th Sunday of Advent
Psalm 80:1–7
Micah 5:1–5a
Luke 1:39–55
Down, But Not Out
Sam Weddington
Last Sunday’s Attendance
9:00: In person: 152;
Livestream: 33; Playback: 84
11:00: In person: 76;
Livestream: 16; Playback: 47
Sunday, December 19
9:00 a.m.
Contemporary Worship
Fellowship Hall
10:10 a.m.
Sunday School
11:00 a.m.
Traditional Worship
3:00 p.m.
Advent Organ Meditation
4:00 p.m.
Evangelism & Outreach Committee
Room 123
Monday, December 20
9:00 a.m.
Staff Christmas Breakfast
7:00 p.m.
Session of Elders
Room 123
Wednesday, December 22
7:00 p.m.
Praise Band Practice
Fellowship Hall
7:15 p.m.
Choir Practice
Room 202
Thursday, December 23
7:00 a.m.
Men’s Bible Study
Friday, December 24
Church offices closed
5:00 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
7:00 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight
Communion Service
Christmas Worship Services
We will hold two candlelight worship services on Christmas Eve, each in the sanctuary. Our 5:00 service will be child friendly; during the 7:00 service we will take communion. On December 26, the first Sunday of Christmas, we will have a combined worship service in the sanctuary at 11:00. Sunday School will not be held. Youth programming will resume in the new year.

Seek Sanctuary Sunday Afternoon
Please join me this Sunday, December 19, at 3:00 p.m. for one hour of peaceful meditation. I will be playing music based on hymns related to the season of Advent. This is not a concert, and this is not a church service. This is just an hour of organ music without spoken program notes or applause. This event will not be livestreamed; you must be there in person. Please take time out from your holiday busyness and come to the sanctuary! I look forward to seeing you. /Bob Greene

Children’s Ministry Security Review
We want to thank everyone for working with us as we take steps to ensure the safety of all the children who are entrusted to our care. As part of our security measures, we welcome parents to drop off and pick up kids, signing them in and out at the appropriate times. We have sign-in sheets at the nursery and for Kids’ Kirk and Sunday School, and we are locking the doors of the education wing for safety. Parents can gain access to their child at any time by using one of the key cards hanging on the wall next to Lilly Osborne’s office door.

We ask that parents not distract classes by hovering in the hallways during instructional time. Keeping the hallways clear also helps ensure that children are where they need to be when in our care. Again, thank you for working with us.
Success and Joy in Campus Ministry
The year 2021 has been a tough but rewarding one. God has moved in a mighty way in our church and on the King University campus, thanks to the generous donations of time and resources by our congregation and the Missionary Emergency Fund. My role here at First Pres and at King has been pure joy. As we wrap up this semester, I share with great enthusiasm the victories God helped us achieve in building a bridge between FPC Bristol and King University.

Thank you to all who prayed, supported, and helped us facilitate meal trains and worship nights! God’s mighty presence has brought at least twelve students to the small group Bible studies on campus, led by senior student Stephen L. on Monday mornings. We have supported this time of study with coffee, hot chocolate, and tea to warm the attendees as they study God’s Word.

A big thank you to Dr. Brian Alderman for giving me the opportunity to lead a Tuesday evening rehearsal in King Chapel and lead worship with the Chapel Band every Wednesday morning. This has been a refreshing time on campus, and it’s an honor to see God’s children lift their voices to our God in corporate worship. Thanks to Chase Arndt in the Student Life Office, God has helped us propagate the Christian faith on the King campus. Our church has established a Creative Team with two King students serving as interns and the possibility of another in the spring.
Church Fam, you have truly supported the mission, education, and outreach activities of First Presbyterian Church of Bristol. I give thanks to the dedicated church instrumentalists (Bob Greene, Justin Miller, Peter Meredith, Melissa Galliher, Favour Maji, Josh King, Geneva King, Lilly Osborne, T-Rex Meredith, Blake Collins) and all our vocalists (Katie M, Davita S, Ginny Osborne, and our beloved Kids’ Kirk Praise Team and Bell Ringers).

An intergenerational, functional Praise Team is growing into maturity and becoming vessels unto honor. Thirty to forty King students gather every Sunday night to worship, and one of them shares God’s Word. On December 1, more than fifty student athletes gathered in the cafeteria for the re-establishment of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Five or six students rededicated themselves and gave their lives to Christ. We also celebrated one of our Chapel Band pianists during her recital at King.

As the year ends, I must express my deep appreciation to the members of our church, the Senior Pastor, the entire staff, the session, and the Worship Committee, all of whom have seen value in this ministry and given us the opportunity to express our gifts. I believe God will help us as a church to see more cross-collaborative outreach in 2022.

In Christ’s Grip,
Jeremiah Swam Sidi
Director of Contemporary Worship and
Campus Ministry Evangelist, King University
Student Christmas Party Was Sweet!
Student Fellowship had a busy Sunday. FPC youth ushered in the holidays by baking cookies to spread a bit of joy to others during the holidays. They also enjoyed a Christmas party with a white elephant gift exchange and shared dinner. Looks like they had fun!
Brazil Mission Exploratory Meeting
On Sunday, January 9, at 10:15 a.m., all those interested in the possibility of traveling to Brazil for a mission trip to Felipe Camarão and Cidade Nova in Natal are invited to the chapel for a brief presentation about what we hope to accomplish there and an overview of previous trips. You need not commit to the trip at this first meeting. Instead, we hope it will be an opportunity to explore whether God is calling you to get to know our brothers and sisters there and work with them to advance God’s kingdom.

Our COVID Protocols
We encourage masks for those not fully vaccinated, or at higher risk of COVID-19 complications. In line with CDC guidelines, please consult your healthcare provider about vaccination.

Volunteer with BFIA
Bristol Faith in Action, an organization that meets needs in Bristol through partnership with churches and others in our community, needs volunteers. There are a number of helper positions open in reception, appointment setting, and the like. For more information, call the Director of BFIA, DeVonne Phipps, at (276) 466-8292, or email her at
Returning Pledges
If you have not yet made your 2022 pledge, you can do so now by picking up a pledge card at the church or downloading a copy here. You can drop off the completed card at the church office or mail it in, or email your pledge directly to our business manager, Betsy Galliher.

How to Join Us Online
You can watch the livestream of our worship services and other activities at FPC Bristol on YouTube. Click on the link and hit “Subscribe” to receive notifications of new videos. To connect to our various Facebook sites, go to Facebook and type in FPC Bristol. Several accounts will show up. “Like” the page or ask to join a group.

Give Safely
We encourage you to use text, mail, or our website to safely continue your faithful support of our ministries during the pandemic. You can give online by going to our website and clicking on “Give” in the upper right corner. You can send your pledge, offering, or special gift by texting fpcbristol to 73256, or mail your checks directly to the church.
RMD, QCD, and Your Year-End Gift

If you are planning to make a year-end gift to First Presbyterian Church and are required take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from a taxable retirement plan, please consider talking to your financial advisor about a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD).

A QCD is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA, payable directly to a qualified charity as defined in the QCD provision in the Internal Revenue Code. Amounts distributed as a QCD can be counted toward satisfying your RMD for the year, up to $100,000. In addition, the QCD is excluded from your taxable income and lowers your adjusted gross income and income tax!

Gifts may be designated to church general operations to help fulfill our annual operating budget or to one of our current mission partnerships. A new option is to designate gifts to one of the recently established Legacy Funds: the General Legacy Fund (which provides the broadest impact for years to come) or one of several Designated Legacy Funds specific to various program areas in the church, such as Worship/Music, Christian Education, Missions, or Facilities. For more information, please call Betsy Galliher in the church office or email her at
Gifts to the Church

Memorials and honoraria are published in the newsletter only after the family has been personally notified by our business office. Today we gratefully acknowledge the following gift in memory of:
  • Warner Lee Collins (grandfather of Blake Collins): to the Memorial Fund from John & Karen Vann
Organist's Footnotes

Sandra Eithun, MMEd, is a graduate of Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, with an emphasis in the Kodály teaching method, keyboard, and flute. She is married, has four grown children, and lives in New London, Wisconsin, where she has been Director of Music Ministry at First Congregational United Church of Christ since 1992. There she directs three handbell choirs and serves as choral accompanist, organist, and keyboardist.

She is the director of the Silver Lake College Handbell Ensemble, is an active member of the Handbell Musicians of America, and has served on their Area VII Board of Directors. She has been commissioned to write music for many events and for numerous individual handbell ensembles. She has more than 300 pieces for handbells in publication as well as several sacred keyboard books and teaching collections for the incorporation of handbells in the music classroom.

Our handbell choir is playing two of her pieces, “Away in a Manger” (prelude) and “Angels We Have Heard on High” (postlude), from a collection titled Christmas Carols for Three to Six Ringers. Eithun explains: “As enjoyable as the month of December can be, it is not without a somewhat frenetic element, with schedules packed to the max, leaving scant time and personnel to adequately prepare music for performance in worship or concert settings. So, in an attempt to alleviate some of this stress, it has been my joy to assemble this book of instantly recognizable carol tunes in easy arrangements that utilize flexibility in the assignment of bells to ringers.” We are grateful for her thoughtful creativity!
Pray for One Another
We want to pray for and celebrate with you! Send your prayer requests and glad tidings to

In Our Prayers
Please also pray for the members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Anna Arbo & family
Wayne Ausmus
Mendy Bechtold
Bill & Betty Bingham
Bud & Marg Branscomb
Bristol Tennessee City Schools
Becky Busler
Ben Cherry & family
Ariel Damasceno
K.D. Forsha
Garrett Foster & family
Tammy Fredrickson
DeeDee Galliher
John Graham Sr.
Emma Grubbs & Gina Roberson
Lou Hebb
Eddie Hill
Porter Hillery
Davan & Kristi Johnson
Kaduna State
Jim & Joan Keith
Marty & Kara Keys
Morgan & Josh King & family
Nancy Lilly
Mary Jane Luffman
Diana Mattison
Dot Mattison
Roger McCracken
Kathy McGlothlin
Montana Indian Ministries
Abigail Myers
National & international leadership
Breanna Necessary
Palestine & Israel
Roger Patrick & family
Pastor Bruce Plummer
June Prado
Don Pridemore
Claire Pruner
Cora Lee Raccioppo
Bob Rhea
Michelle S.
Susan Solomon
Malcolm Sprinkle
Pete Stigers & family
Teachers & school administrators
Scott VanNostrand
Margaret Wade
Bill & Patsy Ward
Michael Weller
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701 Florida Avenue | Bristol, TN 37620 | 423-764-7176 |