CHURCH BRIEFS

Special to The Chronicle-Express

First Presbyterian 

Christians around the world have now celebrated the fourth Sunday of Advent, highlighting God’s love for man and God’s desire for peace on earth. With the lighting of the final purple Advent candle, Christians signify the impending arrival of the “Son of God.” This candle is often called the Angel’s candle, symbolizing peace. As the angels praised God and declared in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” In the Old Testament Isaiah referred to Jesus by several names the last being “Prince of Peace.” The various names used to refer to Jesus in the Bible reflect what he had been called upon by God to do on this earth.   

Pastor Paul’s sermon on this last Advent Sunday before Christmas was titled, “Song of Hope.”

There is a short hymn also entitled the “Song of Hope,” written in 1984 by a former PC (USA) South American Presbyterian missionary, Alvin L. Schutmaat, who at that time lived in Argentina. The main verse reads: “May the God of Hope go with us every day, filling all our lives with love and joy and peace. May the God of justice speed us on our way, bringing light and hope to every land and race.” This encapsulates the meaning of Advent using the four themes, all which are taken from references in Scripture. As we approach Christmas be reminded that Hope, Peace, Joy and Love should always guide our daily lives.

Pastor Paul regularly emphasizes and practices these traits in his ministry, throughout the year. It is with great sadness that FPC’s entire congregation wishes to extend heartfelt sympathy to Pastor Paul and his wife Linda, in the passing of his mother, Marilyn. Their devotion to her care, over several years, exemplifies their commitment to family and faith.

The final white candle, the Christ candle at the center of the wreath, will be lighted on Christmas Eve. FPC will have an in-person Candlelight service Dec. 24, at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Protocols of masking and social distancing will be observed.  God has shown his faithfulness and love for us by keeping his promise with the arrival of Jesus, originally to be named as Immanuel, translated to mean, “God with us” which is exactly who He is. FPC wishes you all a blessed Christmas.

Penn Yan First Baptist

Please receive our heartfelt invitation to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 p.m. Rev. Don Lawrence will lead the service. His message is titled, "The Peace of Christmas," Please join us; invite your family, friends, maybe your co-workers. The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to share Jesus with those who may have questions about a relationship with Jesus Christ. On Dec. 26, we will welcome Rev. John Tharp as he shares his message of "Go, Tell the Story." Welcome to First Baptist Church of Penn Yan. 

Branchport Methodist 

The season of Advent is coming to a close as we anxiously await the birth of Christ.  As you read this, Christmas is only a couple of days away.  We have lit the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love on our Advent wreath and will light the Christ candle on Christmas Eve.

If you look closely, you will see that the Grinch has found us, but has not stolen our Christmas tree here at Branchport Methodist Church!

We will have our candlelight Christmas Eve service in the sanctuary this year, but ask that everyone wear a mask in light of the increase in Covid cases at this time. It is our desire to keep everyone safe and healthy. You may also join us via Zoom. Visit our website, branchportumc.org, for information on logging in to Zoom. The service will be at 7:15 pm on Dec. 24.

Our book study on "The Heart That Grew Three Sizes" has been a chance to discuss how we can find faith in the story of the Grinch. The busyness of the season and the secular hoopla can often overshadow the true meaning of Christmas. May this Christmas be about Christ.

St. Mark's Episcopal

In the Episcopal Church, the many weeks after Pentecost are sometimes referred to as the long green season, because the liturgical color for vestments and altar hangings is green, symbolizing growth for nature and for the Church. We have now reached the end of that season, and entered the season of Advent.

While many churches use purple for Advent to emphasize its penitential theme, St. Mark’s uses a pale blue to underscore its theme of hopeful expectation. Blue is connected with Advent because it is also the color associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Advent is her — and our — season of joyful expectation. 

At St. Mark’s, we have an Advent wreath, with four blue candles, and one white in the center. On the first Sunday in Advent, we lit one candle, and for each Sunday thereafter, we will light another candle, until  the fourth Sunday, when all four blue candles will be lit. The fifth candle, the white one in the center, is called the Christ Candle, and will be lit on Christmas Eve and again for each service throughout the 12 days of the Christmas season.

And St. Mark’s is planning a joyful Christmas Eve service, with Eucharist, well-loved readings, and a children’s procession to the crèche. We will start at 4 p.m. and all are welcome to join us!

Milo Center Methodist

Our service this week was via Zoom only as our church was without power. The message Pastor Kim shared was as powerful as if in person. She talked about who God's word can speak through. Yes, who! It doesn't have to be the most impressive, rich or popular person. Think of Mary, Joseph, Abraham, Elizabeth and so many others that were ordinary, hardworking earthly people, even the Grinch himself. As we are working through Advent with the story of "The heart that grew three sizes" we are reminded that the Grinch also was a vessel for God in his own way. Not always showing a soft side, but he did show compassion to Cindy Lou when he was rotten to others that crossed his path. That compassion soon multiplied and spread through the Grinch, causing his heart to grow three sizes. The MCUMC family send blessings to all and to all a good night. Merry Christmas!

Our Milo Center United Methodist Church young people worked hard to prepare goody bags for over 75 families this holiday season

December birthday wishes to Cookie Brooks, Ryan Kennedy, Stephen Henderson, Mary Lou Hessney, Joe Henderson and Kirk Brooks. Congratulations to Heather Andersen and John Foster on their engagement to be married. Thank you to Pastor Kim Lyons, Erica Little, and Susan Andersen for supplying our December mission to The Living Well lunches.

Christmas Eve service will be at 5:30; all are welcome in person masked or via Zoom. Contact Pastor Kim for details at kjolyons@yahoo.com

Bluff Point Methodist

Zoom or in person, Bluff Point United Methodist Church is where it’s at!

Here for the holidays! Welcome to Bluff Point United Methodist Church, both Zoom or in-person.  We will be having some additional services, some in-person, some Zoom, and some both! 

Christmas Eve service at church will be at 7 p.m. There will be no church service Dec. 26. There will be a zoom New Year’s Eve service.  On Dec. 21, St. Paul’s in Penn Yan will have a longest night service at 6:30 p.m. 

Pastor Sandi’s recent message was from the Innkeeper's Son.  He took over the responsibilities of the inn from his father at age 14. The internet video she used showed us to look at the positive. Jesus may have been born in a manger, but the innkeeper made room for Mary and Joseph. 

Pastor Sandi also spoke about symbols. What does a cross say to people? Does it stop the conversation? People may have expectations or hold you to a different standard. Pastor Sandi asked us what we would bring as a symbol to show and tell.  Some people said a Shepherd’s hook; others said a ring, a Bible, a hymnal or yourself.  The innkeeper would have brought the faith that came with him.

Coming home to Christmas. We bring peace, hope and joy.  On our way home we can see the destination. 

Dresden Methodist

Christmas Eve service at Dresden Methodist will be held at 9 p.m. and will be a candlelight and carols service; we invite you to join us.

This week is the third week of advent, the week of joy! Pastor Rachel Patchen talked about the difference between happiness and joy. While happiness is a good thing, it is temporary and fleeting. Happiness comes from something like a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning or seeing your kids excel in school. Joy is different. Joy is everlasting and does not quickly fade. Joy comes from things like looking into your children's faces as they take their first breath or the support you receive from a community in your most challenging moments. Joy is also what we Christians feel when we think about God's sacrifice through Jesus. God loved us so much that he sent his Son, the incarnate God, to be born as a baby so he could one day grow up to teach us, reconcile us to God, and save us. This is the greatest Christmas gift ever, and it comes in a baby-sized package! 

This coming Sunday, Dec. 19, we hope you will join us at 9:30 a.m. as we celebrate love in the fourth week of advent! Pastor Rachel will be reading "Llama, Llama, Holiday Drama" for the kids, and there will be a special gift of music from the choir; we'll save you a seat! [EXCLUDE FROM PRINT]

Announcements: We are still taking donations of hats, scarves, and mittens for the Living Well. Christmas Eve service will be held at 9 p.m. and will be a candlelight and carols service; we invite you to join us as we celebrate the coming of Jesus!