Pastor's Message: 

                                           The Three – “S’s”

My former barber {Yes, I once had need of a barbers services} a devout Roman Catholic, said to me one December day years ago: “Reverend, I know I shouldn’t say this, especially to you; but, I can’t wait for the holidays to be over and for things to get back to normal!”

Every year I hear a similar plea by those within and outside the church community.  I used to work every Christmas Eve {Ha, guess I still do} at John Wanamaker’s Department Store in the Berkshire Mall, while an undergraduate student here in Kutztown.  I recall that many {not all} of my customers during those days leading up to Christmas Eve were absolute, rude tyrants; demanding and unappreciative.  The experience some years was so depressing that even my churches candlelight service did little to re-ignite my Christmas joy.  There has got to be more faithful ways to welcome the birth of Jesus into our lives, families, community and world.  This Advent season, may I humbly suggest three themes to reclaim this joyous, holy season?  Keep it: Simple, Safe and Sincere!

SIMPLE:  The Magi shopped within their means. Sure, they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh but they could afford it; they were Kings!  Running up huge credit card debts to mimic their generosity is obscene, not to mention poor stewardship. Think first; pray about why you shop and for whom you shop.  Avoid impulse purchases.  There were only three packages to open that first Christmas.  The real gifts were wrapped in flesh and blood: the shepherds, the magi and of course, Baby Jesus.  Keep it simple!

SAFE:  Our pace this time of year quickens.  Rambling, “To Do” lists, compel us.  As I instructed my three former driver education students: Come to a complete stop; obey the speed limit; be courteous, other drivers don’t have ESP.  It’s a defensive game out there; gravity doesn’t care about you like I do; absolutely nothing, nothing is worth rushing for.  Slow down, keep it safe!

SINCERE: Every year our Junior Choir sang “The Friendly Beasts,” and every year I was the Donkey!  I was afraid of the neighborhood Santa who visited our home {though he did bring me Tinker Toys.}  I loved our outdoor Christmas lights but dreaded helping my Dad putting them up on the coldest day in December.

Holiday traditions are fine as long as they enhance, not inhibit, the good news: “Emmanuel – God is with us in the birth of the Christ Child.”

Make traditions which serve others: call a neighbor, reach out to those who’ve lost a loved one or who are going through some health concerns, visit ones in the hospital, nursing homes or who are home bound.  Offer to do errands for the elderly or watch the children of busy parents. Gather each Sunday morning here in worship to encounter God’s unconditional love, sincerely!


Pastor Sanders


People who worship at the United Church of Christ do not all think alike. We do not require our members to subscribe to certain creeds or dogmas.  We accept the historic creeds of the church, such as the Apostles' and Nicene, as representing the faith we share in common.


We also have a Statement of Faith, which is widely accepted, and which we think is one of the best modern interpretations of Christianity.


St. John's UCC is one of more than 200 churches in the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference supporting local congregations in their ministries.


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