PENNSYLVANIA SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE
OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Emanuel United Church of Christ
An Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ

2628 Fillmore Street, Philadelphia, PA  19137
"A Warm, Welcoming Church in the Heart of Bridesburg"
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Dear Friends -

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-5, 14-18


Light in Darkness, Word Become Flesh

This year, 2020, will go down as one of the saddest, most troubling, most tragic years in recent memory. It has been a season of death, death due to the pandemic, but also a season of death to many of the illusions of exceptionalism we may hold about our country and our way of life. We may feel that irresistible forces are pulling our lives, our country, our churches apart, and wonder if the center will hold. And yet we have the assurance: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not (and will not!) overcome it. And we have the even greater assurance that the Word became flesh – inhabited a body like ours – and lived right here with us, amid all the ugliness and pain that life throws at us.

The 3rd chapter of Luke’s gospel gives us a roster of “who’s who”, the movers and shakers of the day: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas……” Luke gives us all these names of the powerful: Tiberius, Pilate, Herod, Philip Trachonitis, Lysanias, Annas, Caiaphas. A few of them - Tiberius, Trachonitis, Lyasanias - we never hear of again. But of the ones who pop up later in Luke’s gospel, none of them are nice people. They were all, to a person, brutal, corrupt, and depraved, grinding those they governed into the dust. And yet, God’s salvation does not depend on them, nor can it be stopped by them – nor by the movers and shakers of our day - as Luke’s gospel goes on: "…..the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness." More than that, Jesus lived among us – amid the exploitation and grinding poverty of the day. Jesus, our Savior, intimately knows the pain of human life and death. And yet, having experienced pain and suffering, he brought us grace and truth.

God sent Jesus into the world because the world needed – and still needs – a savior. Jesus was born into a world that was seemingly spinning out of control, among people living in grinding poverty and desperate need. In this stranger-than-strange Advent and Christmas season, our own seemingly impossible circumstances strip us of our illusions of individual self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and throw us inexorably onto our desperate need for a Savior and the shared resources of the community of faith, not only in some ethereal world to come, but in our lives right here on earth in this very day and hour.


Blessings for Advent, Christmas, and the New Year – Pastor Dave

Pastor Dave





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