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  • Writer's pictureBruce Ballantine

Newsletter November 2023 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ

First Press Newsletter Nov. 2023
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Dear Friends,

During this season of Thanksgiving, I have so many reasons to be thankful. And prominent on my list of things to be thankful for is you!

Just a few lines into his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul wrote: I thank my God every time I remember you …. (1:3) And I feel the same way. I am thankful for each of you, the members and friends of First Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood NJ.

Together we do our best to live out our mission statement: We are a welcoming community formed in Christ, committed to sharing his love with others – with feet that carry us out into the world, with hands that serve, and with hearts in fellowship and faith.

So often we think of those words of our mission statement in terms of how we bring them to life by serving the needs of people out there in the world. And that is as it should be. But as I write these words, I am also thinking of how we bring those words to life within our community of faith, and how we bring them to life by serving each other.

My father died on the night of Saturday, October 28, and I will miss him terribly. I am writing these words 24 hours later. This morning during worship, I shared the news of his passing with you. To say the words out loud was difficult, but I had to tell you in person that my dad had died.

Someone later said to me that it must have been difficult to lead worship so soon after losing my father. I admitted that it was difficult, and I had thought about staying home, but then added, “I realized that this is where I needed to be.”

Together, we are part of the family of God, and I needed to be among you, my sisters and brothers in Christ. I needed to share what I was feeling, needed to hear your words of comfort and encouragement, needed to be reminded that you too have experienced loss, and needed to know you are praying for me and my family just as I pray for you and yours, needed to receive your hugs, needed to receive your flowers.

In other words I needed to receive and be lifted up by your love.

Thank you for the many and various ways you expressed it.

Believe me when I say, “I thank my God every time I think of you.”

Grace and peace,


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