Pittsburgh Girls Choir Concert

Holiday Concert

Ceremony of Carols

The Pittsburgh Girls Choir (PGC) presents its holiday concert, sung by all five ensembles. The concert opens with the PGC’s premier ensemble, the Chamber Choir, performing Chiara Margarita Cozzolani’s “Ave Regina Caelorum” (1642) and Rebecca Clarke’s “Ave Maria” (1937). The PGC training choirs will then delight the audience with their pure young voices as they welcome in the holidays with “Cornish Wassail.” The concert’s featured work, Britten’s Ceremony of Carols (1942), has become a PGC favorite for our audiences and singers alike. Other highlights include all five choirs singing the moving “Chanukah Prayer for Children” (Ryan Brechmacher) and joyous “Ding Dong Merrily on High” (Stephen Mager).

Tickets are available online here and at the door.

Caroling at Allegheny County Jail

Carolers for HOPE at the Allegheny County Jail
Carolers for HOPE at the Allegheny County Jail

Get an early start on polishing your finest Christmas carols and share community with those who will spend Christmas in jail. Come and participate in caroling at the Allegheny County Jail on Friday, December 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with Shadyside Presbyterian and other local churches. All participants must be 21 or older. If you are interested, please sign up in the Sharp Atrium or contact Rev. Todd Leach through the church office by Monday, December 3. (The name on the registration list must match the name on driver’s license or ID.)

Advent Vespers

Artwork: Detail of Flight into Egypt © 2018 John August Swanson | EyekonsTell Us of the Night
Rev. Dr. Angela Dienhart Hancock
Rev. Dr. Angela D. Hancock

During the season of Advent, Shadyside Presbyterian Church invites you to join us on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. for an evening of music and reflection in our Sanctuary. These 45-minute candlelight Communion services include a homilies from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary professors, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and music offered by the Shadyside Strings, Chatham Baroque, and the Pittsburgh Girls Choir. Childcare is available.

On Wednesday, December 5, we welcome the Reverend Dr. Angela Dienhart Hancock as our guest preacher.  Rev. Dr. Hancock is the Associate Professor for Homiletics and Worship at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  She will deliver a homily titled, “Break-in,” based on the Scripture passage of Matthew 24:42-44.

Learn more about Rev. Dr. Hancock or view a short video featuring her work at the seminary.

Artwork: Detail of Flight into Egypt © 2018 John August Swanson | Eyekons

Advent Reflection: Dec. 25, 2017

Seasonal Devotions

Scripture: John 1:1–5  (Today’s Readings)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  (John 1:1-5)

In the dramatic opening of his gospel, John the apostle boldly declares the identity of Jesus. Jesus is the incarnation of Almighty God. He is both fully human and fully divine. He is God. In Him exists creation, redemption, and salvation.

Jesus Christ is the light of life and salvation, yet He came to us as a humble Child, born in a stable. Despite the truth He shared and the healing He brought, we often deny Him, His Word, and our desperate need of salvation which only He can provide.

Yet, He loves us still.

The darkness of the world and the darkness of our own sin have not diminished the radiance of our Lord. His light shines in our darkest hours, illuminating His love, His mercy, and His invitation to us to come and live in His light.

What do you face this glorious Christmas Day? Amidst the celebrations of this day, are you facing illness or the loss of a loved one? Do you face joblessness or financial stress or severe marital discord? Whatever you face today, celebrate the brilliant light shining in our darkness: the light of our Lord, Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem!

Merry Christmas!

The Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps and Mrs. Lauren Ford Sharps

Read more Advent Reflections on the blog of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church website.

Download the full booklet of Advent Reflections.

Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols at Shadyside Presbyterian ChurchA series of Scripture readings, carols, and hymns concludes with a ceremony of lights in this beloved service, which is based on the tradition that began at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1918. The Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps will preach. The service will be preceded by an extended choral and string prelude beginning at 8:40 p.m.

Advent Reflection: Dec. 24, 2017

Seasonal Devotions

Scripture: Isaiah 60:1–6  (Today’s Readings)

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.  (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Light is essential to biological life; light in life indicates vitality and prosperity. Light is essential to vision. In Genesis, God summons light — its creation is a direct result of God’s command. It is with light that the first day of creation is born. This occurs in the second sentence of the Bible.

One of the most dramatic passages in choral music occurs about eight minutes into the beginning of Franz Joseph Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation. The orchestra begins with an extended, wandering prelude depicting the earth without form and void. The narrator enters, still very quietly, with the opening words of Genesis. On the word “light,” the full orchestra and choir burst forth with a subito fortissimo. The oratorio moves swiftly from this defining moment.

What a marvelous image we have to usher in our journey through the Bible and our ongoing image of the Divine: Jesus, the Light of the World. “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Echoing Isaiah, Matthew says of the arrival of Jesus, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” The Psalmist speaks of the Lord being the “Light of My Salvation” T. S. Elliot has a stunning poem in his pageant play, The Rock: “O Light Invisible, We Praise Thee.” The poem/prayer is a meditation in and of itself.

In these days of winter, when darkness increasingly covers the earth, we all crave the coveted hours of daylight. We light lanterns and tapers; we cover our Christmas trees and cottages with colorful coruscations; we escape to places where we can soak in sunshine. We yearn for spring, when each day unfolds with more brilliance than the one before. With this escalation of effulgence we associate budding flowers and trees — the reassurance of renewed life.

Not only do we long for more light, we long for the warmth associated with its luminosity. And so it is with God’s presence in our lives. We have an inborn need for the radiance and warmth emanating from the Light of the World. What are the sources of light in your own world which illuminate the love and grace of the Divine?

Prayer: Dear God, we want to see your brightness. Clear sun of righteousness, shine on our path and show us the way to the Father. In you, O God, there is no darkness at all; the night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in our hearts, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Contributed by Mark A. Anderson

Read more Advent Reflections on the blog of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church website.

Download the full booklet of Advent Reflections.

Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”

Advent Reflection: Dec. 23, 2017

Seasonal Devotions

Scripture: Luke 1:67–80  (Today’s Readings)

The journey leading to Christmas is filled with periods of waiting, and, in this passage, we find ourselves at the end of one such period and in the middle of another.

After not believing God’s promise, Zechariah waits mutely for months until the promise is fulfilled in the form of a son. Zechariah breaks his silence, praising God for His mercy and promises of the past, and prophesying about God’s future gift of Jesus, for whom his son John will prepare the way. This marks the beginning of the end of a wait that began ages ago.

God shows us mercy and keeps His promises even when we don’t believe that He will. As we await the coming of Christ, may we look both to the past and to the future, rejoicing in the blessings we have received and trusting that God will be with us.

Prayer: Loving God, thank You for showing us Your mercy and shining Your light upon us, even when we fail to believe in Your promises. Guide us as we walk through this Advent season so that we may grow to be strong in spirit.  Amen.

Contributed by Emma R. Balaan, Deacon

Read more Advent Reflections on the blog of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church website.

Download the full booklet of Advent Reflections.

Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”

Advent Reflection: Dec. 22, 2017

Seasonal Devotions

Scripture: Luke 1:57–66  (Today’s Readings)

This Advent season looks a bit different in our family as we eagerly anticipate the birth of our third child, a son, this coming February. There is a lot to consider with the decision of what to name a child. In our case, our daughters both have rather traditional names that came from within our extended family. When choosing our son’s name, we have kept that in mind and are looking over our male relative’s names and deciding what will be the best fit. It is not an easy decision, and it is one the child will live with for the rest of his life!

In our Scripture passage, Zechariah and Elizabeth were in a similar scenario with their firstborn son. In Jewish tradition for that time, the baby would not be named until the eighth day upon his circumcision ceremony, and it was expected that a firstborn male would be named after his father. In an earlier passage, we learned that Zechariah had been visited by an angel proclaiming that he would be a father and the son would be named John. At the time, Zechariah doubted God’s gift to his family and was, as such, afflicted with dumbness. When it came time to name the child, the gathered priests and family assumed the baby would be named Zechariah, and were shocked when Elizabeth spoke out and said he was to be named John. This simply was not done in their culture, and when they turned to Zechariah for confirmation he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately, God rewarded Zechariah for his faithfulness by restoring his speech, and he began shouting praises for God.

This laid the foundation for John the Baptist to become an outspoken preacher and right-hand man of Jesus. In the end, a name is just a name. It is a collection of letters strung together to identify a person. In this instance, John’s name was so much more, because it represented the faith of his parents in God’s will. It broke cultural norms and set John apart to be a chosen follower of Christ and leader of the early Christian Church.

Prayer: Lord, we are in awe of You and of the many miracles of this season. We ask that You would walk alongside us during our waiting, and that we would have the faith of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, and give us voices to always shout Your praise.  Amen.

Contributed by Kathryn F. S. Geary

Read more Advent Reflections on the blog of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church website.

Download the full booklet of Advent Reflections.

Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”

Advent Reflection: Dec. 21, 2017

Seasonal Devotions

Scripture: Luke 1:39–48a  (Today’s Readings)

Oh, my soul leaps with inexpressible joy.
Like a mother holding a newborn.
With great expectation, I wait for You.
You knew me before creation.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I believe, but cannot see.
Your promises are true.
You have chosen me.
A humble servant.

Prayer: Father God, with joy we praise You, for You have come to be with us, and You have called us as Your own. Guide us now, that we may love and serve You with all of our lives.  Amen.

Contributed by Charie E. Daviston, Deacon

Read more Advent Reflections on the blog of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church website.

Download the full booklet of Advent Reflections.

Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”

Advent Vespers

Artwork: No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1 ”O that You would tear open the heavens and come down ... .“

Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.

During the season of Advent, Shadyside Presbyterian Church invites you to join us on Wednesdays  for an evening of music and reflection in our Sanctuary. These 45-minute candlelight Communion services include a homily, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and music offered by the Shadyside Strings,  Chatham Baroque, and the Pittsburgh Girls Choir. Childcare is available.

Artwork: No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”