Rev. William Stell
William Stell graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in May 2016 and began serving as our pastor two months later. Before studying at Princeton, he lived and worked in the country of Jordan at a school for Deaf and Deaf-Blind children. Although his familial roots are Presbyterian, William was raised in a black Baptist church, and he has spent significant time in Methodist, Catholic, non-denominational, and other church traditions. We are grateful for the enthusiastic spirit and visionary leadership that he brings to our congregation!
Click on this link to read the article published in the September 2017 publication of the Bordentown Current
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.
We’re told that it’s a merry time. We’re told—on television, in store windows, at church services, and by people around us—that the Christmas season is to be joyful, that we are to be joyful. But what if joy feels far away? What if pain, loss, and sadness feel much closer? What if, despite all of the pressures to be happy (or at least to look it), we can barely muster a smile, and even saying the words “Merry Christmas” feels disingenuous?
Perhaps this will be your first holiday season without a certain loved one in your life. Perhaps tragedy has struck your home in the recent past. Perhaps, for whatever reasons, the will to celebrate just isn’t there this year.
Here is, I hope, some good news for you: Christmas happens whether or not you are merry. That Bethlehem night, when God came to be with us in Jesus, didn’t depend on you or your emotions. No matter what anyone else says, God doesn’t need you to look happy. On the contrary, through Psalms like the one above, God gives us permission to be sad.
Even in our saddest seasons, joy will break through in moments here and there. Be open to noticing and receiving them. That said, you don’t need to manufacture those moments (not for God’s sake, at least). If your soul, like the psalmist’s, refuses to be comforted, the God of love is still with you, as surely as God was with Mary on that night in Bethlehem.
I doubt that Mary felt all that happy when she was giving birth to her firstborn in a stranger’s stable. Though she was witnessing the Light coming into the world, she remained deeply anxious and in pain. You can remain that way, too. In time, the Light will break through.
© 2016 First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church of Bordentown
420 Farnsworth Ave.
Bordentown, NJ 08505