Hello, Bailey-

My brother John was a great brother, a fantastic uncle, and a wonderful human being. And he was my best friend.

He died suddenly in 2007—the worst day of my life. That was over 16 years ago. While I’m not as sad as I was, I still miss him, especially this month, with all those memories of Christmas time from years ago. And I'm sad that our sons barely got to know him.

One year he came to visit us in Pittsburgh, and he got off the plane carrying two big playground balls—one red and one yellow, our young sons’ favorite colors. He was creative, thoughtful, and kind. Below he is showing our boys around his office outside of Washington DC. The globe in the foreground is now in my office. 

In the midst of all this joy and festivity of this season, we all carry some grief and sadness. For those who lost a loved this past year, this December will be particularly challenging.

Please don’t ignore grief in yourself, and please be mindful of it in others. 

On Sunday at 2:00 pm, we have our annual Blue Christmas gathering—a time for music, prayer, and remembering, with fellowship to follow. Feel free to join us and invite a friend if you like. It's a time and space for the sadness, and to remember that we're never alone.

Each gospel describes the birth of Jesus differently. In the poetic language of John’s gospel, we read that the light shines in the darkness—which offers the vital reminder that the darkness is real.

In the beginning was the Word

    and the Word was with God

    and the Word was God.

The Word was with God in the beginning.

Everything came into being through the Word,

    and without the Word

    nothing came into being.

What came into being

    through the Word was life,

    and the life was the light for all people.

The light shines in the darkness,

    and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

-John 1:1-5(CEB)

So we light our candles, sing our songs, exchange our gifts, wear our ugly Christmas sweaters (!), watch the Grinch one more time.... and wesupport each other, acknowledging our shared sadness and celebrating the joy of Christmas at the same time. God is with us. 

On the journey together,


PS - Please pray for Guatemala, when tension mounts as they approach the January 14 inauguration of their new president. Last Sunday in the sermon, I invited us to pray for Guatemala, and I mentioned a recent communication from Rev. Betsey Moe, a Presbyterian pastor who works in Guatemala and who was at Covenant this past summer. Click on the photo to read it. 


  • In-Person and Livestream worship - 9:00AM & 11:00AM
  • Second Sunday of Advent | "The Way of Peace"
  • Lighting of the Advent Candles
  • Preaching: Charlie Berthoud | "Smooth and Straight" | Text: Mark 1:1-8
  • Music: Doug McNeel, organist; Covenant Chancel Choir & Handbell Choir, Melissa Hinz directing
  • Children's Time with Marge Resan
  • Nursery Care: 8:45AM-12:15PM
  • Kaleidoscope Kids: during 9am worship
  • Bradfield Café: 10:00-10:45AM
  • Visit our Worship HQ for everything you need to worship with us online!

If you missed a service or would like to watch a service again, all livestreamed services are saved to our YouTube channel. Or you can give the sermons another listen on our sermon podcast!

Children's & Youth Education

Kaleidoscope Kids

During 9AM worship

Sunday School & Children's Choir

Sunday 10:00-10:50AM

(click image for holiday schedule)

Confirmation (Grades 9-10)

Sunday 10:00AM

Youth Connection

Sunday 6:00-7:30PM

Adult Education

Join us Sunday at 10:00am for the last class of 2023, “Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts,” led by Covenant member Jane Kolakowski. Each of us has been given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit. These gifts allow us to serve God's kingdom in accordance with God’s will. We will explore possible gifts and take an individual assessment to assist in identifying our own gifts. During this gift-giving season, let's discover and celebrate what God has already given us as individuals.

All classes meet in person and online at youtube.com/c/CovenantPresbyterianChurch.

Visit covenantmadison.org/adult for more info on Adult Education at Covenant.

All women are invited to Soul Sisters on Sunday in room A111. Please bring a lunch to eat, then we will discuss "Favorite Christmas Traditions or Objects." Soul Sisters meets on the 2nd Sunday monthly for fellowship, interesting discussions, and Bible study, always in loving support of each other. For more info or to join Soul Sisters, contact Barb Eikenberry.

If, for whatever reason, the holidays are difficult for you this year, you are encouraged to come to a special worship service, when we acknowledge the pain in our lives and give thanks for the support we have from each other and in Jesus Christ. Light refreshments will follow. All are welcome!

Thank you to those who donated and participated in the auction last Sunday! You should have received a call on Monday if you had winning bids. Items can be picked up and paid for by cash, check or credit card in room C206 on Sunday from 9:45-11:30am. (If you were bidder #84, we don’t have your name, but you were the winning bidder on several items.) Also, come see items still available to purchase in the gathering space! Lastly, donations can be made to the Guatemala Scholarship Fund at any time (and are greatly appreciated) by clicking below.

Donate Here

Big thanks to all the helpers for the Guatemala Auction and the Advent Event. To see more pix, click on the photo above.

MACH Concerts

Join Madison Area Concert Handbells this weekend!

Fri, Dec 8 at 7pm at Good Shepherd West

Sat, Dec 9 at 7pm at Christ Presbyterian Church

Sun, Dec 10 at 3pm at First Congregational Church

Melissa & Greg Hinz, and Kris Lee are a part of this handbell choir! Purchase at madisonhandbells.org ahead of time with discount code MACHFRIEND20.

Generosity Update

Week of


Amount pledged

# pledges










2023 budget



We are hoping to get at least 213 pledges for 2024, so we have a way to go! Please return commitment cards as soon as you can or fill out forms online. Also, please fill out a serving survey to let us know what ministries you are interested in serving with. See how we were blessed from your generosity in 2023!

Note: if you check the “Please arrange payments for me” box on your commitment card/form, please remember to submit an ECT form as well.

We are receiving donations of any amount for The Road Home’s Holiday Sponsorship Program that gives to families in need during the holiday season. DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 13! Cash or check donations can be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church (with "Road Home" on memo line) and can be put in the offering lectern or dropped off. Questions? Contact Nan Schaefer by email or at (608) 772-3399.

New this week: John Wedberg, Covenant member; The family of Cathy Karcher, friends of Ann Larget; Sharon and Vicki, friends of Rhonda Rohn; Beverly Leitner, sister of Cheryl Krebs; Andrew Holmes, grandson of Cheryl Krebs; Scott Johnson, brother of Linda Daly; Joni Jaeger and family.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayers for each of these your children. We pray for healing, for courage, and for peace, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

(Click on the image header for full prayer list on Worship HQ.)

Bring your donations of hat and mittens, but also snow pants, winter jackets, and snow boots! Youth Connection collect your donations every year and bring them to The River Food Pantry. Thank you for supporting this cause!

To place an order, contact the church office and let us know: 1) how many you would like, and 2) how to list on the prayer list (in memory/honor/celebration of…). Poinsettias are $15 for 1 and $25 for 2. Checks can be made out to Covenant Presbyterian Church. Please place orders by Monday, December 18!

In January, we will begin a new devotional on the book of Exodus. You may now SUBSCRIBE to receive daily email devotions from this devotional, beginning January 1 and through January. There will also be hard copies of this devotional available later in December.

Subscribe Now

click on image for our Christmas/Advent postcard with key dates on the forefront!

Bradfield Café Volunteer:

Click HERE to sign up!

Greeter & Welcome Center Volunteer:

Click HERE to sign up!

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