ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Rev. Barbara A. Macfie will preach on “The Liberating Gift of Christmas -- Jesus Christ" during the 10 a.m. worship service this Sunday -- New Year's Day -- at the First Presbyterian Church.

   She will also administer Holy Communion.

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Rev. Barbara A. Macfie

   Macfie's sermon is based on the Gospel reading in Luke for the first Sunday after Christmas. It is the story of Mary and Joseph taking the infant Jesus to the temple and it elegantly proclaims that God's salvation, which comes through this tiny Jewish baby, is for all human beings.

   The church's pastor, the Rev. Michael Riley, will act as liturgist and will continue his "mystery bag" children's sermon series where youngsters try to "stump the pastor" by placing a personal "treasure" in a brown paper bag. He then picks a bag and creates a children's message from its contents.

   The adult choir will also sing this Sunday. It rehearses at 7:30 p.m on Thursdays and welcomes new members.

   Sunday School, which is open to all area children, will resume next Sunday.

   The pastor will be back in the pulpit next week, Jan. 8.

   Macfie has been an ordained Presbyterian minister for 12 years and is a counselor who concentrates on her private practice at Phoenix Counseling Center, Metuchen.

   Riley is an author and Asbury Park Press columnist, as well as the leader of the 121-year-old handicapped accessible church at Third and E. Highland Aves. His column, "Only Human," appears in The Press Fridays.

   Child care for youngsters four and under is provided during all Sunday worship services.