ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS -- The First Presbyterian Church will mark the Second Sunday of Advent with the Rev. Michael Riley preaching on "Joseph: Love is Thicker Than Blood."

The message reminding Christians of the faith and strength of the carpenter at the heart of the Christmas story will be presented during the 10 a.m worship service.

   Bob Kinley and Robert Becker will light the Advent candle, known a the Bethlehem Candle.

   The pastor's is also encouraging the children of the church to bring in items for his continuing "mystery bag" children's sermon series. During the children's sermon, youngsters try to "stump the pastor" by placing personal "treasures" in brown paper bags and challenging Riley to create a message from the contents of the bag.

   Sunday School, which is open to all area youngsters begins following the children's sermon.

   The adult choir, directed by David Nunez, will perform both an introit and an offertory anthem.

   The pastor's weekly Bible study, also open to the public, is held at 7:30 p.m. each Wednesday.

   The sanctuary, which is now fully decorated, is collecting donations for its "giving tree." Members and friends are invited to take requests from the tree and bring in the suggested presents and gift cards for needy families by Sunday, Dec. 16, the third Sunday of Advent.

   The church will conduct its regular Sunday service on Dec. 23 and the public is invited to the annual Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24, conducted by Pastor Riley and replete with traditional carols The church will also.

   In addition to being pastor, Riley is a columnist, staff writer and editorial writer at the Asbury Park Press. His column, the "Irreverent Reverend," appears on Fridays in The Press.

   The 122-year-old, handicapped accessible church at Third and E. Highland Aves. has extra parking available in a new municipal lot next to the Christian Education Building on East Highland Avenue.

   Child care for four-year-olds and younger continues to be provided during each worship service.