Monthly Archives: December, 2016

Christmas Eve, 2016

Please enjoy this excellent Blog from my Pastor, Rev. Janice West.


Christmas Eve – 4:00 p.m.

Christmas came early for me tonight. Those who serve the church know that “that moment of Christmas” comes when it wants to – sometimes as we see the church filling up, or when we hear the familiar words of the timeless story. Maybe “Christmas happens” when we see the congregation standing and singing with their candles lit, or when we try to sing Silent Night, choking back the tears. Sometimes it waits until we are home after it all. . .in the peace and quiet of our homes and hearths.

Christmas came as I was driving to the church tonight.

I was reflecting on my year – and what a remarkable year it has been. I spent part of April in the Holy Land – the Mosaic of Peace conference. I have been there. No, not like some “check-off” on a…

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Christmas Gifts

The Christmas Season is my favorite time of year.  It has been so since I was a child.  I recall Christmases in Chicago where we had a massive Christmas Tree and many presents.  Mom and Dad were still together…and all seemed right with the world.  There was Laughing Santa!

Then, there was Christmas when it was just Mom and me in Eldorado, Illinois.  Money was short and wishes were long.  One or two small gifts were all that were available carefully placed under an aluminum christmas tree.  Yes, aluminum christmas trees were popular in the 60’s.

Christmas in Elkville, Illinois with my sweet wife Mary Jane and our wonderful sons; Aaron and Jonathon…both small and full of holiday wonder.  It was tremendous!

Christmas, now, in Carbondale still presents Aaron and Jonathon full of holiday delight and their Dad full of wonder and Mom full of Holiday surprises.  Now I ponder the precious gift of life and love and family and friends.

I visited a friend of mine yesterday…that I have know for over forty-five years.  What a delightful person…and I was transported back to our younger days.  I remember this great lady’s kindness to me…inviting me to supper with her and her sons…when she really did not have enough for them.

Who do you know who needs a little encouragement?  Who do you know who is down their luck…or that is lonely…or is battling illness…or who has lost a loved one?

In the famous short story by O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi, originally published December 10, 1905, we read of Mr. James Gillingham Young and his wife Della.

Jim and Della, ‘have only two possessions between them in which they take pride.  Della’s beautiful long, flowing hair, almost touching to her knees, and Jim’s shiny gold watch, which had belonged to his father and grandfather.  On Christmas Eve, with only $1.87 in hand, and desperate to find a gift for Jim, Della sells her hair for $20.00 to a nearby hairdresser named Madame Sofronie, and eventually finds a platinum pocket watch fob chain for Jim’s watch for $21.00.  Satisfied with the perfect gift for Jim, Della runs home and begins to prepare pork chops for dinner.  At 7:00 o’clock, Della sits at a table near the door, waiting for Jim to come home.  Jim comes home and immediately stops short at the sight of Della, who had previously prayed that she was still pretty to Jim.  Della then admits to Jim that she sold her hair to buy him his present.  Jim then gives Della her present — an assortment of expensive hair accessories (referred to as ‘The Combs’), useless now that her hair is short.  Della then shows Jim the chain she bought for him, to which Jim says that he sold the watch to buy her combs.  Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither one can use, they realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how precious their love is,’ according to Wikipedia.






I care about Americans

Please enjoy this thought provoking Blog from Deborah.


‘Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.  Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with ears of another and feeling with the heart of another,’ according to Wikipedia.

The New York Times reports today that, ‘Jolted into action by a wave of hate crimes that followed the election victory of Donald J. Trump, American Muslims and Jews are banding together in a surprising new alliance.  They are putting aside for now their divisions over Israel to join forces to resist whatever may come next.  New groups are forming, and interfaith coalitions that already existed say interest is increasing.’

African American CNN Commentator Van Jones is beginning a new expose, entitled The Messy Truth, regarding his visits and interviews with white blue collar middle class Americans as to why they voted for President Elect Trump.  At one point, in the Show’s preview tonight while interviewing a white middle class family who had previously voted Democratic, the man being interviewed noted that he and other Democrats had placed many Democratic candidates for President… in the Presidency…and that candidate Clinton did not even mention them.  Mr. Jones noted that he looked at his cameramen…and they were ‘teared up.’

I have been asked, more than once, since the Presidential Election, what I thought about it.  My response is that everything that I have written regarding hateful and divisive words that were uttered, on a regular basis during the Presidential Campaign, I stand behind…and indeed would not withdraw a single word that I have written.

‘Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone,’ as posted by Spirit Science.

One of the first lessons that I learned when I became a manager of a large custodial department was that suddenly my words, even casual ones, mattered.  Having worked for managers and administrators who were quick to speak hurtful words…I have personally experienced the disruption…worry…and agony of being both fearful of the machiavellian manager…but also a witness to others in the organization being emboldened by the leaders rhetoric and subsequently treating those who were different from them in an abusive manner.

Victory in a Presidential Election is only the first step in governing our country.

President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, said during his second inaugural address…just days prior to the end of the Civil War…’With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work that we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have born the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.’