Today is Flag Day…and also my sister Judith K. Rush’s birthday.
Happy Birthday, Judie.
15th Anniversary of attacks on the World Trade Center complex.
This image is especially appropriate for this week. One World Trade Center in New York City mirrors blue skies and white clouds…harmony and peace. One World Trade Center represents the hope, determination, resilience, and strength of Americans in the face of adversity. With this new One World Trade Center as a reminder, we will never forget all those who lost their lives (firefighters, police, emergency workers, and citizens) in the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
See more Ground Zero photos on the Triumph Over Terror website by Ground Zero Chaplain and Janice Hall Heck.
At Margate Community Church in Margate, NJ, for the four weeks preceding Christmas, we unfold the drama of the birth of Christ as it happened over two thousand years ago.
This is the fourth week in Advent, and this morning we lit the fourth candle on the Advent Wreath representing LOVE. This candle is sometimes called the Angel’s Candle because the angels announce the birth of Jesus. The fifth candle in the middle of the wreath represents the birth of Jesus, and that will be lit at the Christmas Eve candlelight service.
Appearing on the Advent calendar this week: more animals in the manger scene, a peace dove, and Joseph standing by the manger. All is ready.
But the baby has not yet been born. The manger is still empty.
The major event is yet to come.
Advent Week 3. The third candle in the Advent Wreath represents JOY: The Joy that comes with knowing that God keeps His promises, and especially the promise recorded by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel–God with us. Matthew 1:23 (quoting Isaiah 7:14)
The shepherds were in the fields outside Bethlehem, watching over their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said:
Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy! The Savior has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David. And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth. Luke 2:10-12
A host of angels in the heavens sang this message of joy:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all… (Luke 2:14)
On the children’s advent calendar, the Three Wise Men and their entourage (represented by two camels) follow a bright star (upper left on the calendar) to find the baby Jesus.
Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9
We feel great joy as we celebrate the birth of Christ on that cold night in Bethlehem so many years ago. This joy comes with knowing that God keeps His promises.
Our choir sang of that JOY in a Christmas Cantata by John Purifoy during today’s morning service:
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Joy to the World
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Songs of the Angels
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
One year ago, I was in Bethlehem in Israel with six friends and Mike, our tour guide from Educational Opportunities.
This week, Mike is leading another tour group in Israel, and it is snowing. Look for pictures and a video at https://www.facebook.com/mike.eotours
Joy to the world. Peace on earth.
Over the years I have had many wonderful Christmases. But when I think of Christmases past, I think of one picture in my box of old, yellowed, crinkled family photographs, a picture that brings floods of sweet memories of Mom and Daddy and our family Christmas traditions.
Our Christmas ritual began with cutting our own tree. In the early years, on the day before Christmas, we trudged through the snow through our “back forty” over to a nice stand of evergreens just waiting for our annual visit. We took ever so much time going back and forth between the trees considering the merits of each one. The younger kids, Little Bobby, me, Charley, and Judie just ran around making noise and playing hide-n-seek (with maybe a snowball fight or two) while the bigger kids, Beverley, Bill, Shirley, and Adam did the actual tree hunt. Joyce and Joanne were already off working at their jobs, so they missed this fun.
There was one rule on these tree-hunting expeditions: no bickering. We could voice our opinion, but we couldn’t argue.
Even so, Mom always had the last word on the Christmas tree choice. She was very particular. She didn’t want any old scrawny tree. Her tree had to be just right, nice and plump and tall and rounded on each side, not too tall, and not too short. If a tree was lopsided, we didn’t cut it. If the spaces between the branches were too wide, we didn’t cut it. If the branches weren’t evenly distributed top to bottom, we didn’t cut it. This was not an easy job, but somehow we always managed the find just the right tree to make Mom happy.
Then when we found the perfect tree, the only one that would do, the older boys or Daddy cut it down. We dragged it through the snow back to the house. But Mom wasn’t ready for it to come in the house. First, the snow had to melt off the tree, and second, we had to clean the house to make it ready for the festivities to come.
Soon enough, we could decorate the tree with strings of colored lights and brightly colored glass ornaments. We placed those on the tree with great care, under Mom’s supervision, making sure that each section of the tree had the correct proportion of the various colors. Sometimes we strung popcorn or cranberries to drape on the tree.
Then the final step. Hanging the silver tinsel. And mind you, this had to be done to Mom’s specifications. We could not just throw the tinsel at the tree and hope for the best. (Only darling Little Bobby could get away with that!) No. If anyone did that, other than Little Bobby, they couldn’t help trim the tree. We had to hang each strand individually, with only a little overhang of one end of the tinsel, so that the other end could hang down long, all shimmery and delightful. And perfect.
When all was said and done, and the kids finally sent to bed, Mom and Daddy wrapped presents that had been hidden somewhere in the house, basement, or garage until the wee hours of the morning. They probably only got to bed a few hours before we littlest ones woke up eager to start the festivities. We stumbled down the stairs at dawn’s early light to get our first morning look at our beautiful tree and the mounds of presents under it. But we couldn’t open anything yet. That was the rule. We had to wait until Mom and Daddy came downstairs and got some coffee, and Mom had to put the giant turkey loaded with celery, onion, crusty bread, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme in the oven. Ummm, yum. The smells teased us for hours.
Then we could go at the presents, but only one at a time, mind you. That was the rule.
I remember I wished and wished and wished that I would get a doll for Christmas that year and maybe even a doll cradle or bed.
And look, I did get that doll (far right in picture) even a dollie bed. I was one happy little girl. All of us kids got things we treasured. (I remember us kids singing “A Frog Went A-Courting,” on and on, um-hmmm, accompanied by Bill’s new ukulele.)
My doll has long been forgotten, but the precious memories of my parents linger on. Christmas becomes a time of remembering the past with nostalgia and even a bit of sadness…missing our parents who loved us and cared for us, and who worked so hard to provide the shelter, clothing, and food we needed to grow up to be responsible, contributing adults. And now, along with our parents, we miss several siblings, Joyce, Joanne, and Little Bobby who have passed in the past few years. Big families bring great joy throughout our lives, but later in life, as family members pass away, our hearts fill with sadness. Our once big family is shrinking.
Now we siblings all have children and grandchildren of our own, but they are spread far and wide throughout the United States, so Christmas is a lonelier time, and we miss the closeness that shared family traditions bring. Even so, we think of each other and remember our wonderful Christmases past. There’s nothing better than our Christmas memories…except, that is, for making new ones.
Advent Week 2: Light the Peace Candle
This week at Margate Community Church, in preparation for our celebration of the birth of Christ, we decorated the church, and on Sunday morning the congregation and choir sang hymns and carols of praise. A harpist played familiar Christmas music and joined with the choir when they sang. Anticipating the birth of Christ brings hope (Advent, week 1). The second Advent candle adds light in the darkness, and we celebrate the peace that Jesus brings into our lives. (Jesus is the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6)
As part of each weekly Sunday service, Pastor Fleming has a children’s talk, and today he showed the children an Advent Calendar. While many Christmas calendars count down the days until Christmas and provide small treats for the children each day, the Christian Advent Calendar uses symbols to tell the story of the birth of Christ. Pastor Fleming opened the first eight pouches to help him tell the beginning of the Christmas story.
The first three symbols:
All three of these symbols are important in the Christmas story.
The shepherds, as the hymn tells us, watched their flocks at night, all seated on the ground. They did not have comfortable homes because they had to sleep out in the countryside where the best feeding grounds for the sheep were. They were often lonely, with other shepherds and their flocks their only companions. These shepherds were poorest of the poor and were looked down upon by society in general.
But the angels did not appear to the wealthy, happy, and socially prominent people, rather it was to these poor, ragged, and cold shepherds that the angels brought the good news, the announcement of the birth of Christ. In this way, God shows that he accepts everyone regardless of their economic or social status or their race.
Earlier, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, a woman betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David of the Old Testament, a king of Israel, and a writer of most of the Psalms. The angel told Mary,
Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. (Luke 1: 26-28, 31)
Another angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him,
Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name, Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
Next Sunday: Advent Wreath Candle 3 and Advent Calendar Pouches 9 through 15.
If you want to make your own Advent calendar, visit Tricia and read Advent Calendar: Teach The True Story of Christmas.
This is a bit of Saturday Silliness for Cat-Fur-Day and NoBloPoMo.
My husband laughs at me because I collect socks for every season. He calls me the “Sock Girl” because I have drawers of special season socks. That’s not a sock fetish, is it?
Right now, I have to switch from my Halloween socks…
to my Christmas socks… (Odd. I don’t have any Thanksgiving socks. I’ll have to fix that little problem!)
After Christmas comes…Valentine’s Day. (Wow, how many days can you wear Valentine’s Day socks?)
Next up…St. Patrick’s Day.
Then any day is “Crazy Sock Day”! (Fridays are good for these socks. Of course, it helps if you are retired! You can get away with all of this silliness.)
And somewhere I have red-white-and-blue socks for July 4th, although by that time of year, it’s time for bare feet or sandals.
The Last Meow
Hey, Missy Jan. Just wait one little minute. What about us? Haven’t you forgotten “Cat Sock” season?
Mark your calendar. Cat Sock season runs between Halloween and Christmas, between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, and between Easter and July 4th. You can have the summer days off, but be sure you restart Cat Sock season in September!
Meow for now. =<^;^>=
Found these amusing black cats on Internet this week. Enjoy! Happy Cat-o-ween!
And here are a few children’s books. . .
And here are those kindergarten teachers who love Pete the Cat!
The Last Meow
Snarl! Happy Halloween! Snarl! SSSST!
Meow for now. =<^;^>=
Late October, 2013.
News Flash. Unnaturals (Spooks? Zombies? Undead denizens? Dead Denizens? Residents of the Deep?) have found their way onto the Grounds for Sculpture in Trenton, New Jersey.
The NJ State Police have sent out detectives to ascertain their purpose for being in these local woods. Perhaps these undead are looking for Dan Shamble, that dead zombie private investigator who still works for his living by solving strange murder cases…including his own. Shamble was last seen in Kevin J. Anderson’s book, Death Warmed Over. Just ignore that bullet hole in his forehead. Anyway, you hardly notice it when he pulls his hat down.
Latest news: The Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has asked the NJ National Guard for military reinforcements to protect the citizens of this great state. In the meantime, he has made a newsworthy public announcement in which he emphatically stated, “Hey, You. Whatever you are. Get the hell out of New Jersey’s woods!”
Are you brave enough to go seek these unnaturals out? Look in the bamboo grove at the Grounds for Sculpture, but enter cautiously. These unnaturals reportedly have supersensitive hearing and can smell aliens (that’s us humans) a block away. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What? Are those horns on this unnatural? Is it … Satan… himself? In person?
Don’t miss this incredible landscape/sculpture park. It is beautiful, amusing, and surprising. You never know what you might find hiding in the woods or just standing out in plain sight.
I found a coven of witches there which I reported on here: Witches on the Prowl.
Here’s another (human) view of the Grounds for Sculpture…before the invasion of the unnaturals: Traveltimetalk.com, Grounds for Sculpture.
The Last Meow
Those unnaturals don’s scare me. Let me have a go at ’em. I can get rid of ’em faster than Chris Christie can say, “Meow.”
Meow for now. =<^;^>=