Community Voices

Holiday smiles are contagious and can cheer you throughout the season

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

As the holidays approach, I’d like to wish my Christian friends a very merry and blessed Christmas, and my Jewish friends a very warm and happy Hanukkah.

I’m glad we are in the holiday season, because for a few short days, we can put aside our differences and disagreements and bask in the friendliness of the present, passing on goodwill to everyone we meet. This is a good thing.

I, for one, am so tired of the hateful atmosphere that often surrounds us. I welcome such a time as this, when mere strangers will walk up to you and say, “Merry Christmas!” or give you a wide and friendly smile. Whenever that happens to me, on the street or in the supermarket, or wherever I might be, I find myself walking around with a smile that doesn’t want to fade away. Such a good feeling, and it’s catching — people generally smile back at you.

Last Sunday, the Bible classes at The Church of God Tabernacle in Liberty City had their annual Christmas pageant. The children were so caught up in their performances and singing the wonderful songs, that at one time it seemed as though the entire church was bursting at the seams with joyful sounds. I looked at the young faces of the children singing the ageless Christmas songs and their joy was unmistakable. I wanted to find a way to bottle up the feeling and spread it throughout the new year.

LIVING NATIVITY

Speaking of good cheer, South Miami Lutheran Church invites the community to its 45th annual living nativity from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday on the front lawn of the church, 7190 Sunset Dr.

The living nativity will feature members of South Miami Lutheran and Cultivate Church Miami dressed as Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men.

It’s free.

CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES

The members of Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ invite the community to celebrate Christmas Eve with them in one or all four services, to starting at 3 p.m. with a German-language service.

At 5:30 p.m., there will be a “wiggle-welcome family service,” which will explore the joy of Christmas through the eyes and voices of children, who’ll present “Sing With Us: The Christmas Story” told through the most beloved carols. The service will be followed by a live nativity in the church’s courtyard.

Traditional candlelight services will be at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., and will feature choirs of voices and bells, organ, brass and words of the season. After the 10:30 p.m. service, trumpet fanfare will herald the midnight hour from the church’s grand tower.

Each service will include a special welcome and Christmas cookies. The church is at 3010 De Soto Blvd. in Coral Gables. For more information, call 305-448-7421.

CHRISTMAS DAY SERVICE

You are invited celebrate Christmas with the congregation of the Assumption of the BVM Ukrainian Catholic Church, 39 NW 57th Ct., at 10:30 a.m. Christmas Day. The Divine Liturgy will be followed by Christmas carols in the church hall. Refreshments will be served. Everyone is invited.

CHRISTMAS EVE MASS, CONCERT

The Archdiocese of Miami will celebrate Christmas Eve with a concert and Mass starting at 9:30 p.m. at St. Mary Cathedral, 7525 NW Second Ave.

The choir of St. Mary Cathedral will perform a Christmas concert, to be followed at 10 p.m. with Archbishop Thomas Wenski celebrating Christmas Eve Mass.

The community is invited.

‘A MOTHER’S PRAYER’

Christmas Eve services at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 11295 SW 57th Ave., will be at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. The theme is “A Mother’s Prayer.” The community is invited.

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

The 14th annual Festival of Lights Hanukkah hosted by Coral Gables will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Dec. 26 at Ponce Circle Park, 2800 Ponce de Leon Blvd.

The program will feature live musical entertainment, carnival rides and crafts for children, potato latkes, traditional Hanukkah doughnuts and other treats, and it’s all free.

Said Rabbi Avrohom Stolik: “We are excited to be celebrating our 14th year of the Grand Menorah Lighting Celebration with the community in Coral Gables. Now, more than ever, we need to strengthen our unity and Jewish pride and ensure that light prevails over darkness and goodness over evil.” Stolik is the spiritual leader of Chabad of Downtown Coral Gables.

Attorney Spencer Aronfeld will serve as master of ceremonies and Stolik will officiate. Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason will be among the honored guests. The highlight of the event will be the lighting of the candles on the 12-foot menorah that will illuminate Ponce Circle Park during the holiday season.

CONDEMNING BIGOTRY

A warm salute to the board of directors and staff of the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, who have joined with 90 Holocaust remembrance organizations and 71 Holocaust scholars of the Association of Holocaust Organizations to “strongly condemn the recent surge in racially charged rhetoric and blatantly bigoted behaviors that have been cropping up in communities across the United States.”

The association has called upon elected officials as well as civic and religious leaders to “forcefully and explicitly condemn the rise in hate speech and any attacks on our democratic principles.”

The statement, which was co-authored by members of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, a network dedicated to the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research is as follows:

“Recent months have seen a surge in unabashed racism and hate speech — including blatant anti-Semitism and attack on Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, women, the LGBTQ community , as well as other targeted groups.

“Journalists have been threatened. Places of worship, schools and playgrounds have been defaced with Nazi symbols intended to intimidate and arouse fear. White supremacist groups have become self-congratulatory and emboldened.

“History teaches us that intolerance, unchecked, leads to persecution and violence. We denounce racism and the politics of fear that fuels it. We stand in solidarity with all vulnerable groups. We take Elie Wiesel’s words to heart: ‘I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.’

“Therefore, we call upon all elected officials, as well as all civic and religious leaders, to forcefully and explicitly condemn the rise in hate speech and any attacks on our democratic principles. ... We call upon all people of good conscience to be vigilant, to not be afraid and to speak out.”

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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