Here we are, dear friends, on the threshold of a brand new year. As I look forward to 2017, I must also take a look back at 2016. In my own family, the year brought with it much laughter, and tears also. I lost dear relatives and friends to death, but I made great new friends and learned to cherish the memories of the loved ones who have passed away.
As a nation, we have experienced an election this year that nearly tore us apart at the seams. But now that the dust has settled (somewhat), we need to come together for the good of the country and keep our President-elect Donald Trump in our prayers. It is important to pray for our leaders because they will be making decisions that will affect us all.
This year, we have experienced many brutal shootings and this thing called road rage almost makes me want to park my car forever. It’s gotten so bad that when someone is daydreaming at a traffic light, I am nervous about tooting my horn to let the driver know the light has changed. I am not big on making New Year’s resolutions, but I am big on making a new start. And friends, here in our community and indeed, across the nation, we need a new start — one that excludes violence.
While there were many sad things we can look back on, a lot happened to make me realize how blessed we are as a nation. Little things like waking up every morning without the sounds of bombs bursting around me. That is not so in some countries. And I am grateful to the men and women who are willing to give their lives to keep me safe.
I am grateful for the shelter that is provided for me; for the food that I eat and for the clothes on my back; for friendly neighbors, and even strangers who pause for a second to smile at me and to say “Hello.” That happened to me a lot during 2016 and it always made my day. And I am happy to be in my “right mind,” as my late mom used to say.
While we struggled this year, with the fact that gun violence is on the rise, I am grateful for those officials who tirelessly go out of their way to try to bring the violence that is killing our youth to an end. Nothing is sadder to me, than to have to attend the funeral of a child killed in the crossfire of violent people. The fight to end this should continue in the new year.
As I write this, my thoughts go back to Christmas Day, when many family members got together at my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Melbourne. It was a great time, with prayer for being able to be together and for laughter and family jokes. I looked around at our beautiful grandchildren, and great nieces and nephews, who are now teenagers. My heart was filled with gratitude just for being the matriarch of the family and for being in the midst of them. It was a grand time.
So, dear friends, as we pause to enter a new year, let’s remember all the blessings of the old year. Not everything happened as we would have liked. but we are here and as long as we are alive, we can work together to make right the wrongs that haunted us throughout 2016.
A blessed New Year to you all!
BISHOP TO TURN 95
It’s happy birthday time for Bishop Walter H. Richardson, who will celebrate his 94th birthday on Jan. 5
Richardson, the pastor and overseer of The Church of God Tabernacle at 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City for more than a half century, will celebrate his special day at a luncheon at the Don Shula Hotel at noon Sunday.
Also, happy belated birthday to Richardson’s wife, Missionary Betty, and also to Missionary Maxine Edwards, the wife of the church’s assistant pastor Elder Thomas P. Edwards. The two women celebrated their birthdays on Christmas Day.
AUDIO BIBLES TO BE DISTRIBUTED
Just in case you weren’t aware, Food For The Poor does a lot more than distribute food to the needy. The charity organization also gives destitute families safe and secure houses, with access to clean water and a flush toilet.
Now, Food For The Poor will also see to it that families in need receive a spiritual gift too: their very own Bible.
According to information from Food for the Poor, the Bible will be a rechargeable, portable audio player so that everyone, even those who cannot read or write, can enjoy the book in their spoken language.
The organization will send 7,000 audio Bibles, including a Creole version to Haiti, an English version to Jamaica and a Spanish version to Honduras and Nicaragua, to be presented as gifts to family members in every new home built by the charity’s generous donors. Later, the Bible will also be given to nonviolent offenders who are released from prison twice a year.
The audio Bibles fit in the palm of the hand and can be charged from a solar-powered source by using an accompanying USB cable or an electrical outlet with a charger. Each home built by the charity is equipped with a solar-powered light kit.
Said Robin Mahfood, president/CEO of Food for the Poor: “This will be a good way to listen to the Word of God and to bring the family together to listen to it. This is a very beautiful thing.”
The charity’s mission is to link the church of the First World with the church of the Third World in a manner that helps both the materially poor and the poor in spirit.
For more information, visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
HANUKKAH CELEBRATION SUNDAY
The community is invited to the annual Hanukkah celebration to be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at Coral Reef Park, 7895 SW 152nd St. in Palmetto Bay.
The celebration will include, for the first time, a balloon menorah and will be hosted by Chabad of Palmetto Bay. If you go, you will see the live making of the balloon menorah and later the menorah lighting in the gazebo. There will be music, entertainment, original crafts, a bounce house, face painting and the traditional holiday foods such as latkes, doughnuts and chocolate Hanukkah gelt.
Also, up are invited to a Hanukkah experience from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, at Publix Supermarket, 14601 S. Dixie Hwy.
Both events are free and open to the community.
CONCERT TRIBUTE TO ROBERT MERRILL
The Cuban Hebrew Congregation — Temple Beth Shmuel of Miami Beach, 1701 Lenox Ave., will begin its Sunday Concert Series at 2 p.m. Jan. 8 with a gala tribute to Metropolitan Opera legend Robert Merrill on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
The program will include renowned cantors Alberto Mizrahi and Stephen Texon performing a wide variety of beloved selections associated with Merrill and his dear friend and colleague Richard Tucker. Dr. Alan Mason, musical director of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, will accompany on the piano.
For tickets and more information call 305-534-7213.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.