Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Great-grandchildren bring joy and wisdom

I am so thankful that I have lived long enough to enjoy my great-grandchildren. I thought it was fun when I became a grandmother, but nothing compares to the joy of being a great-grandma.

Jaylen and Tavaris are first cousins. Both are 7, born four months apart. Tavaris lives in Orlando now, so I don’t get to see him as often as I would like. Jaylen lives nearby. And I so love being a contributor of positive things in their lives.

Recently, I got a call from Jaylen around 6 a.m. We talked for nearly 30 minutes, with him bringing me up to date on the happenings in his life. When he was done talking he said, “... and what do we say Grandma? Don’t let nothing disturb your peace!” And he hung up the phone.

I’d said that to him one day when he complained that a classmate had caused him to “get in trouble” with the teacher. I told him he was responsible for his own actions and it was up to him to not be led the wrong way by his peers, and that he shouldn’t let anyone or anything disturb his peace.

Apparently the advice took. Since then, whenever I drive him to school, he always repeats the phrase as he gets out of the car, and runs to catch up with his friends. It’s moments like these that I cherish.

Children have the gift of making me laugh. One day last year, when Jaylen and Tavaris were visiting with me, they got very busy in the front yard, climbing my Frangipani tree. When they got quiet, I checked to see what they were doing and nearly slipped on the muddy porch.

They told me they were planting trees so they could build a tree house. Apparently, they thought the twigs would be trees by the next day.

I thought about that day when I visited Jaylen’s school last week for Career Day. I’d been invited, along with people from other professions, to talk to several classes about my career as a journalist. I told them a bit about my work, mentioning that I’d had the opportunity to interview some very important people. I mentioned the late Rosa Parks.

“Ohhhhh” came the response from the second-graders when I mentioned Rosa Park’s name. They had learned about her during Black History Month. I’d opened a can of worms, so to speak. Now they wanted to know what it was like in the “old days.”

“Did the people have cars back then?” “Did they ride horses?” “What kind of clothes did they wear?”

I explained that people did have cars back then and they dressed pretty much the way they do today.

Then, I saw a hand go up to my right. It was Jaylen. I acknowledged him and he asked: “Were you ever a slave?”

I stifled a chuckle and said, “No, Jaylen.”

Later, as I thought about his question and those of his classmates, I realized that I really am OLD to them. They see a woman with gray hair, talking about a woman I had interviewed before some of their parents were even born. It made sense. When I was 7, a person of 25 seemed ancient to me.

I accept the fact that I seem older than maybe I am to Jaylen and his peers. But I love it when his little friends greet me with, “Hey, Jaylen’s grandma.”

It makes me smile and I don’t feel old at all. Just blessed.

Christmas Eve services

Speaking of old, Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ invites the community to its annual Christmas Eve worship services, starting at 5:30 p.m. with the Wiggle-Welcome Family Service. Attendees will experience Christmas through the eyes and voices of children and youth choirs and hand chimes. Following the service, a live Nativity scene will be in the church’s courtyard.

At 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., there will be traditional candlelight services with choirs, organ, brass and words of the season. Following the 10:30 p.m. service, a trumpet fanfare will herald in the midnight hour. Everyone is invited to a treat of Christmas cookies after each service.

It’s free and every family, neighbor and traveler is invited to join in the joy of Christmas at the church, 3010 De Soto Blvd. in Coral Gables.

Scripture and carols

You are invited to Trinity Cathedral for a Service of Lessons and Carols at 5 p.m. Dec. 21. The worship service includes a series of scripture readings interspersed with carols and hymns. The order of service will also feature Florida’s Singing Sons, a boy choir made up of youngsters from throughout the state, along with the Anglican Chorale of South Florida.

“This is always a great community event,” said the Right Rev. Douglas McCaleb, dean of the cathedral. “This year, I have invited leaders from throughout Miami to read one of the scriptures.”

The historic church is at 464 NE 16th St.

Inspirational concert

Jesus People Ministries International Miami at 4055 NW 183rd St. will present “A Night of Joy” concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the sanctuary. It’s free and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Featured musical guests will include recording artist Terrence Clayton and his musical group.

The community is invited and it’s free.

Christmas pageant

Bishop Walter H. Richardson and the Bible classes at The Church of God Tabernacle, 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City, invites the community to the annual Christmas Pageant at 10 a.m. Sunday .

The teachers of the Bible classes led by Missionary Betty Richardson and the children, have worked for the past several months on the pageant, which will feature the story of Christmas as told by the children.

Also, the church’s Mass Choir will celebrate the season with music and a special skit.

It’s free.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.