Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: A time to be thankful for faithful lives

Happy Thanksgiving, dear Neighbors.

As you gather with friends and family on this glorious day, I pray that your heart is filled with gratitude for all the blessings you have. Oh, I know — life isn’t perfect. It isn’t supposed to be. That’s why it’s called life. Still, you can have a perfectly thankful life, a life filled with gratitude and hope.

When I was a child, some of my friends (and even my late husband) called me a dreamer because I always saw life as I wanted it to be. As a young wife, I wanted a loving and happy home; a home where my children could grow up , seeing their parents expressing their love for each other. That never happened. But it didn’t stop me from believing in love, or that there was someone out there who was actually living as I had always dreamed.

I was right.

I accepted the Lord as a young mother of 23. After I became a member of The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness), I met several couples who lived life the way I thought it should be. One couple was Elder Thomas P. and Missionary Maxine B. Edwards. It amazed and delighted me to see the loving way they interacted with each other. Once while we were in church, I saw the young Edwards mouthing the words “I love you” to his wife, who sat right next to me in church. Their fourth child was a newborn at the time. I looked over at Maxine and she was blushing, eyes sparkling as she smiled back at her husband.

Today, my model couple have been married 65 years, and they still act like newlyweds. I tell you this story because at this time of Thanksgiving, I like to think of the many things that I have have to be thankful for. Many of my blessings have come from watching people like the Edwardses, who have been good Christian examples for me and so many others who have been touched by them.

You see, being thankful doesn’t always mean that one has to be thankful only for the “things” we have been given. It also means being thankful for those warm souls we have been blessed to share this journey with. The Edwardses may not know it, but they are among the people who have helped to make my life on earth more pleasant. They are bright lights in a world, where there is much darkness. I am thankful that they have always lived the Christian life, unashamed.

They aren’t the only lights I know. I am thankful for my pastor Bishop Walter H. Richardson who has been like a natural father to me, and also to my sons. My late son Rick used to refer to him as “my handsome godfather”. In his quiet and thoughtful way, Bishop (as we lovingly call him) reaches out to the downtrodden to offer whatever help he can, both spiritually and naturally. The recipients are not always in the church. His gentleness and compassion has endeared him to many.

When Bishop’s beloved wife, Poseline, died in 1996, he was a broken man. They had been married 49 years. It seemed he would never be happy again. Then God smiled on him again, and sent the pretty widow Betty Forbes into his life. They married two years later. Now, along with the Edwards and some others I know, they help set the bar for young married couples. I am so thankful for them and the light they send forth.

There are so many of you that I could write about in this love letter of thankfulness — from friends and colleagues, to readers and strangers, who think enough of me to email me note of encouragement now and then. I can’t mention all of you. But please know that I see your light and I feel your love.

So, dear Neighbors, as you sit down with your family and friends to give thanks on Thursday, know that I am also thanking God for you.

May you always be blessed.

BELEN SYMPOSIUM

Belen Jesuit Preparatory School at 500 SW 127th Ave. has been chosen to host a symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II and of “Nostra Aetate”, a landmark document that ushered in a new era in inter-religious relations, especially between Jews and Christians.

Issued in October of 1965 by Pope Paul VI, the primary architects of “Nostra Aetate” (Latin for ‘in our time’) were Jesuit Cardinal Augustin Bea and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

The speakers at the symposium will include, the Rev. Francisco Perez-Lerena, S. J. - Second Vatican Council, Its Inspiration; Antonio Lopez, Ph.D. - Decree “Nostra Aetate”, and Rabbi A. James Rudin - Impact of “Nostra Aetate” on Catholic-Jewish Relations.

The Rev. Pedro Suarez, president of the school said he is proud that Belen Jesuit was chosen to host the symposium, to celebrate the 50th anniversaryof the “... promulgation of ‘Nostra Aetate’, which is famous for reshaping the relationship between Catholics and Jews, rejecting the terrible tradition of anti-Semitism that had for many centuries plagued the church. I welcome our Jewish brothers and sisters with open arms.”

The symposium is free and open to the public, and will be in the Roca Theater on the school’s campus. The event will also be streamed live at http://www.youtube.com/user/BelenJesuit.

‘WALK THROUGH BETHLEHEM’

You can take “A Walk Through Bethlehem” and experience the story of Christmas at the annual community Advent Festival to be from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way. The Walk is held in the church parking lot on the corner of Biltmore Way and Hernando Street, around the corner from the city’s Holiday Spectacular at Merrick Park and across the street from the Merrick Festival Caroling Competition. All events are on the same day as the Walk.

The Walk is a family festival, and will feature a six-station activity tour where children can pose for census pictures and make hummus at the inn. There will be golden chocolates and real frankincense and myrrh for them along the way to the shepherd’s tent, where they can play with sheep and stash some real wool.

At the star station children will be able to decorate star cookies and, finally in the manger they will make and swaddle baby Jesus dolls. Twice during the evening, actors will present a Nativity enactment, complete with sheep and other real animals that will conclude with the singing of “Silent Night.”

Visitors also can enjoy uplifting Christmas music in the elegant Spanish Mediterranean sanctuary presented by organist Jay Brooks on the Louisa Candler Eldredge Memorial Organ, one of the largest in South Florida. The church’s Lighthouse Band and The Growing Place pre-school children will perform holiday favorites outside.

“The excitement of Christmas attracts people from all walks of life,” said Robert Gray, the church’s Youth Minister. He said the Walk is “our opportunity to reach out to parents and children in our neighborhood and share the story of the birth of Jesus with them. By making it fun and interactive, we hope that the joy and hope of this story will resonate with them not just during the holiday season but beyond it.”

Admission is free and the church will provide complimentary popcorn and cotton candy. There will also be a bake sale and men’s grill serving dinner food and drinks for purchase. Call 305-445-2578 for more information or visit: www.fumccg.org

CHRISTMAS MUSIC

One of the most popular Christmas songs in the world, “Carol of the Bells” will be performed in its original language at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Assumption of the Blessed virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Hear the ageless Christmas song as well as other favorites at a concert presented by the choir of the church at 38 NW 57th Ave. The concert is the seventh annual Christmas choral program featuring the universally loved Christmas carol and other traditional Ukrainian Christmas and holiday songs of the season.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted and will go toward the church building fund. For more information call 305-798-0190.

HARVAST AND BAZAAR

The annual Harvest and Holiday Bazaar presented by Revelation Community Education Center and Women in Transition will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 at the BAC Funding Building, 6600 NW 27th Ave. The free event will feature food and fun, said Joyce Reid, one of the organizers. Vendor space is still available. Call Reid at 786-281-8098 for more information.

CHOIR CONCERT

Since 1991, the South Dade Community choir has filled the air at Christmastime with its wonderful concerts.

This year, the 2015 Christmas Concerts will be presented at Silver Palm United Methodist Church, 15855 SW 248th St. in Homestead at 7 p.m. Dec. 4, and at Krome Avenue Church, 22755 SW 177th Ave., at 7 p.m. Dec. 11.

The South Dade Community Choir is an affiliate member of the Homestead Center for the Arts. If you are interested in joining the group, rehearsals are held weekly at Silver Palm United Methodist Church.

Rehearsals for Easter, 2016 will begin Jan. 4. New members are invited.

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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