Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: This holiday season, give the gift of love

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

We survived another Thanksgiving (thank the Lord), and now many of us are off and running, shopping lists in hand, to get those coveted Christmas gifts.

Something seems a bit wrong with this picture. This is the time of year when we should be a little laid back, thinking on how blessed we are to even get to this point in our lives. We should be enjoying one or several of the free Christmas concerts with family and friends. Or we could just be together with family, starting new traditions with the little ones or just visiting and remembering Christmases from times past.

Instead, the goodness of Christmas and its true meaning is often overshadowed by the many things we will try to get done before the day arrives. And by the time Christmas Day is here, many of us are so tired we don’t even care about its meaning. It’s all about, “Did I remember to get gift for everyone on my list?”

I am at a stage in my life where every day matters — a lot. I love giving gifts, mainly to the elderly and little children. But with my gift giving, I try not to forget the real reason for the season — Jesus Christ. I know I have a lot of friends who are of different faiths. I am not trying to change your mind about your religion. This is my personal testimony. And I love you if you agree with me and I love you if you don’t. Thank God for America, where we still have the freedom to worship according to the dictate of our heart.

Anyway, I started out by wanting to say, “While you are shopping for that perfect gift, take a little time to think about the real meaning of the day. Remember to help make the day more wonderful for somebody else, somebody you probably would not have thought of.”

Share a bit of peace and love with them.

I learned a long time ago that it isn’t the amount of money you spend of a gift. It is the amount of love that was put into getting the gift. Some years ago, I wrote about one of my aunts, who along with her husband, gave me and my brother Adam a safe place to live after my parents split. We stayed with Aunt Thelma and Uncle Morgan in rural Florida until our mom found a job and a place to live in Miami. When my sixth birthday came, Aunt Thelma said to me, “Baby, Auntie don’t have much money, but take these two pennies and go buy yourself something.”

I was rich! I thought of all the things I could buy with my two cents, and settled on buying my favorite — a box of chocolate snaps. My cousin Bernice, who was a year younger, and I skipped through the woods to the little country store to buy my birthday gift. But, because there were five boys waiting back home, we walked slowly through the woods, savoring every bite of the cookies. To this very day, the memory of my aunt giving me all she had is among my favorite gifts.

I have to remind myself of Aunt Thelma and the two cents from time to time. She gave her gift with love. And I felt it shining through. That is why it has meant so much to me all these years.

So, this Christmas, if you don’t have loads of money to buy fancy gifts, try giving the gift of love. It doesn’t cost anything, not even two pennies.


Here is another gift that won’t cost you anything: Old Cutler Presbyterian Church, 14401 Old Cutler Rd., will present its 39th annual Christmas concert at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the sanctuary.

Expect an evening filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas, performed by the church’s choirs, orchestra and worship band. The program will include selections from The Nutcracker Suite, Joy to the World, The Little Drummer Boy and lots of other Christmas favorites.

For more information, visit


Speaking of holiday music, the Cuban Hebrew Concert will be presented at 7:30 p.m Dec. 10 at the Cuban Hebrew Congregation, 1701 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach.

The event, Bima to Broadway — A Musical Concert, will feature Israeli singer Shalva Berti and local pianist Gary Lawrence, who will accompany Berti and Rabbi Cantor Stephen Texon. Berti has performed for the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) including former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Perez.

The program will include international, Jewish and Broadway favorites. The cost is $36 for VIP seating; $13 in advance for general admission; and $18 at the door. Call 305-534-7213 or email


The community is invited to a Christmas concert featuring the Miami Oratorio Society singing J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah at 5 p.m. Sunday at Parkway Baptist Church, 18000 NW 18th Ave., Miami Gardens.

The Miami Oratorio Society is directed by Anderson, and will feature soloists Joanne Martinez Von Gonten, soprano; Lissette Jimenez, alto; Lievens Costillo, tenor; and Daniel Snodgrass, bass.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth ages 10 to 17, and must be purchased in advance by calling Gloria Christian at 954-882-2242, Sonia Henry at 305-205-5029 or Shelia Miller at 305-331-9031.


Hats off to the KnitWits knitting ministry at Christ the King Lutheran Church. With a little help from an Action Team grant from the fraternal organization Thriven Financial, the knitting group made 77 scarves for the Special Olympics competitions in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The group also knits and crochets blankets, prayer shawls, hats and lap robes and has set a goal of providing 75 lap robes to Perdue Nursing Home in Cutler Bay by Christmas. It is a wonderful way to say “I love you” to the wheelchair-bound residents, and will help to keep them warm.

If you are interested in this ministry, call the church at 305-665-5063 or visit


Temple Beth Sholom, 4144 Chase Ave., Miami Beach will show the documentary Kabbalah Me at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and the public is invited. The documentary is a personal journey into the esoteric spiritual phenomenon known as Kabbalah.

Kabbalah has been studied throughout history, but only by the most holy Talmudic scholars. But because of misinformation, innuendo and prohibition surrounding Kabbalah, its wisdom was kept from most Jews and from the world, according to the synagogue.

In the documentary, co-director Steven Bram embarks on a spiritual investigation that leads him to reunite with the Hasidic branch of his family and connect to the community of Judaic scholarship. His curiosity takes him on a pilgrimage to Israel, where he immerses himself in the history and traditions of the Holy Land. Along the way, authorities discuss the complex, mystical world of Kabbalah. While Bram’s new commitment to spirituality and religious observance draws skepticism from family and friends, it ultimately leads to profound changes across all aspects of his life.

After the film, there will be a question and answer period with Bram. For more information, call Mark Baranek at 305-538-7231.


The Rev. Terence Taylor and the congregation of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration will host the 48th annual Candlelight Vesper service presented by the Alpha Gamma Chapter of Eta Phi Beta Sorority at 5 p.m. Dec. 13 and the public is invited. The service will be held in the church sanctuary, 15260 NW 19th Ave., Miami Gardens.

For more information, call 305-653-5326.

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