Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Thanksgiving holiday gives way to tragic mass shootings

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

I’d just returned from a very happy Thanksgiving holiday in Missouri when the news flash came on, interrupting a favorite daytime show. Another mass shooting.

I wasn’t prepared for the news. But how does one prepare for such violence? There are no kits available to guide us through the process of preparing ourselves to see our fellow citizens gunned down on American soil.

I sat up straight, so as not to miss a single word of the reporting. The pictures of the injured being carried away tugged at my heart. I was happy that some people had been spared and saddened for those who did not make it. Slowly, the story was pieced together. The victims were at a holiday party, when the gunman, a radical Muslim, rushed in shooting at anyone and everyone in his view.

The thought of terrorists living among us is enough to frighten the most faithful. But when I start to become faint of heart, I am reminded of the words from 2 Timothy in the Bible, which says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

We who are of sound mind and who love peace and freedom understand that we can’t blame the entire Muslim community for the heinous acts of a few. It is unfair to confuse peace-loving Muslims with the radicals who live, just to die for their twisted beliefs — and will take out anyone and everyone with them to make their point.

The story goes two ways: As a devout Christian, I would not want to be linked to the so-called Christians who do horrible things to fellow human beings “in the name of the Lord.”

Robert L. Dear, 57, is accused of killing a police officer and two others and wounding nine more including five police officers in a shooting rampage at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. Did Dear think he was doing God a favor by killing people at a facility where abortions are among the services offered? On that fateful day, Dear became the avenger of the unborn babies who lost their life in that clinic. Was God pleased with Dear’s actions? I don’t think so. The Word of God tells us that revenge belongs to the Lord.

These are trying times for America and the world. And it saddened me to see the headline in a New York paper reading “God Can’t Fix this” in big, black bold letters. When trials come, like the ones we face in these times, the faith of the majority seems to wear thin. I don’t know who wrote the headline. I don’t know if the person has become faithless because he or she doesn’t understand why God allows such things to happen. I do know that to announce to the world that “God Can’t Fix” something is a bold and untrue statement. God can fix anything. And in His own time, He will fix this.

Meanwhile, here are some questions that we as peace-loving citizens are asking:

No. 1: Why are ordinary citizens allowed to purchase combat rifles and other war-like weapons? I am not trying to deny anyone the right to bear arms. But assault guns? I don’t think so.

No. 2: Why on earth isn’t a red flag raised when ordinary citizens start to stockpile ammunition? Shouldn’t there be a limit on how many bullets one person can buy?

And No. 3: Why aren’t there more strict background checks? So many of the shooters have a history of mental illness. We have sent a man to the moon, surely we can find a better way to check out the gun buyers.

HAPPY HANUKKAH WISHES

It warms my heart to be able to wish our Jewish community a Happy Hanukkah.

CocoWalk and Chabad in the Grove will continue the weeklong Menorah lighting, which began Sunday. The event features a six-foot menorah created just for the occasion. The lighting will take place at 5:15 p.m. through Sunday, except Saturday, when the lighting will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The community is invited to gather on the left side of CocoWalk near Gap and Starbucks, where Chabad will give out snacks and literature. Each night one guest will be chosen to light the menorah. It’s free and open to the public.

PALMETTO BAY HANUKKAH CELEBRATION

You are invited to a Hanukkah celebration presented by the village of Palmetto Bay from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The celebration will be at Coral Reef Park, 7895 SW 152nd St.

It’s free to the entire community and will be centered at the gazebo/bandshell near Southwest 77th Avenue. Hosted by Chabad of Palmetto Bay, the event will feature activities for all ages, including a bounce house, a live olive press show, kids’ arts and crafts, music and raffles and the traditional holiday delicacies — donuts, latkes and Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) and dreidels.

For more information call 786-208-9222 or visit: www.JewishPalmettoBay.org

HADASSAH PRESENTS HANUKKAH MUSIC PROGRAM

The Inter-American Chapter of Hadassah invites the community to a program featuring music from Broadway shows and traditional Jewish music emphasizing Hanukkah at 3 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Shmuel, Cuban Hebrew Congregation, 1700 Michigan Ave. in Miami Beach.

The event is sponsored by Jeanne and Boris Rosen in honor of their grandchildren Alma S. Rosen and Jude M. Rosen; and by Ana and Oscar Sklar in memory of their parents, Estela and Gabriel Yagid and Rosa and Salomon Sklar.

If you go, the chapter is asking for a minimum donation of $12 per person at the door. Children are free. For more information, call committee members Beby Gambach at 305-866-4700; Esther Litvin, 305-864-2036; Marta Olchyk, 305-867-5887; or Lola Order, 305-534-7034.

ANNUAL HANDEL’S ‘MESSIAH’ SING-IN

Singers and lovers of Handel’s Messiah: You can dust off your scores and get ready for the 44th annual Messiah sing-in.

The open rehearsal will begin at 2:30 p.m., with the concert to follow at 4 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way. The choir will perform with The Alhambra Orchestra, guest soloists and organist Matthew Steynor.

This is a free event and a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit. Call Phee Price, executive director of Civic Choral of Greater Miami, at 305-490-5930.

VOICES OF ANGELS CONCERT IN CORAL GABLES

Voices of Angels, a concert presented by the Miami Children’s Chorus, will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way.

The chorus will continue its 50th anniversary celebration with a concert of traditional and new holiday music. Songs to be performed include Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, and O Come, O Come Immanuel as arranged by Natalie Steeth. There will also be new holiday music by Mark Sirett Hodie and the duo Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory.

Tickets to the concert can be purchased by visiting the Miami Children’s Chorus website, www.miamichildrenschorus.org, or by calling the office at 305-662-7494. General admission is $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 18, chorus alumni and senior citizens.

HOLIDAY FESTIVAL/TOY, FOOD DRIVE

Palm Springs United Methodist Church at 5700 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah invites the community to its “first ever” Holiday Festival/Toy and Canned Food Drive from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday.

The event will also feature an evening of outdoor caroling; cookie stations; hot chocolate; a holiday craft booth, where children of all ages can decorate sugar cookies and more; a Christmas tree sale; and just pure, old-fashioned holiday fun. There will also be interactive storytelling, raffles, food items for sale and pictures with Santa Claus.

If you go, bring our own lounge chairs or blankets. All ages are welcome.

For more information and/or to volunteer, call 305-821-3232.

LIVING NATIVITY IN MIAMI SHORES

Miami Shores will present its 59th annual Living Nativity, which features the depiction of the Christmas story, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the church, 602 NE 96th St. in Miami Shores.

The Living Nativity is an open-air reenactment of Christ’s birth and will include live camels, donkeys, goats and sheep along with a mix of digital and live-action characters to include Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the prophets, angels, and the Wise Men. There will also be narration with a choir.

If you go, please bring canned goods, which will be donated to a local food bank. Call 305-754-9541 for more information.

CHRISTMAS CANTATA IN HOMESTEAD

The Silver Palm United Methodist Church Choir will present its Christmas Cantata, Breath of Heaven, at 10 a.m. Sunday in the sanctuary, 15855 SW 248th St. in Homestead. It’s free and everyone is invited.

FREE CHRISTMAS CONCERT

A free Christmas concert, A Tapestry of Christmas, will be presented by St. Thomas Episcopal Church at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Music will be provided by the choirs of St. Thomas; the Massed Handbell choir directed by Maryann Tobin; the St. Thomas Parish School Choir directed by Holly Jarrell; the St. Thomas Chorale directed by Timothy Lester; and the St. Thomas Parish Choir, also directed by Lester. There will also be several local handbell choirs from churches in the community.

If you go, plan to shop at the church’s Christmas market during intermission. The church is at 5692 N. Kendall Dr in Coral Gables.

Church to present Handel’s ‘Messiah’

The fifth annual free concert of Handel’s Messiah will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Church of the Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St.

Presented by the African American Committee of Dade Heritage Trust, the event is a concert of “Bridging Classics of the Past with Classics of the Future,” and features soloists Josef Spencer, tenor; Kayos Dare, bass; Christine Jobson, soprano, and Carol Caselle, alto.

The 2015 Miami Messiah Community Mass Choir and Orchestra is directed by Nelson Hall. A free reception, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women of the Church of the Incarnation, will follow in The Father J. Kenneth Major Hall.

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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