Independence.

July the 2nd

During this tumultuous time of 242 years ago fighting off the English since 1773, the colonies wanted badly to gain independence one way or another. The southern colonies desired to keep slavery as their right while the north fought against it. The two sides eventually came together agreeing to declare their right to govern themselves as one united nation.

Thomas Jefferson was quietly composing the declaration of Independence to send to the British crown. Even though he was a slave holder as was Washington, he wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (back in those days the term ‘all men’ included all of humanity regardless of sex, race or nationality) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (impossible to take away or give up) rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Let us not ever forget it, or as Ben Franklin has been quoted saying, “We must hang together or surely we will hang separately.”

 

July the 3rd.

It was yesterday 242 years ago that the colonies agreed to declare their independence, and not until 6 days later when the official declaration was read to the people of Philadelphia. No instant news in those days as news traveled slowly by horseback and sailing ships across the Atlantic delivering the news to England on August 20th: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”

A couple days before the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason stood up – a delegate from Virginia, genius, brilliant – and he said, ‘If Congress shall turn oppressive, the only way to reform what’s taking place is through violence. We must give the people the power to address a tyrannical Congress,

Article V of the Constitution provides a means where the states have the right to propose Amendments when ratified by 3/4th of the States, it would be valid to all Intent and Purposes.

It was not until 1938 when Congress declared the 4th of July as a federal holiday to be enjoyed by all. Our customs of celebration has changed over the years, from an earlier custom of building towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks and setting it on fire. Currently, we hold BBQ’s, picnics along a lakeside, a campfire, family gatherings in the backyards with sparklers and our own purchased legal fireworks, and then to view the local fireworks displays. We will perhaps record the Macy’s celebration in NYC to watch later.  This Year Hallmark is broadcasting a White House celebration as the President, and First Lady will commemorate the day by welcoming military families for an afternoon picnic on the south lawn and later viewing the fireworks display put on by the National Park Service.

Happy Independence.

 

July the 4th.

The last paragraph of that declaration.

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Cicero was murdered in 43 B.C. What might he have said that enlightened the Declaration of 1776?  “There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil,”

“It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must forever reign, eternal and imperishable,” Cicero said. “God himself is its author, its promulgator, its enforcer.”

What did Hamilton think of this argument?  “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records,” Hamilton wrote in 1775. “They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Then there was Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn”

R.W. Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

He penned these few lines about the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first official engagement between Britain and the Colonies in Americas beginning on April 19, 1775, which lasted eight and a half years. The American Revolution finally ended on September 3, 1783, with America and the King of England signing the Treaty of Paris.

This document was signed by 56 Americans wanting to be free and independent, many of whom gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Tonight, when you see and hear the fireworks exploding, think of the shot heard around the world.

 

3 Meals per day? Ha, Ha. Gotch-ya.

How far back in history must you go to find that ancient people (now considered as those of our great grand-parents age) did not regularly eat according to the clock: 6 or 7am breakfast. 12 noon lunch and 6 pm dinner. That’s how it was for me as a kid growing up in the 50’s. You must eat 3 meals a day to maintain optimum health according to the ‘experts’ back then. We had eggs and/or pancakes with a glass of milk and possible orange juice before heading off to school carrying our brown paper sack of a peanut butter sandwich on white bread with a side of chips, possibly an apple and pickle thrown in for added benefit. Then when dad got home, family dinner time at 6 pm of spaghetti and meat balls and slice of bread to swipe the sauce off the plate.  Then homework time and be ready to slide under the covers at 10 after watching the b/w 9-inch TV for local news at 9.  That was life in the 50’s.

And now 60 years later we not only delight in 3 meals per day but snacks in-between. Oh, how I love to snack, to always have a goodie near-by to nibble on while being entertained by others.  Hersey chocolates are my favorite along with jelly beans and an occasional piece of licorice, fig bars or Ritz crackers (a pinch of salt) or a handful of pistachios.  Also, wow, a bowl of potato chips to dip into that sharp cheddar cheese dip between sips of beer while watching a 3-hour ball-game hit it off satisfying the stomach growl.

But, did our great grand-parents eat 3 meals a day when they were growing up? That would have been in the time before the calendars turned to 1900, closer to 1850. Society then was predominately agrarian working the farms, raising cows, goats, chickens, pigs and riding horses to get to the local market. Relaxation was walking to the near-by stream or lake to catch some fish and take a skinny dip. In between the seasons many would head off to the forests hunting a deer, fox, bear, buffalo. Life was not so convenient requiring lots of physical energy. Women were baking bread, feathering a chicken, scrubbing the farm dirt, instructing the kiddies on the realities of life. She was possibly a school mom. Sundays came, time to clean-up, dress up, greet and share news with neighbors at the local church.

The industrial revolution was beginning, and the young workers were moving from farms to the cities to eat lunch in the factories. Go back to 1904 when the first New Year celebration in Times Square and look at the crowd. You will not see any obese folks watching the ball drop. There are many black and white photos of people in the streets of NY in the 20’s to 40’s. No obese. I have hanging in my home office a 1928 photo of my grand-parents congregation of the Auburn Park SW church attending a Sunday School rally day. Lots of slim kids. No overly heavy people.

There were no fast food joints, no drive-ins, restaurants were few and far between, and pushing a cart through the aisles selecting your grocery list was unheard of. McDonalds was not. White castle was not. Nor a Burger King and the rest of the drive-throughs for a what else but a ‘happy meal’.  Yes, the advertisement of a very attractive slim young lady throwing her slim arms high in the air celebrating how happy you’ll be. The trauma of a hard day will end when you down that burger and fries with a diet Coke. We’re open 24/7. Gotch-ya.

Obesity is defined as having your waist size larger than your butt size. Another measurement of obesity is determined by the formula: (Weight in Pounds / (Height in inches x Height in inches)) x 703. That’s your BMI. Anything over 25 is getting close to obesity. A healthy body will be more like the hour glass shape. The US and Mexico supposedly have close to 40% of the population as obese. In the UK two-thirds of men and almost six in 10 women are overweight or obese.

So, here we are in 2018 when farming is done riding a John Deere and trucking the veggies across the country measured in hours for freshness. Chickens are raised by the thousands in large open-air cages. Cows are butchered in factories, and TV’s have 250 selections to choose from, telephones are in hand computers as we drive the free-ways to sit-down office work. Obesity is becoming the majority consuming food 3 times per day and nibbling the rest of the time. There are even voices being heard that smaller meals 4-5 times a day reduces obesity risk by 45 percent. [1] Three-meals per day lowers blood pressure.

So, who do we listen to for sound advice? The advertisers? The government agencies?

Does anyone fast anymore.  For those who may not know what that word (fast) means, I offer this simple definition: Go without food for a self-determined length of time, such as no food at all (water, yes) for a day, three days, 21 or 40 days, or even just a meal or two. Yes, it can be done. It used to be common among Christians to fast during lent before Easter. Oh, to think on that drives me up the wall. I thought that would be considered ‘works of the flesh’, so forget it, I’m saved by faith.

Satan says: “gotch-ya.”

[1] htps://www.alternet.org/story/152486/there_is_no_biological_reason_to_eat_three_meals_a_day_–_so_why_do_we_do_it

Your New Years Resolutions.

Time to get started. Think of what parts of your life you need to change next year. Yes, it’s just a few days away.  Write them down. Print the list. Post it where you can easily see your personal promises every day. But there are party’s to go to. Ring the bell, watch it drop; 4,3,2,1, Happy New Year. One more drink. Rose Bowl Parade to watch.

Oh, the years that I’ve made resolutions only to forget and neglect to keep those “promises” a few days into the new year. So, we say to ourselves that this year will be different.  Why oh why do we do such things? Party like crazy. Then make promises we don’t keep, and we do it year after year. Slow learners?

We know. We know, we know we do wrong. We know we should do better. This knowledge is built into us as humans. We know there are things in our life that should be and could be changed, and so we try, but only to fail again. And that’s been the human condition ever since those first two humans failed, so the Everlasting Almighty Redeemer was sent to rescue us and Save us from our sinful ways.

Some background.

New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backward into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), gates, doors, doorways, endings, and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges, and we see this statue (pictured at left,) set on the bridge Ponte Fabricio which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction in 62 BC during the time of Julius Caesar. Even today it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune.” [1]

Janus_Ponte_Fabricio

For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, especially African-American denominations and congregations, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are often spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year. [2]

[1] http://billpetro.com/history-of-new-years-resolutions

[2] http://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions

Christmas has past.

Okay folks, the official celebration of Christ-mas is over, the presents have been opened with surprise mixed with some joy, or regret you choose that. Children excitedly played with the new toy and the teens involved with the new techno game. Dinner was fantastic.

The relatives are gone, the wrapping paper and boxes discarded for the city to remove to the trash heaps, the dinner plates cleaned and neatly placed away with left-overs galore in the frig. Lots and lots of pictures were taken to share, to remember. Are you now looking at the decorations wishing they’d all just disappear back into safe keeping, or have you already started the process of carefully packaging them away for the next eleven months: in a closet, the garage or/and the attic. Or, do you wait till after a few days have passed?

So, was it a happy holiday for all? Were all conversations happy remembrances?  Did discussions of the political climate enter any conversations disrupting the peaceful fellowship? Was there any talk at all about the reason for the season? Or is that a subject to stay away from too, keeping any discussion of Biblical religion within? It can cause arguments too. Did you watch a romantic Christmas love story movie together? The NFL had a prime-time game to watch between commercials. Deserts finished, and the belly is full.

The pictures you took capture one moment in time. You’ll look back on those remembering the good-times you had this Christmas.

Now it’s time to relax. Santa is back to the pole. But, wait, the malls are discounting prices like crazy.

I have tacked to the wall in front of me, a picture of the family gathering of years ago. A few no longer here, some grown by 6-16 inches, all recognizable this current year and joyful to look at remembering the good time with my extended family that I’ve loved and cherished over the years we then had together.

December 25, 2017

On this day in history, time changed. Huh? What? Time just keeps going and going, one day after another, year after year we have birthdays counting how old we get. But yet, our historical calendar changed from counting the years to counting down to zero, and then counting up again. Wow, something must have happened. Alien space ships landing?

Have historians messed with our minds? A typist error not caught by Hallmark? Hollywood? The Media? The schools? This should be the year 8017 or something similar, right, as all calendars start at number one, at the beginning of life.

The difference points to one event recorded in history sometime over two thousand years ago pointing to a new boy being born to a couple who had not yet walked down the aisle. Boys and girls are born everyday to those who have made their vows and to those who have not and the kings, the magistrates, the historians over time don’t change the calendar just for them. What happened? Why was this kid so important?

Got to be something really special, outstanding of great importance to the entire world, for all cultures to change their calendars to the year one and start counting up again.

Yes, folks, you know the event. We’re celebrating it today.

The Supreme, Almighty God, creator of this Universe determined something must be done to change the attitude, the behavior of this part of living creation. Got to show these people a new beginning, a new hope, a new eternal salvation by sending one spiritual part to become a physical being like us, to be born like one of us, the mother experiencing the same pain and effort and then rejoicing and loving this new baby. The angels sang. The shepherds came.

Yes, history has changed. Jesus the Christ Savior was born.

Christmas Eve 1914

Oh, if the entire world could and would find something in common with each other, something worthy of a united celebration. It is with us. It has come. Let’s utilize it each and every day.

On Christmas Eve 1914, on the battle field in Belgium, “About five o’clock on Christmas Eve the Germans started lighting up Christmas trees in their trenches. We took no notice of them until they began to sing. Then we began to cheer them and talk to one another as we are only about 80 yards apart. So by the light of their searchlight our officers went across halfway and their officers came to meet them. They shook hands and conversed for a while. It was agreed that we should have a day off and they would fire the first shot to start again. So from five o’clock on Christmas Eve until ten o’clock this morning (December 26th) neither side has fired, only walked about. Some of the Germans came across to us and we shook hands and had some chocolate and cigars from them.”

Read More…http://www.wnd.com/2017/12/the-most-wonderful-day-of-world-war-i/

 

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! The Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 

Kris Kringle is coming to town

Ho, Ho. Ho, it’s time for Santa Claus to slide down the chimney neatly placing the last-minute gifts under the tree for the kiddies to excitedly tear into early Monday morning. Your sleep may be disturbed as the reindeer come to an abrupt stop on the roof. You’ve left gluten-free cookies and a can of Diet Pepsi for his nourishment of the long night travels from the north pole and around the world. Or, as it’s very cold and snowy outside, you may have left a shot of rum and a tub of hot chocolate.

Oh, but where did this traditional spirit of the holiday come from? And why?

This tradition had its start way back to what is now Turkey in the year 270, when a young man became rich from his father’s estate, who gave much of that to the homeless living on the street corners, to the poor children and to anyone in need which elevating him to fame. He secretly gave of his wealth wanting nothing in return ever conscious of the needs of others earning him the honor of a Saint of the Church. He was Bishop Nicholas.  During the council of Nicaea the church leaders were debating the nature of the trinity, when Nicholas slapped the face of another bishop who taught that Jesus was not equal with God the Father. The Roman ruler Constantine stripped Nicholas of his position and had him thrown in jail for such a breach of decorum.

As a bishop, Nicholas, servant of God, was first and foremost a shepherd of the people, caring for their needs. His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need. [1]

Another story of the life of Saint Nicholas goes like this:

There was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters could not marry. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry. [2]

For several hundred years, circa 1200 to 1500, St. Nicholas was the unchallenged bringer of gifts and the toast of celebrations centered around his day, December 6. The strict saint took on some aspects of earlier European deities, like the Roman Saturn or the Norse Odin, who appeared as white-bearded men and had magical powers like flight. He also ensured that kids toed the line by saying their prayers and practicing good behavior.” But after the Protestant Reformation, saints like Nicholas fell out of favor across much of northern Europe.

In early America German and Austrian immigrants to America brought the name Kris Kringle (Christ King) to be the giver of gifts. [2]

Later on, some Dutch families gathered together on December 5th 1773,.to honor the anniversary of the death of “Sinter Klass”, their nickname for Saint Nicholas. [3]

In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” also known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,

. . . . .

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

And on and on the legend grows over the years, adapts to new additions and traditions, to what we now have without a whimper: a grandfatherly figure with full beard dressed in red that’s trimmed in white fur, calf length black boots and wearing a red cap trimmed in white, now ringing the bell in front of stores from Thanksgiving on. Other Santa’s are at the mall having children sit on his lap whispering what they want for Christmas.

On the eve of Christmas, Santa is sitting in a sleigh pulled by Rudolf along with Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen, On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem; To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!” and across the skies he goes bringing gifts to the well-behaved children because he knows who’s naughty or nice.

We do like our traditions.

So, what’s does all this have to do with the real reason of the season that’s buried under our beloved traditions?  God sent His Only Son to be born to the virgin Mary, in a manger because there was no room in the Inn. Since our lives are limited to this physical world, the creator Almighty God came to us: a human just like the rest of us, one who we could physically see, feel, hear, touch and smell. God’s act of redemption to all of humanity has begun with that Immaculate Conception of Jesus.

History has recorded it for us all.

Another scene we prepare for are the extended family gatherings, a time of refreshing memories, of good will to others, of blessing others with gifts, of the admiration of sparkling lights, of sending cards of Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. When that time of sitting at the dinner table comes, read together Luke 2:1-20.

 

[1] http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/bishop-of-myra/

[2] https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/fatherchristmas.shtml

[3] http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus

[4] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131219-santa-claus-origin-history-        christmas-facts-st-nicholas/