Claremont United Methodist Church Highlights ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Nativity Scene…

Hello World,

Christmas is literally hours away at this point so I hope we take time out of our busy schedules to reflect on the meaning of the season which is summed up in this beautiful verse: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

I love to see varied nativity scenes, but I’ve never seen one like what Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, California is featuring on its grounds! The words “Black Lives Matter” as well as other striking statements are included in its nativity scene. See an excerpt of the story “Church Makes Statement With Black Lives Matter-Themed Nativity Scene: ‘It Was a Natural Choice'” by Kerry Justich on Yahoo.com below.

A church in California is making a statement about racial injustice in America by turning its nativity scene into a display of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The scene that sits just outside of Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont features the Virgin Mary, Joesph and a racially ambiguous baby Jesus in front of a wall of protestors holding up signs reading “I can’t breathe,” “Jesus wept” and “Racism is a pandemic too.” Just above the illustration, a sign reads, “Say their names” with a list of Black Americans who were unjustly murdered, including Emmett Till, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

Pam Bunce, who chairs the Creative Peacemaking Committee responsible for the nativity scene at the church, tells Yahoo Life that making socially impactful statements with the display is something that they’ve done at the church for just over a decade.

“Each year we look at social justice issues, and select the theme for that year. Our church property is just a frontage road away from [a busy boulevard], so is highly visible to the community,” she explains. “We believe that, as beautiful as the Christmas story is, it’s only the beginning. We believe that Jesus came to Earth to minister to the marginalized and the oppressed. It’s not a sentimental story. It’s a bold story of commitment and service. Too often that part of the story is left out.” Read the rest HERE.

Also, below is an excerpt of the church’s theological statement, which is posted on the church’s web site, explaining its nativity scene.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a young Jewish woman, who lived in a remote part of the Roman Empire. As a Jew, Mary was marginalized with few personal rights and significant obligations to the Roman ruling class. As a woman, Mary was powerless in the face of those who ruled, both the Roman authorities and the Temple leaders who conspired with them…The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in the summer of 2020, along with so many other unjustified killings of unarmed Black Americans, galvanized a wide coalition of Americans to seek equal justice under the law and equal treatment in our society for people of color. We affirm and join the call for justice and equity by the Black Lives Matter movement to ensure that Black lives matter as much as any other life. Our faith in Christ challenges us to stand with Mary in her call for justice for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.

Do you agree with this nontraditional nativity scene?

Any thoughts?

Three Gifts Guaranteed to Give You Christmas Cheer…Even During the Coronavirus Crisis!!!

Hello World,

Hello World,

I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year!” So if your eyes aren’t twinkling like they are Christmas lights, if jingle bells aren’t attached to your ankles or if you are not burping up eggnog, you obviously don’t possess that sometimes elusive Christmas cheer…

I know that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but can I be honest? Sometimes even knowing that isn’t enough to dredge up that Christmas cheer that everyone is supposed to be cloaked in like an expensive heavy coat that you only wear on special occasions…especially during the coronavirus crisis when you also have to wear a mask “everywhere you go.” (To the tune of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”)

Still despite the manufactured Christmas cheer that retailers will lead you to believe can only be bought, I have discovered there are three gifts, not 12, not enough for your whole family or all your network, simply three that will stoke the furnace of genuine Christmas cheer within you…

I don’t know if it is the example of the three Wise Men or because God is the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit or at the suggestion of my favorite author Catherine Marshall, but in my 20s, I decided that in addition to the gifts I would give to my friends and family, I would also give three gifts to Jesus…

Now, how does one go about giving gifts to Jesus? Although I feel His presence with me, I have never seen nor touched Him physically…So how was I supposed to do that? I was led to these three verses below as I came up with a way to give three gifts to Jesus…

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:30

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4

So what do these three verses mean?

1. I was give without expectation of receiving anything back.

2. I was to give to people and or organizations that served “the least of these.”

3. I was to give in secret and not tell a soul.

I have never revealed what I have done before, but since I am writing a post about this, let me share some of the gifts I have given over the years as a testimony to how God has blessed me with authentic Christmas cheer as a result….

There was once a homeless man that I saw every day as I walked from one location to another in downtown Atlanta…All of the store owners on the street were kind to him, and I could see why…He was kind and mannerly and even funny sometimes…I don’t why he was homeless, but he seemed content to live on the street…I thought that since he seemed like he wanted to be on the street, I could at least help keep him warm…I tried to figure out what what size pants the man wore and bought him a pair of jeans (he always had on jeans) and a blanket…When I handed him the wrapped up gift, he seemed not to know what I was handing to him until I explained it was a Christmas gift…Then he smiled…That simple smile made me glow on the inside…

Another year, I decided to volunteer one Saturday at My Sister’s House at the Atlanta Mission…I helped hand out supplies to the women and children who were staying at the shelter…At that particular time in my life, I pretty much hated my job and the fact that I was too poor to move out of my parents’ house…But spending just one Saturday at the shelter showed how much I had to be grateful for…My mom has always told me if you want to feel better, forget about yourself…

And finally another one of my secret three gifts was the doll I gave to a Christmas toy drive one year…although I am not a girly girl, I have always LOVED dolls…I wanted a new doll every  Christmas for years and years…in fact, I used to worry that as a fifth grader, someone at school would find out I still played with dolls and I would be teased…So one year I decided to give the prettiest, most girly, luxurious hair-having doll I could find and afford to a toy drive…I don’t know what girl was the recipient of that doll, but if I have learned anything about God, I know that “every good and perfect gift” comes from Him…I’m sure that the girl who received that doll was the very girl that wished for and deserved that gift…

Although the Christmas countdown has begun,  there is more than enough time to give (and get) Christmas cheer…

Any thoughts?

Seven Reasons I’m Thankful in 2020…My Pandemic Praise!!!

 

Hello World,

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, this post is inspired by a post I saw on Facebook some weeks ago when the person who posted wrote that despite all that has unfolded in this devastating year, there are still some things to be thankful for in 2020. And the person encouraged everyone to comment on how they’ve still been blessed despite it all. I was among those who posted. I only shared one thing on that post, but I have seven to share with you, my dear readers.

1. Although I still wear contacts during the day and glasses at night, as of this year, I have been restored to 20/20 vision! In fact, I wrote a post about it earlier this year. Below is an excerpt of Seven Scriptures to Provide Insight to the Coronavirus Crisis (ODE to 20/20 Vision)

By now you must know that any vision board someone created for 2020 has been totally wrecked. I haven’t had 20/20 vision since before I was in the third grade when I started wearing glasses, but I was among those who decreed and declared that 2020 would be my Year of Perfect Vision. When this Coronavirus Crisis started a month ago or so, I thought my resolution to have 20/20 vision was misguided. But a month later, I see the Good Shepherd is faithful and guiding me (and all y’all)  into perfect vision after all — even if it wasn’t what I thought I saw at the dawn of this New Year. As my hubby shared with me, I do believe individually we will have personal insights, and that there are some collective insights that all of us will share. Read the rest HERE. 

2. Precious family members have been spared of the worst of COVID-19!!! Although I’ve had family members who have suffered from COVID-19 with one even being hospitalized for several days, no family members that I’m aware of, even my elders, have been casualties of coronavirus. This is a sickness you don’t want to experience even if death is not the end result, but I thank God He has seen fit to spare the lives of my family as of now.

3. My hubby and I have continued to work. Many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, but thankfully, my husband and I still have the financial resources to take care of our two-person household. My husband works in healthcare so you would automatically think that designation translates into job security, but many people in healthcare have seen their income adversely affected. For example, I only recently saw the dentist a few weeks ago after having rescheduled an earlier appointment. From what I’ve read, many are still putting off seeing doctors for appointments unrelated to coronavirus for fear they will be exposed while at the doctor’s office.

4. Although I have lost a vital-in-more-way-than-one income opportunity, I have pivoted. Y’all Jamaicans have more than job and I’m no exception. I’ve been teaching group fitness classes twice a week at L.A. Fitness for more than a decade. It was one of my side hustles. But that ended in March. Although I can go back if I like, I don’t feel comfortable at a gym right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m huffing and puffing at the gym as a rule. There is no way that I see avoiding an airborne illness at the gym. That being said, although I miss my class, I’ve been able to keep up my workouts at home and in a nearby park. It’s not the same, but it will do. Most of all, I thank God for the continued health and strength that I enjoy that enables me to workout!

5. I’ve been able to continue to promote the release of my debut novel  Destination Wedding I was just getting into the groove of promoting Destination Wedding when the world shut down. (Have you bought your copy?) Thankfully, as my novel was released in December 2019, I was able to have a book release party at Auburn Avenue Research Library, host a book signing at a local bookstore (Nubian Bookstore) and attend a book club meeting where Destination Wedding was featured before the pandemic was announced. But with the pandemic announcement, many of the events that I was planning had to be reworked or cancelled altogether so I was worried about how I would promote Destination Wedding going forward. Although I still believe that the pandemic had a negative impact on some of my promotion efforts, one benefit of the pandemic was that I was able to meet with several book clubs via Zoom. I’m not sure if I would have been able to do so otherwise. Additionally, I was able to participate in other online events that I may have not have had access to otherwise.

6. I sold my first home during a pandemic! Y’all, when I was 28 years old and a brand new reporter for a small newspaper, God blessed me to buy a townhome although I was making practically $10 a paycheck! I experienced many single girl shenanigans and grew up as a grown woman there. But as I haven’t lived there in a few years now as a married woman, I was grateful to God to be able to pay the mortgage month after month while no longer wanting that debt. At the beginning of the year, I met a realtor Dionne Sanford,  of EXP Realty, who also renovates properties. She told me that if I spent money on renovation, I would get that money back and more in sales. I didn’t want to spend the money and when the pandemic hit, I wondered how I would recoup it since real estate agents including my agent weren’t showing properties in person. But God did as He always does: Showed Up and Showed Out. I sold the property to a young lady who reminded me of myself when I first received the keys to my first adult home. See my pictures from that day above!

7. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have stopped coming by. I apologize to anyone who may be offended, but hubby and I will never be Jehovah’s Witnesses. And even though we have told them this in so many words and have not answered the door sometimes, they have continued to come by our house for some reason. But since this pandemic hit, we haven’t seen them at all…LOL…But I have received two letters from them I must say. I will give them this: they are persistent…

And I have other reasons to be thankful in 2020, but I will stop now to ask you:

What are you thankful for in 2020? Leave a comment and let me know!!!

Any thoughts?