MAY ALL OUR LIVES BE BEACONS OF JUSTICE, PEACE, LOVE AND HOPE!
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary Bradley 2017

DECEMBER 16 & 17 EPITOMIZE WHAT MAKES THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR SUCH A GREAT COMMUNITY!!!

DECEMBER 16: OUR SAVIOUR CENTER'S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY -- I was not in El Monte at 4368 Santa Anita Ave. Saturday morning, but many, many other parishioners were, as witnessed by the comments from Jane Fall, OSC's Executive Director:

"Over 800 children received early Christmas presents at Our Saviour Center's annual Christmas party. In addition to individually wrapped gifts, children were treated to popcorn, cookies, face painting and crafts. A big thank you to Methodist Hospital for providing free blood pressure screening to adults. Once again, COS volunteers became Santa's Elves to make this wonderful party possible. Special thanks to Fr. Gary and Mother Peg Bradley, Fr. Thomas Ni, Will Dumain, Sherm and Marge Telleen, Jerry and Beverly Harris, Lovey Sherman, Roger Cairns, Patti Teele, Kim Sirean, Rex Botengan, Julie Liu, Brenda Maceo and her 2 adult children, Charlotte Van Fleet and granddaughter, Henrietta Ma, Katherine Feng and about ten members of our Chinese congregation, Jane He, Trish Healy, Justin Inda, Tom and Doni Satorhelyi, Yuhadhi and Gabby Sundaramoorthy and their two children and many others. And of course, our wonderful OSC Board members: Russ Case, Jeff and Gavin Ross, John Ballance, Laurel Bullock and Vera Hoalim. A huge thank you to everyone who worked behind the scenes at the gift wrapping party and by donating cookies. Because of everyone's contributions of Time, Talent and Treasure, Our Saviour Center hosted a spirit filled Christmas party again this year, living our mission of 'sharing love, hope and resources with our neighbors in need'." Merry Christmas!

DECEMBER 17: MUSIC FOR A SEASON, A GIFT FROM CANON PHIL SMITH & THE COS CHOIR -- Sunday afternoon the Choir presented "AN ADVENT PROCESSION: A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols", a magnificent contribution to our Advent Season Journey. In addition to the Mighty 22 Voices of the Choir, nine other clergy and parishioners participated as readers -- Joanna Kinsley (Parishioner), Tom Lenzo (Lay Reader), Kim Sirean (Bell Choir), Debbie Andersen (Altar Guild), Phil Gold (Choir), The Rev. Bill Doulos (Jubilee Homes), Katherine Feng (Chinese Congregation), Juli Kennedy (Senior Warden), and The Rev. Gary Bradley (Rector). In addition, Lovey Sherman, assisted by Henrietta Ma and Tom Lenzo and Gary Kinsley, provided a wonderful post performance reception.

By the way, I have commented many times about the different ways parishioners have contributed their Time, Talent and Treasurers to enhancing our collective Journey. A great case in point -- Almost every Sunday Joanna Kinsley, assisted by Gary, is on the Telleen Family Courtyard selling books, the proceeds from which she contributes to the Music For A Season. Don't just walk on by, buy a book!    

BR. DENNIS GIBBS IN THE SAN MARINO TRIBUNE -- A while ago The San Marino Tribune initiated a policy of inviting representatives from the Community Church, St. Edmund's and COS to contribute a column every third week. The December 15 issue contains one from Br. Dennis Gibbs entitled "Christmas Card Grace" in which he discusses delivering hand made cards created by a fifth grade class to people incarcerated in the L.A. County Jails. To characterize his column as moving is a huge understatement; tissues were necessary completing the column. If you are looking for a worthy charity to support before year end, do not forget PRISM.

Speaking of Time, Talent and Treasure, we all at COS should count our blessings for having the Monks of the Community of Divine Love in our lives. Think about it. In addition to dedicating their days to visiting the incarcerated in the jails in L.A. County, they also enhance the Spiritual Journeys of many parishioners, including but not limited to Individual Spiritual Direction, Silent Saturdays, Centering Prayer, Quiet Day Retreats, Gentle Yoga, Sacred Journey Reading Groups, Film & Faith Viewing and Taize Services. The Monks also welcome us all to celebrate Holy Eucharist on Friday mornings at 11:00 in the Monastery chapel and have a simple meal afterward. Finally, they have constructed a Labyrinth which is open every day from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM except Monday. Again, think about how less full life at COS would be without Br. Dennis, Sr. Greta and Sister MJ. Sue and I THANK YOU!!          

THE BAD AND THE GOOD FROM THE HOLY LAND -- 'Tis the season to be jolly but not in the Holy Land. As I have noted in previous BEACONS, I know that some of you do not share our positions vis a vis the Israeli / Palestinian Conflict, and some of you may even be saying "enough is enough". However, if we ever are going to able to get your attention regarding what is going on in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, we believe Advent and your focus on birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem provide us with our best opportunity to educate about the 'other side of the story'.

If you have taken us up and checked out the facebook pages we recommended last week -- +972 Magazine, Palestine Will Be Free, Eye On Palestine, If Americans Knew, EPF Palestine Israel Network or I Do Support Palestine -- you will understand why we are so upset with what is happening in the Holy Land. So, hoping AND praying that the 'spirit' of the season piques your interest, we include below some facts and comments which will further clarify for you what is going on.

PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN THE HOLY LAND SUFFERED MAJOR 'HIT' -- While Christian Zionists and some in the American Jewish community support the President's action, this is not a popular view within the Palestinian Christian denominations or elsewhere around the Middle East. Examples:

    ++ Condemnation from Pope Francis

    ++ West Bank of Bethlehem refuses to welcome V.P. Pence

    ++ Nazareth Mayor cancels all Christmas celebrations in protest

    ++ Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria refuses to meet with Pence in Egypt

    ++ Sheikh Ahmad El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Aznar University, the oldest degree granting university in Egypt and Sunni Islam's most prestigious university, refuses to meet with Pence

    ++ Muslim Key Holder, the Official Custodian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, will not host Pence

    ++ The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem advocate for the maintenance of the status quo

JUST DOWN THE STREET -- Everyone who has made Pilgrimage with us at one time or another has visited the EDUCATIONAL BOOKSHOP located about 300 hundred yards west of St. George's Cathedral and Guest House on Salah Ad-Din Street. It is there that you can get the International Herald Tribune and view the most extensive offering of books, posters and publications on Palestine available anywhere. In addition, the owners are now are serving Arabic coffee both inside and on the sidewalk in front of the shop. Apparently, in these unsettled times, this was too much for the Israeli police to tolerate so this week they 'raided' the sidewalk, rousted the patrons and forcefully removed all of the chairs and tables even though the owner produced the appropriate papers. The only thing missing from replicating another ugly chapter in history was the fact that the police did not throw all of the books into a pile in the middle of the street and set fire to them! How ironic!!!       

"WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? TWELVE POINTS TO PONDER AFTER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S JERUSALEM DECLARATION" by Omid Safi, Director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center --

  1) Religion is part of the story

  2) Religion is nowhere close to being the whole story

  3) We have not always lived like this

  4) President Trump's announcement has a colonial context

  5)The missing piece: Occupation

  6) The so-called "peace process" is a sham

  7) The two-state solution is dead

  8) Christian Zionism

  9) Worldwide Christianity

10) Keep your eyes on who gets to speak

11) How President Trump benefits from this?

12) Where do we go from here? "There are really only two foreseeable options...They both are versions of the one-state solution, but with radically different underpinnings.

    "The first model, the continuation of the status quo, is permanent occupation, permanent oppression, and permanent humiliation. It is the continued creation a de facto apartheid situation in the West Bank and a second tier class of citizenship in Israel for Palestinian citizens ('Arab Israelis').

    "The second option is also a one-state solution, but one that is democratic and just, guaranteeing for all of her citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender the exact same set of rights and responsibilities. In this state, Jews, Muslims, and Christians would all have the same rights in a secular democracy."

"JERUSALEM NEEDS PROTECTION FROM THE BRUTALITY OF ISRAEL" by Nadia Harhash, a Palestinian Muslim Woman (who readily admits on her blog that English is not her preferred language) -- "I'm not sure how to put my feelings towards what is happening in Palestine and in Jerusalem in order. It seems all too frustrating. A state of injustice continues to overrule. However, that country of killing is becoming more visible to be seen. Four, five, six are victims today. The martyrs that were killed in cold blood by Israeli war soldiers. More than three hundred are wounded. And God knows how many are being arrested.

"In Jerusalem the brutality takes different forms of oppression. Horses, beating, hitting violently, lynching and harassing passerbys. We can no longer sit on the stairs of the Damascus gate. These people are just scared to hell from our presence. Or I would say they are full of hatred and rage for our existence.

"Israel continues to prove that occupation can never have a human side. A state of occupation can only be state of terror. Terror is not only wearing explosive belts and a beard killing innocents. Terror is military uniform brutally abusing, breaching, killing unarmed people.

"We in Jerusalem need to be protected from the brutality of this terror state of oppression."

PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER, TOO!

MEANWHILE, IN THE GALILEE GOODNESS REIGNS -- Last Saturday The Rev. Canon Fuad Dagher called us via What's App while he was enjoying a Christmas performance at the Episcopal Cultural Center in Shefa 'Amr. This was the beginning of the Three Day Christmas Celebration in the city, and Fr. Fuad has posted a number of pictures on his facebook page. In contrast to the beatings and killings which the above facebook sites show on a daily basis, his pictures show nothing but JOY! In particular, there is a series of shots showing hundreds of children crowding the protective rail in front of the stage of the Cultural Center trying to see more clearly the entertainers, AND several others showing the city streets brilliantly decorated with colorful umbrellas. Please check out what a city wide, ecumenical celebration of Advent can be. Fr. Fuad believes at least 5,000 visitors came into the city for the first night.

FROM OUR FRIEND THE REV. CANON ED SNIECIENSKI -- "WANT TO KEEP 'CHRIST' IN CHRISTMAS'? FEED THE HUNGRY, COMFORT THE AFFLICTED, LOVE THE OUTCAST, FORGIVE THE WRONGDOER, INSPIRE THE HOPELESS." 

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