Saturday, December 25, 2010

On this Blessed Day Christ the Saviour is Born

The Nativity Pageant held at First Presbyterian Church,
Buffalo, NY last Sunday

On this Blessed Day Christ the Saviour is Born

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon Virgin Mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!

Christ, the Saviour is born

Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night

Son of God, love's pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Written by Austrian priest Father Josef Mohr -

Melody composed by Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859

Wishing you and yours peace on this blessed day.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm.............

AFP – An Emirati man walks past an 11-million-dollar Christmas
tree at the Emirates Palace hotel.

ABU DHABI (AFP) – UAE - (United Arab Emirates) Hotel erects 11-million-dollar Christmas tree. Christmas came in extravagant fashion to the Muslim desert emirate of Abu Dhabi as a glitzy hotel unveiled a bejeweled Christmas tree valued at more than 11 million dollars .

Called the most expensive Christmas tree ever, with a value of over 11 million dollars. The 13-metre (40-foot) faux evergreen, located in the gold leaf-bedecked rotunda of the hotel, is decorated with silver and gold bows, ball-shaped ornaments and small white lights.

But the necklaces, earrings and other jewelry draped around the tree's branches are what give it a record value.

It holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones.

The tree itself is about 10,000 dollars. The jewelry has a value of over 11 million dollars.

This will probably be an entry into the Guinness book of world records. The Emirates Palace Hotel plans to contact the organization about the tree which is to stay until the end of the year.

The Emirates Palace Hotel is a massive, dome-topped hotel sitting amid fountains and carefully manicured lawns. The hotel, which bills itself as seven-star recently introduced a package for a seven-day stay priced at one million dollars.


When I read this article in the news this week I found myself experiencing several emotions. Such opulence during times when so many people around the world are suffering from a lack of basic needs such as housing, water and food, is hard to think about.

I could only think of a statement that Arsenio Hall made famous:

"Things that make you go Hmmmm."


Thursday, December 16, 2010

If It Is Thursday It's Going Green - Holiday Gift Giving

If you plan to reduce your holiday shopping here are some additional suggestions for last minute gifts that you could give.

Make your gift count by making it thoughtful and of benefit to the environment. Keep it simple. One thoughtful gift is better than many wrapped packages of unwanted gifts.

An Ecological Friendly Gift List

1. Create gift certificate coupons for a massage, spring-cleaning, child minding, pet sitting, manicure, etc. Offer your talents, such as photography, financial planning, or hairstyling.

2. Make dinner for someone or cook and deliver it to them. Create a menu of various culinary delights (e.g., Tantalizing Thai, Mexican Fiesta, etc.) and have the gift recipient choose one of the options.

3. Collect meaningful photos for the gift recipient, make color photocopies and create a collage or a photo album. Make a calendar for the coming year using your own photographs.

4. Write and illustrate a book for the young people in your life

5. Give the gift of ‘time’. Promise to do something exciting and challenging together (e.g., long walk, bike ride, hike, art course). It is important that the date and time be arranged and that you follow through on this.

6. Compile a list of memories and arrange them in a creative fashion.

7. Videotape and interview your elderly parents (or other family members) about childhood memories, how they met, etc., and give to siblings or children.

8. Frame a piece of your artwork.

9. Make a mixed cassette tape and choose songs that make you think of that person. Under each title, explain why you chose that song.

10. Give away a valued possession.

11. Make a calendar with pictures of family members and/or scenery.

12. For the elderly people in your life, research newspaper and magazine articles from their youth and present in a creative fashion.

13. Collect quotes that make you think of someone.

14. Purchase gifts at a fair-trade shop, or gently used items at a garage sale or thrift shop.

15. Buy a used book and in the inside cover explain why you chose the book for that person.

16. Give a membership or donate in the name of a friend to an organization working in a subject area of interest to them.

17. Give an experience such as tuition for an unusual class. For kids, consider giving an environmental excursion, like a whale-watching or camping trip.

18. Help someone start a garden. Give seeds and tools. Help plant, weed, and water.

19. Plant a tree in someone's name.

20. Create a recipe book from the favorites you’ve collected.

Happy Holidays to you. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Snowy Day In Buffalo

Today it was snowing in Buffalo

I took a walk around my neighborhood and enjoyed the
beauty of a new snowfall

The house across the street from me - the garland around the door is lit up at night
and it is so pretty - I can see it from my bedroom window.

The snow on this bush resembles a cotton plant

A view of the street that I live on

The little park on the corner

The entrance way to my house

St. Francis of Assisi now lives in Buffalo - next to my front door

A walk around the neighborhood on a snowy day always refreshes my spirits.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

If It Is Thursday It's Going Green - Holiday Season

Remember the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

Plan to purchase a living Christmas tree with roots attached. Later you can plant it in your yard or donate it to your local parks department. If it’s a cut tree, recycle it. Shred the live tree and use the mulch in the garden around evergreen shrubs and trees.

If purchasing new holiday lights, consider seasonal light emitting diode, or LED, strings of lights. These can use up to 95 percent less energy than conventional bulbs, and they last seven times longer than traditional bulbs. Using holiday lighting wisely can lower power consumption. Timers and photo cells can also help reduce power usage by turning the lights on at dusk and turning them off at a desired time. Avoid leaving lights on all night. More strings of lights means more energy used. Try reducing the number of strings of lights this season. Tinsel can be used to amplify lighting.

Be financially responsible - Overspending during the holidays will not only increase your stress now, but will leave you feeling anxious for months afterward as you struggle to pay the bills. Step back from the excessive gift-giving and practice simplicity, creativity and basic human kindness.

Be creative - The amount of household garbage in the U.S. increases by about one million tons of rubbish between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the EPA, and much of that is packaging. If you are mailing gifts, use recycled packing materials like newspaper and cardboard (please, no Styrofoam packing peanuts!). Shiny, metallic and plastic-coated wrapping paper can’t be reused or recycled, but there are lots of wrapping papers and ribbons that are made of 100 percent recycled waste, and gift bags are a great reusable option. If you are feeling creative, think outside the box that is being wrapped. You can use old maps, the comic section of the newspaper, magazines, wallpaper, Christmas cards, crossword puzzles, posters, sheet music, or children's artwork. Or use a scarf, an attractive dishtowel, bandana, or some other useful cloth item. If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Add organic and local foods to your holiday feast. - Support local family farmers who grow sustainable meat and produce. Not only does it taste better, you'll be doing your part for the planet too. Ask around to find out where to get local green products in your neighborhood.

Donate your time or money to an environmental group. Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering! There are countless ways to help improve your community—and the planet—from cleaning up a local river to helping inner city children experience the outdoors for the first time. Contact your local Sierra Club to find out about volunteer opportunities near you. A donation in honor of a loved one can also be a special holiday gift.

Don’t forget – "together we can make a difference!"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On This Date In History - December 8th

I was just browsing the web and came across this interesting information about December 8th - thought I would share it with you.

1776 George Washington's retreating army crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War.

1863 President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan for the Reconstruction of the South.

1886 The American Federation of Labor was founded in Columbus, Ohio.

1925 Sammy Davis Jr., the American performer famous for his singing, dancing and comedy routines , was born. He died on May 16, 1990.

1941 The United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

1980 Rock musician John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by Mark David Chapman. The former Beatle was 40.

1987 Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories began an uprising.

1987 President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

1991 Russia, Belarus and Ukraine declared the Soviet national government dead, forming a new Commonwealth of Independent States.

1992 Americans saw live TV coverage of U.S. troops landing on the beaches of Somalia as Operation Restore Hope began.

1993 President Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

How much we tend to forget when we are busy with our day to day activities in life. Will today be an important date in history? As they say - "only time will tell."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards - 12/7/10 - may she rest in peace.

Elizabeth Edwards
courage, dignity, a class act,
may she rest in peace

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to Dave Brubeck - 90 Today - A Class Act

I was first introduced to Dave Brubeck’s music many years ago when he appeared on stage in London. I was a teenager at the time and I became an instant fan. I have since heard him play at the Newport, Rhode Island Jazz Festival, Tanglewood Massachusetts Jazz Weekend, the Litchfield Connecticut Jazz Festival, the Montreal Canada Jazz Festival, and in Detroit, California, and Germany.

As I write this I am wondering just how many miles he has travelled in his lifetime. He has appeared in just about every country, state and province.

Born on December 6, 1920 Dave Brubeck grew up on a 45,000-acre ranch in California, the son of a music teacher and a cattle rancher.

He and his two older brothers studied piano with their mother, the future jazz pianist initially didn't take lessons for very long. He quit when he was 11 to focus on his first love: rodeo roping. But his mother, who thought he was talented at the piano, wouldn't allow him to rope anything larger than a yearling because she didn't want his fingers to become hurt.

Brubeck resumed studying the piano after his first year of college. During those college years he had a whirlwind courtship. He had promised his mother that he would go to at least one dance with a young lady. Since he didn’t have much interest in going, he got his friends to set him up with the smartest girl they could find. As Brubeck later reminisced, his reasoning was, “If I’ve got to go to this dance, I at least want it to be interesting.” They found a smart coed named Iola Whitlock who agreed to be Brubeck’s date.

You’d think a jazzman would be crazy about dancing, but Dave and Iola spent most of the evening chatting in his car. By the time the dance was over, the couple had decided to get engaged. He and Iola have been married since 1942 and have six children. She serves as his manager, lyricist, and occasional writing partner.

Brubeck met some of the musicians with whom he'd later make history while playing in the A.S. Army Band, which took him out of Patton's force during World War II.

He performed at the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and later that year Dave Brubeck's band was selected as the year's best instrumental group. That same year he became the second jazz musician ever featured on the cover of Time Magazine (the first being Louie Armstrong).

Brubeck represented something else in jazz -- a studious, serious musician and family-oriented man; he moved to Connecticut in 1960 to raise his family. He was a player who avoided the clichés of drugs and dissipation often associated with jazz musicians.

Despite his lessons as a child, he couldn't read music. His biggest hit album, "Time Out," is dedicated to that proposition, and its biggest hit, "Take Five," took its name from its unusual 5/4 time signature.

After breaking up his quartet in the 1970’s, he not only let his hair grow but he expanded his ambitions, composing orchestral and choral works. Eventually he brought back the quartet sound as well, in a group that most recently included sax player Bobby Militello, bassist Michael Moore and drummer Randy Jones.

Last year he became a Kennedy Center Honoree and he was delighted at the sight of his four grown sons, Darius, Dan, Chris and Matthew, who played his music onstage at the award.

He continues to perform and compose, and has played more than 50 concerts this year alone.

Dave Brubeck, designated a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, continues to be one of the most active and popular musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. With a career that spans over six decades, his experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrhythm and polytonality remain hallmarks of innovation. He celebrates his 90th birthday today - TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has devoted the entire daytime schedule in celebration of his birthday.

Happy birthday Mr. Brubeck from a longtime fan and admirer.

You are a class act!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

U,S, Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan - 5,843

The Human Cost of Occupation

U.S. Military Casualties in Iraq since War Began (3/19/03)



320,000 Vets Have Brain Injuries

War Veteran's Concussions Are Often Overlooked

18 Veteran Suicides Per Day

Other Coalition Troops - Iraq


US Military Deaths - Afghanistan


Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan


Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq


Journalists - Iraq


Thursday, December 2, 2010

If It Is Thursday It's Going Green - Holiday Giving

Remember the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

As we approach the Holiday season and are caught up in the hustle and bustle of activities, try to be thoughtful about energy saving purchases.

Going green is the way to go when planning gifts. -When you give someone a “green gift” it means you went the extra distance for someone and for everyone - It means you have taken the time to consider the environment. -It means you have given a gift that shows something about you - and it means you have created a ripple effect whose final result is too significant to calculate.

1. Make a gift from scratch. Making a personal effort to create something is always appreciated. Be conscious of the materials you choose and create something to show someone you care. Picture frames and mirrors are perennial favorites and people tend to keep them.

2. Buy a gift that adds a lasting element to someone’s life. Buying a houseplant or a live organic herb garden are wonderful gifts, which live on and bring joy (and oxygen) into someone’s home. Buy a calendar printed on 100% recycled paper with daily affirmations and uplifting quotes. These will remain with the person for a year at least, and can make a difference everyday.

3. Buy a stress-reducing present for someone. Get your best friend a gift certificate for a one-hour massage, facial or acupuncture treatment. How about a free week of yoga classes, Pilates or personal training sessions? You will be doing more for the recipient of these gifts than initially meets the eye.

4. Give to a charity. Instead of giving something directly, consider giving to a charity on behalf of a friend or family member. Many charities now allow you to track the progress being made as the result of your contribution. By doing this you are setting up a powerful connection for someone that can go way beyond a simple donation.

5. Buy something educational and entertaining.A book, CD or DVD can make a fantastic present especially when the content is uplifting.

Don’t forget, “together we can make a difference!”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

115th Annual YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo NY

One of Western New York’s most treasured events, the YMCA Turkey Trot brings together more than 12,000 runners of all ages and levels every Thanksgiving morning for a holiday celebration like no other.

Established in 1896, this 8K race marked its 115th start on Thanksgiving morning, making it the oldest continually running footrace in North America (even older than the Boston Marathon)

(photos from the Buffalo News)
Every Thanksgiving morning when most people are still sleeping or many are starting to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, thousands of runners gather downtown Buffalo for the annual Turkey Trot run. It is an incredible sight to behold so many people who are taking the time out for an annual benefit run. Each year more people show up than are actually registered.
Immediately followed by a post-race celebration and awards ceremony that plays host to more than 14,000 runners, spectators and volunteers.

Another aspect of Buffalo that I really love when Buffalonians gather together -
they call this the city of Good Neighbors and it really is.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving To All

All Shall Be Well

For the greening of trees
and the gentling of friends,
we thank you, God.
For the brightness of field
and the warmth of the sun,
we thank you, God.
For work to be done
and laughter to share,
we thank you, God.
We thank you, and know
that through struggle and pain,
in the slippery path of new birth,
hope will be born
and all shall be well.

from "The Pattern of Our Days:
Worship in the Celtic Tradition from the Iona Community"


Happy Thanksgiving to You!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Full Moon of November 2010 - Another Blue Moon

In the Native American culture this evening’s full moon is known as the Beaver Moon. This indicates that it is time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation is that the name comes from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter.

This moon has also been called Mourning Moon and the Hunters' Moon. With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, also other animals, which have come out to glean and can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.

The full moon that you will see this evening looks like an ordinary full moon, but it is actually a bit extraordinary—it is also a blue moon.

What is a Blue Moon?

There are two definitions for a blue moon. According to modern folklore, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. February is the only month that can never have a blue moon.

Here are the facts. Generally, there are only three full moons in any one season. Three in summer, three in autumn … you get the idea. So today’s full moon is a Blue Moon. It’s the third of the season’s four full moons.

Almanac makers like to give each full moon a name, depending on where the full moon falls relative to the year’s two equinoxes and two solstices. But when a single season presents four full moons, the extra full moon complicates the otherwise ordered nomenclature of full moons. It is easier for almanac makers to call the third – rather than the fourth – full moon a Blue Moon.

When you hear someone say "Once in a blue moon" you know that they are usually talking about something rare or unusual.

The term 'blue moon' dates back at least 400 years. Does the blue moon actually turn blue? No. Blue moons are rare, and that's where the phrase "once in a blue moon" comes from. There are occasions though when pollution in the Earth's atmosphere can make the moon look particularly bluish. The extra dust scatters blue light.

How Often Does a Blue Moon Occur? - Over the next 20 years there will be about 15 blue moons, with an almost equal number of both types of blue moons occurring. No blue moon of any kind will occur in the years 2011, 2014, and 2017.

Blue moon myths runs wild - Today’s Blue Moon definition comes from old editions of the Maine Farmer’s Almanac.

Ancient cultures around the world considered the second full moon to be spiritually significant.

Today’s November full moon is a Blue Moon. It isn’t blue in color. It’s only blue in name – at least, by one definition. Tonight’s moon is the third of four full moons in a season.

Just relax and enjoy. Watch as this November Blue Moon – the third of the season’s four full moons – shines boldly from dusk until dawn!

Yes. Tonight’s November full moon is a Blue Moon. It isn’t blue in color. It’s only blue in name – at least, by one definition.

So, heads up - enjoy this gift of Mother Nature tonight.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reflection - World Kindness Day

Yesterday was World Kindness Day.

Those who observed it had a great time doing little acts of kindness to family, friends and complete strangers. Some who were in a drive through food or coffee line gave the cashier extra money to pay for the items of the people who were in the car behind them. Or paid the other person's toll while driving through toll booths. One lady purchased 6 bunches of flowers and took them to the Emergency Room at her local hospital and gave them to the Nurses who were on duty.

You get the idea. What if we all took one day to practice random acts of kindness? What if it became a way of life for us? It doesn't have to cost money. You could shovel the driveway of an elder, or pick up their groceries from the store. You could give a ride to a member of your place of worship who has to walk there in the inclement weather. How about donating food to the local food pantry?

What does the Bible tells us about 'kindness'?

Here are ten great Bible verses for World Kindness Day

(a day to practice random acts of kindness).

1. “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25)

2. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

3. This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

4. “[God] has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17)

5. “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” (Romans 2:4)

6. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

7. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

8. “… the incomparable riches of [God's] grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)

9. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

10. “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

(compiled by Pastor Ray Fowler)

So here is your call for this week:


Friday, November 12, 2010

Birthday Greetings to Baha’u’llah - the founder of the Baha’i Faith.

Seat of the Universal House of Justice,

governing body of the Bahá'ís, in Haifa, Israel

Greetings to my friends who are members of the Bahá’í International Community.

Today Bahá'ís observe the anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah (born Mirza Husayn-‘Ali) on Nov. 12, 1817, in Tehran, Persia (now Iran).

The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Baha’u’llah in nineteenth-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories.

The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Bahá'í teachings.

Unity of God

Unity of religion

Unity of humankind

Equality between men and women

Elimination of all forms of prejudice

World peace

Harmony of religion and science

Independent investigation of truth

Universal compulsory education

Universal auxiliary language

Obedience to government and non-involvement in partisan politics unless submission to law amounts to a denial of Faith.

Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty

Baha’u’llah, which means the “Glory of God,” is the founder of the Baha’i Faith. It is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.


Over the years I have been invited to many Bahá'í ‘firesides' and have formed friendships with some of the kindest people I know. I have also co-conducted many 'Healing of Racism' workshops with members of the Bahá'í faith whose main goals in life are that people live peacefully and give each other the respect that they deserve. My sentiments exactly!