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Tag Archive | "Christmas"

Let’s keep Advent


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor 

St. John Paul II Parish 

3110 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

(616) 696-3904

 

Sunday, December 3, marks the season of Advent and the beginning of the Church’s new liturgical year. The word Advent comes from the Latin word “ad-venire,” which means “to come to.” 

“Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.” (See Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and Calendar, no. 39). 

In our culture of instant gratification, there seems to be no room for such a period of devout and joyful preparation as the liturgies of the Church suggest. But as people of faith, the Parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us; unless we are prudent (carrying a lamp with enough oil while awaiting the bridegroom) we are not suitable for the Feast (Mt 25:1-13). Unless we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord, whether in the celebration of Christmas or at the end of time, we will not be prepared to enter the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Or, as Matthew 22: 11-13 indicates: we might enter, but not with the proper attire for the Feast. 

“Prepare the way of the Lord” is the exhortation that is properly applied to all of us as we celebrate Advent! Concretely, how should we keep advent? As the voice of one crying out in the desert indicates, “Make straight his paths!” (Mk 1:2). We make our paths straight by removing the obstacles in our hearts that separate us from God. Those obstacles can be sinful acts and unhealthy attachments to the “stuff” we accumulate in this life that consumes our hearts and souls, leaving no room for God. 

Let this Advent be unlike any other! Let us be like the five wise virgins with lamps filled with oil to await our Redeemer, Christ the Lord! Amen. 

(In addition to being the priest of St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street Sand Lake, Michigan 49343. Phone 616 636 5671)

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Sand Lake to host live nativity


 

The indoor live nativity at Sand Lake United Methodist will take you through the town of Bethlehem on the day Jesus was born, with actors of all ages dressed as various characters. Courtesy photo

By Judy Reed

Shepherds from a past nativity. Courtesy photo.

If you’d like to experience a fun family activity to celebrate Christmas that’s a little different this year, head to Sand Lake and experience the entire town of Bethlehem on the day Jesus was born through their live nativity.

The event will be held at Sand Lake United Methodist Church this weekend on Friday, December 1, from 6-8 p.m., and Saturday, December 2, from 1-3 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall.

As you walk through the nativity, actors will reenact the story. You will see shepherds watching their flocks; soldiers registering people for the census; people peddling wares; angels singing; wise men searching for the Christ child; Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. Real live animals will greet you, and a real baby will play the part of Jesus. Visitors can also enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the courtyard area.

This is the 5th year for the event, which was originally created and put on by South Ensley and Sand Lake United Methodist Churches, and now includes cast members from many of the village churches and even some that aren’t members. 

“The program takes about 30 people and we love having visitors,” said Sandra McConnell, who decorates and does publicity for the nativity. She said over 100 people walked through the live nativity last year, and they are hoping for more this year.

McConnell said that they got the idea for the live nativity when they saw one in Coopersville several years ago. “We went through it, and decided we wanted to do something like that,” she explained. Little by little, people came forward to help to make it into the event it is today. “We’ve added a lot in the last four years,” she added.

If there is anyone else who would like to be part of the nativity, you can call Sandra at 616-570-8713. 

 

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Post to collect toys for needy


 

Would you like to do something special for families in need this Christmas? You can partner with us to provide toys for needy children in Kent County. The Post is participating in the Toys for Tots program again this holiday season, as a drop off site for toys. Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are always especially needed.

Cedar Springs Wireless Zone, 4021 17 Mile Rd, and Independent Bank, 4115 17 Mile Rd, are also collecting Toys for Tots.

“We have been participating in the Toys for Tots campaign for the past four years,” said Renee Doren, general manager at Cedar Springs Wireless Zone. “The community support last year was our largest yet as we had a couple of boxes full of toys.”

Doren feels it’s important to give back to the community. “Being in a small town like Cedar Springs, there is such great community support for events like these and giving back and pulling together when needed.”

The program runs now through December 19. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to any of the businesses mentioned. If you’d like to bring one to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, we are open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.

Visit https://grand-rapids-mi.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx to find a drop off location near you.

Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

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Post to collect toys for needy


Would you like to do something special for families in need this Christmas? You can partner with us to provide toys for needy children in Kent County. The Post is participating in the Toys for Tots program again this holiday season, as a drop off site for toys. 

Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are always especially needed.

The program runs now through December 18. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.

Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

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Grant woman dies in crash


Christina Perales, 35, died in two-vehicle crash last weekend. Photo from the gofundme page set up to provide food, clothing and Christmas for her boys.

Christina Perales, 35, died in two-vehicle crash last weekend. Photo from the gofundme page set up to provide food, clothing and Christmas for her boys.

A 35-year-old Grant woman died last weekend when the car she was driving collided with a pickup truck.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred about 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, December 17 in Alpine Township.

The investigation showed that a 2015 Ford F150 pickup truck was headed westbound on 6 Mile Rd NW, and a 2002 Chevy Malibu was headed south on Baumhoff when they crashed. Police said it was undetermined if the Grant woman, the driver of the Chevy Malibu, had rolled through the stop sign, or made a complete stop and then pulled out into the intersection. The pickup truck had the right of way.

The driver of the Malibu, Christina Lenora Perales, 35, of Grant, died at the scene. The front seat passenger, Brent Thomas Aishe, 39, of Grant was taken to Spectrum Butterworth with serious injuries, including a broken left hip, cranial bleed, and abrasions on his elbow. One of the back seat passengers, Melinda Marie Lynch, 20, of Fremont was taken to Butterworth laceration to her forehead. The other back seat passenger, Dylan Rogers, 17, of Grant, was taken to Butterworth with a cranial bleed.

There were three occupants in the pickup truck, all from Essexville, Mich. The driver, Brent Joseph Raap, 45, was not injured. Passenger Benjamin Matthew Raap, 15, sustained a minor injury and was taken to the hospital by private transport, where he was treated and released. The third passenger, Judith Louis Mcelhinny-Raap, 45, was not injured.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Assisting at the scene was the Walker Police Department, Alpine Fire Department, Walker Fire Department, Aeromed, LIFE, Rockford, and AMR ambulance services.

The crash is still under investigation.

Christina was a single mom, and there is a gofundme page set up to help with food, clothes, and Christmas for her three boys. Go to https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-these-boys.

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Drive sober or get pulled over


car-drive-sober

From Dec. 15, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017, officers from police departments, Sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police will step up drunk driving enforcement across the state as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. There were 17 traffic fatalities during the 2015 Christmas and 2015/2016 New Year’s holidays. Alcohol is believed to be involved in seven of the fatal crashes. This holiday, don’t drive if you’re Tipsy, Buzzed, or Blitzen. Get a sober ride or call a cab.

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Post to collect toys for needy


n-toys-for-tots-poster

n-toys-for-tots-trainlogoWould you like to do something special for families in need this Christmas? You can partner with us to provide toys for needy children in Kent County. The Post is participating in the Toys for Tots program again this holiday season, as a drop off site for toys.

Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are always especially needed.

The program runs now through December 14. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.

Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

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A Merry Christmas and a Holy Year of Mercy


Merciful-artFather Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, Michigan
www.jp2-mqa.org

This Christmas is a unique one for Catholics throughout the world. This is due to the fact that the spiritual leader, Pope Francis, declared an Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy from December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016. This is a “special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective” (Misericordiae Vultus, no. 3). In other words, the Pope calls upon Catholics and men and women of good will to see in Jesus, the Mercy of God made flesh and challenges us to engage in the works of mercy in our everyday lives. “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities” (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2447).

The theme, contemplating Jesus, Mercy of God made flesh, is clearly expressed in the logo of the Jubilee.  The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization explains:

“The logo . . . presents . . . the theme of mercy. In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.”

In this blessed season, indeed we celebrate that God showed us His love in a very special way:  sending His Son “in the likeness of our sinful flesh” (Rm 8:3).  Through this Mercy of God “made flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14), may our entire life be the praise of God’s mercy.

Have a blessed 2016 and may you and your family be transformed in this Jubilee Year by God’s merciful love!  Amen.

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Glory to God and peace to men


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, MI 49345

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

This passage of scripture in Luke 2 is one of the most read verses in the bible this time of year. There is so much here, it is often easy to overlook the powerful, yet simple message of Christmas found in these verses! We see from this passage, the angel’s message was one of good news about a specific day in history, in a specific city, about a real Savior, who is Christ the Lord. While this news was being proclaimed, immediately there was a response from heaven. The heavenly response declared two very distinct purposes that God had for sending Jesus to earth.

The first was to declare the Glory of God. Notice it took one angel to announce the savior’s birth, but a multitude joined with the angel to praise God! This word multitude is a military term, also translated host. It meant an army. An army of angels came to sing and proclaim God’s glory. It signified how important this event in history was. It signified how important this Savior was. It was a life-changing event that would forever change the course of history. What did it mean? What did it proclaim? It proclaimed how much God loved the world. We are reminded in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son…” It declared to all of humanity that God alone deserves all our praise. It was intended to grab all of man’s attention and direct it to the one who was worthy to receive it, Jesus Christ! Christmas is designed and celebrated to turn the world’s attention to Jesus.

Secondly, the multitude of angles declared that peace was now available to all mankind, through this sign, this Savior—Jesus Christ. Often, we declare this peace, at Christmas, as a universal one. Meaning everyone can have peace on earth. This is true, but only to a degree. Meaning, this peace is available to everyone on earth, but only to those on “whom God’s favor” rests. Who may that be, you ask? God’s favor rests on those who receive Jesus Christ as savior, as the one who forgives us of our sin; as the Christ, the one who provides hope; as Lord, the one who defeats our enemies and makes us secure; and the one who provides us peace. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself (Jesus) is our peace…” In the current days we are living in, everyone is ultimately looking for and pursuing peace in their own ways. We would love to see the world at peace with each other. However, apart from Jesus Christ this will never occur. Christmas says that Christ is the answer for peace in the world. That’s why many are anti-Christmas. They ultimately are opposing Christ. The message of Christmas to the whole world is that there is peace through a relationship with Jesus Christ! The angels sang and declared this good news of peace. The greatest gift this Christmas is personal peace with God through Jesus Christ. Will you receive it?

Merry Christmas! Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men!

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A Giving Heart


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Christmas is quickly approaching and for many it is a celebration where family and friends spend time together as they recognize the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This time of year we are reminded of those in need and who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is wonderful that we have concern of those people in need, however, we often times become satisfied with solely having sincere thoughts or sharing kind words. While these are good things, we often fail to fulfill any actual giving or physical assistance to those same individuals. The Bible describes this very concept in James 2:15-16.

When we think of being selfish or greedy, we tend to think of mean spirited people who are engrossed in themselves and their needs and not of the needs of others. While there are people in this world who exhibit this Scrooge-type personality, the truth is, all of us demonstrate some greed and have self-centered tendencies. This tendency can get in the way of our willingness to give or to help those in need. The Bible tells us the importance of helping others throughout the scriptures including Proverbs 21:13, Proverbs 28:27 and in the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).

Why is God so concerned about us giving to and helping others? God tells us in Genesis 1:27:So God created man in His own image. This indicates that we are to be like God and to take on His traits. To be like God is to give. Our God is a giver and that’s apparent in the scriptures.  However, the most important thing God gave came around 2,000 years ago. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Bible also tells us to be Christ-like (Philippians 2:1-3). When we read the Gospels, you will see Christ consistently helping those in need. Therefore, God wants us to give in order that we may be like Him. The Bible tells us that a “giving spirit” cannot be forced; it is something that must come from the heart and should be an enjoyable act from within (2 Corinthians 9:7).

This time of year we are reminded to give to those in need. The concept of giving should not just be contemplated around Christmas. It should continue throughout our entire life, in order that a Giving Spirit may take over. When we become focused on being a Giver instead of a Receiver, it will change our life forever. Giving is something God intended for us to do to others just as He does for us when we face adversity. The Bible tells us that if we give like Him, we will be blessed for it (Proverbs 22:9).

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