Saturday, December 17, 2011


It's December and there is something in the air. People clump together and talk. Strangers share stories with each other. I love this time of year because it is so easy to be open with others. There is something in the air that makes us want to get closer to each other. From where ever we are, or aren't with God, we have an openness that wasn't there before. Our hearts are more open this time of year. We aren't so self-focused. We hear music that brings a smile.
I was at a local store and an older man was buying a musical Santa Claus because it brought back memories. Young families are creating memories for their little ones with the Christmas Tree, food, presents. And for a child, the presents are the thing.

Well, let's admit it, we all get a little closer to being children when we see a wrapped present and wonder what inside. It is a time of year when WONDER wins over cynicism. It is a time of year when LOVE has a chance. People discover each other. People discover God. Churches get crowded.

What a wonderful time of the year. There is something in the air. And yes, that something, is real. As I was setting up the Nativity Scene this year, I had a moment of panic. There was Mary, Joseph, the manger, a few animals but where was the baby? I started to look.

It seems to me that the baby of Christmas is largely missing this year. Early shopping. Economic panic. To do lists. General business and stress have away of keeping The BABY out of Christmas.

I overheard a mother saying that she couldn't put up any Christmas decorations at her house because her daughter was using the house for a friend's baby shower and she didn't want the DECORATIONS to detract from the shower. Why would Christmas decorations detract? They did not seem important to their daughter. Did they embarrass her? Did she not know that there was ANOTHER BABY more important than her friend's coming child?

Is Christmas just decorations? Is Christmas just a family gathering? Are Christmas just presents for each other? I give you something and you give me something. Where is the Baby? We have to look.

Those who were in Bethlehem didn't know there were THE BABY, the Savior, the Good News, and the Branch of Righteousness right in their little town. They were involved in the tourists, the taxation.  The shepherds heard the message.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

They went to look. They found what they told was true and went back to work, filled with JOY. Don't be distracted and miss the real Christmas. I found the missing babe. Christmas isn't Christmas without Jesus in the manger and us drawing near to see the miracle that has happened.
 Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Personal Appeal

I want to make a personal appeal today for our non-camp work. We have acted as a catalyst to get a September to June tutoring program at place at Verbo Church in Redwood City. Twenty children now get tutoring in math, English and Bible two days a week. These children are little children. They are in first to fifth grade.

ALL OF THESE CHILDREN ARE AT RISK because of poverty. First, there is the poverty of no one to help them at home with their homework. Second, there is the poverty of just not enough money. These families struggle year round and could not pay for any tutoring help.

The children last year all improved in their school work. Children are recommended by the local schools to the progam BECAUSE THEY ARE IN DANGER OF FLUNKING OUT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. They need one to one remedial work to come up to their grade level.

Thanks to the generous grant from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church we opened this program and are in our second year. However, the children need more one to one help than anticipated and we appeal to you who read this to send a contribution. One hour costs $10. Your gift helps two ways. We are expanding the program by using teens from our summer camp and you will give a child a chance to learn the basics.

Let's remember that God loves the children and is a "father to the fatherless". Can you help?
Please mark memo of your check: tutor-me program and send to "As you have done it unto one of these little ones, you have done it unto me."

Box 2735
Menlo Park, CA. 94026