For unto Us a Child is born
Unto Us a Son is given
And the government shall be upon His shoulder
And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
- Isaiah 9:6
Merry Christmas, dear readers. Hope the day and the new year bring you all peace, love, and joy.
A steady stream of worshippers braved the cold and rain on Sunday to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, where spirits were lifted by the largest turnout of foreign pilgrims in years. Despite the foul weather, Bethlehem residents had reason to smile. About 30,000 pilgrims converged on the birthplace of Jesus for Christmas celebrations this year, Israeli officials said, about twice as many as last year and by far the highest turnout since fighting broke out in September 2000.
Although the crowds are still a fraction of the peak years in the mid- the influx of tourists reflected the improved security situation. Israel and the Palestinians declared a cease-fire last February, bringing a sharp drop in bloodshed. Israel’s recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip also has buoyed spirits.
In Christmas messages, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders both expressed wishes for peace in 2006.
Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the top Roman Catholic envoy in the Holy Land, spoke of the new atmosphere in the air in his midnight Mass address and urged both sides to put a final end to violence.
“There seems to be a new Palestinian and Israeli political reality, despite the many complications and hesitations that surround it,” Sabbah said. “Leaders with good and honest intentions can make of this new era a time of new blessings … stopping the past to make room for a new future begin.”
This year’s festivities brought a long-missing sense of holiday cheer to Bethlehem. For the first time in six years, restaurants were crowded, souvenir sales were brisk and hotels were full of tourists…
Pope Benedict XVI offered a Christmas prayer for peace in the Holy Land on Sunday and made a special mention of children, including the unborn, as he led his first midnight Mass in the splendor of St. Peter’s Basilica. Benedict’s reference to the unborn in his homily was a clear reference to the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion.
“God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable and come to us as a defenseless child, so that we can love him,” Benedict said, referring to the birth of Jesus. He said that “something of the splendor” of Christmas “shines on every child, even on those still unborn.” Reading his homily slowly, Benedict stressed the word “every” in his reference to children.
“On this night, when we look toward Bethlehem, let us pray in a special way for the birthplace of our Redeemer and for the men and women who live and suffer there,” the pope said. “We wish to pray for peace in the Holy Land.”
Grieving relatives gathered on beaches and at mass graves Sunday to remember the 216,000 killed or missing one year after a mammoth earthquake unleashed a tsunami that crashed into coastlines from Asia to Africa. Western tourists who survived the disaster were among those grieving in Thailand for family and friends who did not. In India, children dressed in white marched down a street where thousands were washed away.
And people in hardest-hit Indonesia flocked to one of the disaster’s most horrific sites _ a grave that holds almost 47,000 bodies, dumped three-deep in pits that were hastily dug in the days that followed the Dec. 26 tsunami…
From President Bush’s Saturday radio address:
At Christmas, we give thanks for the gift of the birth of Christ, and for the blessings that surround us every day of the year. In this great and prosperous land, we have so much to be thankful for, and Christmas reminds us of our obligation to share these blessings with others. There are many among us who are hurting and require a helping hand. In the new year, I hope Americans will look for ways to volunteer your time and talents where they are needed most. By reaching out to a neighbor in need, we make our nation a more just and compassionate place.
This Christmas, we remember our fellow citizens who suffered from the hurricanes and other disasters that struck our nation this past year. We pray for their strength as they continue to recover and rebuild their lives and their communities.
During the holiday season and throughout the year, we think with pride of the men and women of our Armed Forces, who are keeping our nation safe and defending freedom around the world. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, they are protecting our liberty by spreading liberty to others, and all Americans are grateful to our troops for their courage and commitment.
We’re also grateful to their families. Staying behind when a family member goes to war is a heavy burden — and it’s particularly hard at Christmas. We pray for our military families; we ask Almighty God to bestow His protection and care on their loved ones as they protect our nation from grave dangers.
We also remember the heroic men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom. We pray that God will comfort the loved ones they left behind. The sacrifices of these brave troops have rescued millions from lives of tyranny and sorrow, and made America more secure. We will always cherish the memory of each of our fallen servicemen and women, and count it a privilege to be citizens of the country they served.
The times we live in have brought many challenges to our country. And at such times, the story of Christmas brings special comfort and confidence. Christmas reminds us that we can trust in God’s promise of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. On a night more than 2,000 years ago, an angel of the Lord brought good tidings of great joy: the God of Heaven had come to Earth, and He would be with us always.
Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.
Sign a Christmas card to our troops at Captain’s Quarters.
La Shawn Barber gives her Christmas greeting.
Kate at Small Dead Animals has a lovely reminiscence: Song Of The Sled.
More at Pajamas Media.
Bring a Kleenex for this one: Sailor Donates Kidney to Foster Mother
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Rahway NJ–An ailing woman who has sheltered dozens of foster children over the years received an early Christmas gift from one of them: a donated kidney.
“I’m forever indebted to this young man for this gift,” said Phyllis Klingebiel, 68, of the foster son who lived with her and her husband for 11 years. “He’s a walking angel on this Earth.”
Navy petty officer 2nd class Mark Greshan, 23, said the donation was a natural choice for a woman who cared for him from the time he showed up at the house as a 7-year-old.
“After six months, I knew this was my home,” he told The Star-Ledger of Newark in an interview before the operation. “It wasn’t ‘foster child,’ it was ‘son.’”
Klingebiel needed a transplant after a genetic kidney condition worsened in the last year. Matches from biological family members were not available.
“He called me up and said, ‘I have a Christmas gift for you,’” Phyllis Klingebiel said. “‘The bad news is that it’s going to be early. The good news is that you’re going to get my kidney.’”
Herbert Klingebiel thinks of Greshan’s donation as a reward for his wife’s work with children. Over the past 30 years, the Klingebiels have tended to 67 foster children.
“God gives everybody a gift, and I guess her gift is helping children,” he said. “I guess this just came around and God gave it back hundredfold, back to my wife.”
December 25, 2012 09:49 AM by Michelle Malkin
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