Absecon Presbyterian Church
Verse of the Month: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:15
SLATE OF OFFICERS ELECTED FOR 2011
On November 28th the congregation met to elect elders, trustees, and deacons. The slate was approved as follows:
Elder (3 year term) - Jerry Hoenes, Melvin Washington, Dawn Duran
Elder (2 year unexpired term) - Joan Nale, Karen Muldoon
Elder (1 year unexpired term) - Vic Abelson
Trustee (3 year term) - Melvin Washington (chairman), Lee Wolff
Deacon (3 year term) - Mary Bew, Kris Jenoriki, Jinny Wolcott
December is always a busy month with a lot of special activities to celebrate the joy of our Savior’s birth. To make your planning easier, please take note of the dates and events below.
Dec. 1 11:30 – Lunch Bunch to Crab Trap, Somers Point
12 10:00 – Christmas Musical and Birthday Party for Jesus (One Service)
Angel Tree Gifts due
15 12:00 – Evergreens Luncheon at Smithville Inn
22 5:30 – Christmas Caroling
24 5:00 – Family Worship
7:00 – Traditional Worship
26 Regular Schedule (No Breakfast)
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Here we are approaching the Christmas season already! It has been a busy few months and a strong start for the Sunday School, Youth Groups, and adult classes. Special thanks to everyone who gives of their time, talents, and treasure to make it possible to support the young and not-so-young on their walk with Christ.
Yours in Christ,
Christian Education Committee Chair
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND RELATED NEWS
We held our Halloween party on Saturday, October 30th, and had a wonderful time. The games were a big success as was the haunted hay ride. Thanks to A2J for the terrorific haunting. We also held our first Family Worship Sunday of the year. It was awesome having our Senior High Class leading the Jr. Sermon. They put on an awesome skit too. By the time you read this we will have had our first Mission Sunday of the year. We made shepherd’s pie (I think the Good Shepherd would approve!) and crumb cake for some homebound families of the church. Deliveries were made by the A2J youth group. Thank you so much for being good stewards. We are presently moving ahead into the Advent Season, our busiest time of the year.
Highlights and Up Coming Events
May the magic of God’s love fill your heart this season, and may we reach out and share this love with others wherever we are.
In Christ’s love always,
NEWS FROM A2J
It's hard to believe it's that time again! A2J has kept very busy without even trying. We spent most of November helping the Deacons with the drive for the Food Bank, finally bringing everything to the garage for pick up on November 21. Many thanks to all those who thought of those less fortunate. We carved pumpkins for Halloween, split up into 2 teams to deliver Shepherd's Pie to members of our church, and scared in the graveyard for the Haunted Hayride. Many of the younger kids saw how much fun we were having scaring so, as the night went on, less and less people were on the hayride and more and more were scaring. Fun!
We will most likely be settling into our normal routine for the next month as holiday busy-ness picks up. We may or may not join with the senior youth in their annual fund raiser. Naida Burgess will soon be leading us on her second Yoga walk. Some parents are planning a special event based on a popular TV game show. The Birthday Party for Jesus on December 12 promises to be an exciting event, although A2J participants will not take a leading role until the Easter play. We will not meet on December 26. Floor hockey in Madden Hall will be back due to popular demand...once the weather is cold enough to stay inside...which may just be very, very soon...(smile)
As usual, many, many thanks to all A2J members for their cheerful involvement, and to our terrific group of parents and volunteers.
Janna Beth & Jim
SENIOR YOUTH GROUP NEWS
It is time again for our GRAVE BLANKET fundraiser. The blankets will be selling for $12.00 each. The youth group will start building them right after Thanksgiving. There will be an order sheet on the bulletin board (between the rest rooms) or you can put in an order with any of the teens, myself, Jack or Kendal. Thank you for supporting the Senior Youth Group!
During this special time of Thanksgiving I would like to say how thankful I am for being able to be part of this group for 4+ years. Thanks.
LIONS AND LAMBS PREPARE FOR ADVENT SEASON
If you are between the ages of Kindergarten and grade 5 please come join us on Sunday, December 3rd, from 11am until 12:30. We will be learning all about the Advent Season, and we’ll be making Advent Wreaths to go with it. We will also hear about the meaning behind the Chrismon tree, and we’ll make some Chrismons of our own to take home with us. Lunch will be provided following the program at 12:30 for the usual cost. We have a great group of parents who stay and lend a helping hand. All parents are welcome to stay with us and join the fun. Hope to see you on December 3rd at 11 am in the game room. Come make an advent wreath and some Chrismons.
This month as we end our study of Joshua, we will look at the challenge of God's covenant with Joshua and the Israelites. Too many times we don't really understand what a covenant is. We tend to think of a covenant as a contract. A contract is a binding agreement to which both parties agree. You sign a contract when you agree to pay an agreed upon amount for a service or product that you receive.
A covenant, on the other hand, is about a relationship. One sign of God's covenant from ancient times is a transparent rainbow of colors in the sky. It is God reaching out to us for a personal, committed relationship. God is always the one who seeks us out and initiates the covenant. God loves us before we love God - it is not something to be earned. Just as God called Joshua and the Israelites to covenant relationships, we, too, are responsible for cultivating faithful relationships with God and all creation.
The Sarah Circle will meet in Cobb Lounge at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 1st. The Ruth Circle will meet at 1:00 p.m. Friday, December 3rd, at the home of Betsy Cunius. The Martha Circle will meet at the home of Carol Thomas at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, December 9th. We will be taking the hats, gloves, socks, and scarves to the Leeds Avenue Grammar School in Pleasantville on the 13th or 14th of December.
We received the following thank you notes from the college students who received "goodie boxes":
NEWS FROM MAYBERRY
On Friday, December 17th, we will meet in Madden Hall for a delicious pot-luck supper and then screen the only Christmas episode of the Andy Griffith Show ever filmed.
This episode is from the first season, making it 50 years old! The story is a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” where we see Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, all help in the transformation of miserly old Ben Weaver.
So join us on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17th, as we celebrate Christmas in Mayberry.
And, by the way, Aunt Bee’s mincemeat pie is to die for!
MEN’S FELLOWSHIP TO MEET DECEMBER 4
The Doug Jablonski Men’s Fellowship will meet on Saturday, December 4, at 8:30 for breakfast, fellowship, planning and inspiration.
Breakfast will be French toast. Men, join us!
CHRISTMAS EVE SCHEDULE AND DECEMBER 26 SERVICES
There will be two services on Christmas Eve. Family Worship will begin at 5:00 p.m. with our traditional children’s pageant. Our traditional service will be at 7:00 p.m.
There will be candle lighting and a live baby at both services.
On December 26, the day after Christmas, we will have a regular schedule. There will be a carol sing at both services. Come and celebrate the joy of the Christ Child on the first Sunday of the Season of Christmas! (The season before Christmas day is called Advent.)
FROM THE CHOIR LOFT….by Tom Sooy
It seemed like it was just Labor Day and here we are in Advent and heading round the bend to Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin “adventus” meaning “the coming,” or for Christians the meaning is “Second Coming!” This is our time of preparation for Christ’s return to earth, as we celebrate his birth on Christmas. Kind of like a two for one holiday.
The choir has been busy preparing some wonderful music for our Christmas Eve service. And, speaking of the choir, you may have noticed a new face in the choir pews. It is with joy we welcome Diane Lee and thank her for her willingness to share her time and talents with the rest of the gang.
It is a season of preparation but also a season of busy-ness. Hopefully, our hearts are opened to receive that newborn King we so joyfully sing about in the next few weeks.
A happy and blessed Christmas to you all, and until next year…..see you in the Choir Loft.
SOOYS TO BE AWAY DEC. 12 & 26, DOT RYON TO PLAY
Tom and Nancy will be away on vacation the weekends of December 12 and 26. Dot Ryon will be at the organ both Sundays.
Our church was able to raise $1,359 for the CROP Walk held on October 17th. This money will be used to help end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.
Lisa Whitaker was a speaker at the November 7th Agape Lunch. She shared some of her experiences with us.
Due to the economy we are making a donation to the Community Food Bank of South Jersey of one thousand dollars. We will also be making a donation to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission of two thousand dollars. These local organizations have an increased need of 30%-40% over the past year. Contributions are also being made to Presbytery Mission Causes (one thousand dollars) and to Ranch Hope (one thousand dollars).
One thousand dollars will be contributed to Church World Service for Emergency Cleanup Buckets. These buckets are filled with cleaning supplies which will help enable people to begin cleaning up after natural disasters in the U.S. such as tornadoes, hurricanes and floods.
We will make a contribution to the Salvation Army with this years Christmas Eve offering.
Thank you for your Support,
Russ Adkisson, Mission Chair
CHRISTMAS ANGEL TAGS – THE SALVATION ARMY
The tree is up! The tags are waiting for you to choose one. Each tag represents a needy child's wish for a toy or game. Clothing sizes are also included.
Your help enables The Salvation Army to provide gifts to hundreds of children, making their holiday special and memorable.
Simply take a tag, shop for toys, games and/or clothing. Wrap the gift and securely attach the tag to the gift. All gifts must be returned to the church by December 12. The gifts will be taken to the Salvation Army on December 14.
Thank you for your kindness and generosity on behalf of the many children you will help this Christmas.
The Mission Committee
THANKS FOR GENEROUS HARVEST HOME DONATIONS!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for the response we received for our Food Drive for the Community Food Bank this year. We are overwhelmed with your generosity. A truck from the Food Bank was here first thing Monday morning for pick up. I thank everyone who helped carry ALL THAT FOOD to the game room on Sunday. Many hands made our job much easier. We also collected lots of winter coats and blankets. My heartfelt THANKS to everyone for helping others have a better Thanksgiving this year. God Bless you all.
Carol Thomas, Deacons Moderator
NEWS FROM LISA
Blessed by a Cigarette Butt
I know, I know, not exactly a title that appears in the Good News. I really didn’t mean to shock you - well maybe a little. I really just wanted you to feel the same way I did the other night. I was attending a worship service at one of my supporting churches where I have spoken off and on the last 10 years. During their service a woman had given her testimony of how God had saved her out of a very rough background. As I was leaving the service, I saw the woman and thanked her for her testimony - she said, “Hey, I know you, you’re that missionary aren’t you?” I said, “yes” . . . and then she started reaching in her pockets searching for something. She said, “I heard you speak a few years ago, and ever since then I have carried this around with me as a reminder of your story” - She then held out a cigarette butt. I obviously looked confused as she continued - “you know, the story about the people who were smoking before Bible study” - It then hit me. I have shared at different times about a group of refugees we were meeting with for Bible study. They were all either non-Christians or new Christians - most of them would smoke a few cigarettes before and after Bible study. We were meeting at a church facility and at times there would be cigarette butts left on the grounds following our time together. After about a month, the church leaders told us we could not meet there anymore, because of the cigarette butts and some pebbles from the garden that were on the sidewalk after we left. We looked at these church leaders and said “Really? These people are searching for truth and you are going to kick them out on the street because of a few pebbles and cigarette butts?” We asked them if they knew of the verse in Proverbs 14:4 that says - “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.”
If you want a clean church, then don’t let any people in - if you want people, then expect some dirt. It reminded me of the way God chose to send his only Son to earth - not in a sterile, clean hospital room or even home. No, He entered the world in the midst of a smelly, dirty stable - surrounded not by royalty or conveniences - but surrounded by a cow, some sheep, probably a few cats, bats and who knows what other creatures were lurking in the walls of that stable 2,000 years ago. God understood that discipleship is messy - life is messy. God is not offended or afraid of our messes - in fact Jesus was born right into the midst of a pretty messy situation. I am so thankful we celebrate the incarnation of our God in such a way that says, “I understand the mess, and I am going to walk through that mess with you.”
I truly was blessed by that cigarette butt - I hope you are too.
STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE REPORT
As I write this report, our annual Stewardship Commitment Campaign is in progress. The theme this year is Strengthening Our Roots which is a logical extension of last year when we celebrated our 150th Anniversary. As reported at the November 14th service, we need you to maintain – or increase if you are able – your financial support of the church so we can keep our programs and personnel. At this time, there is no need for a Winter Fundraiser so this might enable you to increase your pledge for 2011.
We also need you to reflect on the amount of time you are devoting to your church. There is a growing need for more of you to become involved in leadership positions. Even if you have done this before, please consider assuming a leadership role again.
If you did not pick up your envelope containing your Faith or pledge card and the Talent Bank Questionnaire on the 14th or 21st of November, it will be mailed to you. Please fill out and return by placing in the collection plate or by mailing it back in the enclosed envelope. The information you provide reflects your intentions as to how you plan to support our church. It is valuable to the Stewardship Committee as a guide for planning in 2011. If you misplaced your Faith or pledge card or the Talent Bank Questionnaire, additional copies are available in church. Just ask.
A special appeal - As mentioned in my message from the pulpit on November 14, at the bottom of the GETTING TO KNOW YOU column on the Talent Bank Questionnaire are two new entries: I am willing to Serve on a Church Growth Committee and I am willing to Serve on a committee to bring contemporary worship/music to our church. These are two new ideas that have been discussed as needs in our church. To be addressed properly, several members are needed to serve on each of these committees. Please give strong consideration to becoming a member of one of these committees.
Statistical Report for October
Budget for 2010 $222,419.00
Budgetary needs through October 31, 2010 $188,232.00
Our giving through 10/31/10 $131,389.45
Investment Income $ 14,948.55
Rental Income (net) $ 22,072.58
Amount under budget $ 19,821.42
Average weekly giving by month
2010 2009 2010 2009
January $3261.49 $3689.44 July $2801.60 $2941.21
February $3059.14 $3150.85 August $2835.95 $2481.40
March $3166.79 $3055.65 September $2969.84 $3117.45
April $3069.19 $3355.50 October $2980.55 $2787.92
May $3779.57 $2950.76
June $3208.85 $3001.70
Gerald W. Hoenes
Stewardship Committee Chairperson
THANK YOUS FOR NOVEMBER
Many programs developed during November, and we thank those who took part.
END OF YEAR TAXABLE GIFTS
As the year 2010 quickly draws to a close with the busyness of the holiday season please don’t forget your tithes and offerings. Remember - only offerings and/or gifts received or postmarked by December 31, 2010 can be counted as deductions for your 2010 taxes.
COBB LOUNGE RENOVATION
A committee is actively engaged in refurnishing and redecorating Cobb Lounge. As there will be no “winter fundraiser” this year, we are looking for help in financing this project. Items we are looking to purchase are:
If you are interested in giving a gift in memory or in honor of someone, please leave a message in the office addressed to Gayle Ackerman.
Thank you for your prayerful consideration.
Gayle Ackerman Elaine Risley
Kris Jenoriki Nancy Sooy
Joyce Pfeiffer Doris Wood
I would like to thank everyone who helped with the cranberry/baked good sales. Your time and efforts are sincerely appreciated.
The holidays will be upon us soon which makes for a very busy church life. Our biggest event will be the Holland Family Dinner/Concert which will undoubtedly be a magical event. There are more details within the Good News.
We are planning to have two soup sales. The first one will be January 16. Anyone interested in making soup for the sale please contact me at 992-5968.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.
In Christian Faith,
BREAKFAST SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR DECEMBER
Our Sunday Breakfast Club schedule will be changed a bit for the month of December. On Sunday, December 12, there will be a light breakfast served at 9:00 a.m. This is the day of our Christmas play followed by our Birthday Party for Jesus.
Breakfast has been cancelled for December 26 but will be served as usual on January 2.
December 18th Christmas Congregational Event
The 6 p.m. seating for our roast Beef Dinner is SOLD OUT
(but a waitlist is being held!)
The 5 p.m. seating has very limited openings!
Sanctuary concert seats are even more limited
– call ASAP for exact details – (Joanie 641-1839)
Our people have had 2 weeks priority seating
Tickets (as left) are now open to all)
Please call if you must cancel – up until noon that very day
Holland Family Concert – 7:00 p.m. Sharp!
TRAVEL ADVENTURE GROUP NEWS
BY TOM SOOY
On Saturday, December 11th, we will be leaving Absecon and heading to the “Sweetest Place on Earth.” If you have signed up and been confirmed for the trip, remember we are departing from the church at 7:30 a.m., yes that early! We have a great fun-filled day ahead of us.
We are looking at several possibilities for trips in the spring of 2011, so watch future issues of the “Good News”, and watch and listen for announcements in church so you will not be left out!
Well, I am off to see what other adventures are out there in store for us. So, Merry Christmas to all and let’s keep on travellin’! Tom
EVERGREENS CHRISTMAS LUNCHEON WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15
Our annual Christmas luncheon will be held at Smithville Inn at noon on December 15. Lisa Whitaker will again be our guest and will be sharing some of her “adventures” from the past year. Fill in the reservation form below, making sure to indicate your menu choice. The cost is $20.00. We always have a good time at this luncheon, so please join us. Everyone is welcome so feel free to invite your friends.
Evergreens 2010 Christmas Luncheon
Wednesday, December 15, 12 Noon
Smithville Inn, Smithville, NJ
Menu Choices -- Choose one Cost: $20.00
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Maryland Crab Cake
Menu Choice: _________________________________________________
Number of People: __________________ Paid: __________________
Reservation Deadline: December 12
Call: Joanna Howell (383-9423) OR Marjorie McGuigan (965-3535)
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS TO GO UP THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 6
Come one, come all and help us decorate our church for the holidays. Men, there are lights to go outside and our manger box to be set up. Barbara Morgan is in charge of the Chrismon Tree (Jean will be away), and there are many areas to decorate. Our church Christmas play and party is December 12. We need it all ready by then.
CHURCH CHRISTMAS CAROLING TO TAKE PLACE DECEMBER 22
The Deacons will prepare fruit baskets, and we will take our annual caroling trip on Wednesday, December 22. We meet at the church at 5:30 and should finish about 8:00 with a return trip to the manse for hot chocolate. This is a night of pure joy in Christmas giving. Join us!
MAILBOX SYSTEM TO BE IN PLACE BY DECEMBER 12
Once again this year we will set up a place to exchange Christmas greetings.
There will be offering envelopes in your mailbox by December 12. Please take and use them in 2011. January is an expensive month with bills for insurance, Per Capita, etc. due then. (There will be no updated church directory because you just got a new picture directory in November.)
CHURCH CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS STILL AVAILABLE
The beautiful hanging ornaments of our church are still available at a cost of $15.00 each. If you haven’t gotten yours, now’s the time! These also make lovely holiday gifts. See Carol Thomas to make your purchase!
To: Prayer Shawl and Quilt Ministry
What a wonderful surprise to receive one of your beautiful prayer shawls! Many thanks to all.
* * * * *
Eleanor Spitler Elbertson appreciates the telephone calls, cards, and prayers. Thank you.
* * * * *
I would like to thank each one that prayed for me, sent good wishes, cards, & flowers, also my beautiful shawl to me which I appreciate so much.
It certainly helped to know many friends were with me. Praise the Lord I’m feeling much better now.
* * * * *
HOLIDAY OFFICE HOURS
The church office will be closed December 27 and January 3. There will be limited hours December 28-31 to allow our administrative assistant time to visit (and do some wedding planning) with her Arizona kids.
We wish you and yours a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
FLOWER CALENDAR HANGING IN VESTIBULE
Our 2011 flower calendar will be hanging in the vestibule soon. If you would like to purchase altar flowers for any particular Sunday of the year please sign up to reserve your date! The cost for a single urn is $25.00 or $40.00 or two for $40. Order forms are available in an envelope next to the chart to be filled in and returned to the church office with your payment. This will help the secretary know what you would like printed in the Sunday bulletin.
Do we have your email address? If not, email the church office (email@example.com) and ask to be added to our list of contacts to get weekly updates, announcements and information. You don’t know what you’re missing!
Remember, Deadlines are Important!
“Good Morning” (Sunday bulletin announcements) – Noon Thursday
“The Presby Post” (Friday email) – 9:00 a.m. Friday
“Good News” (Monthly newsletter) – 20th of the month
Articles are to be in writing and submitted to the office (via email preferred) by that day. Please keep in mind it may be necessary to edit due to space limitations.
Holiday Gathering for all Absecon Seniors
Absecon Seniors are invited to attend a Holiday Gathering on Monday, December 6, from 10:30 a.m. – 12 Noon in the Attales Library. Entertainment will be followed by lunch. RSVP, if possible, by December 1 to Sue Antorino-Perry at 641-5375, ext. 1012. (An RSVP is not required to attend. All seniors are welcome!)
John Howard Gospel Caravan Concert December 11
Mark your calendar for Saturday, December 11, at 4:00 p.m. when Margate Community Church presents an inspiring Christmas concert by the John Howard Gospel Caravan (directed by Rev. Charles Lyles of Victory First Presbyterian Deliverance Church in Atlantic City).
Donation of $15 includes the concert and gourmet “wine” and hors d’oeuvres reception following. (Questions – call 822-7147)
The Presbyterian Church of Pleasantville invites you to join them:
Israel – Ten Day Journey Through The Holy Land – May 22-31, 2011 -- $2,149.00 pp dble - $160.00 ins
R/T air non-stop – PHL-TEL AVIV - $1350.00 Jordan Extension Available – save $200.00 per couple – early bird discount
For info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 609/641-0596
5 9:30 Joan Nale
11:00 Leslie Harvey
12 10:00 Karen Muldoon
19 9:30 Diane Kleiner
11:00 Frank & Marge Loeb
24 5:00 David & Naida Burgess
7:00 Dirk & Desiree Williamson
26 9:30 Ruth Champion
11:00 Betty Lloyd
5 9:30 Bob Hunter
11:00 Tina Brown
12 10:00 Janice Bond
19 9:30 Bob Hunter
11:00 Joan Hoenes
24 5:00 Scott Sabo
7:00 Janice Bond
26 9:30 Louise Speitel
11:00 Priscilla Schultheis
5 9:30 Vic & Rita Abelson
11:00 Dawn Duran & Denise Ott
12 10:00 Bob & Irene Hunter
19 9:30 Carol Thomas & Elaine Risley
11:00 Mary Bew & Betty Lloyd
24 5:00 Dan & Barbara Hughes
7:00 Greg Hamaty & Joe Marshall
26 9:30 Jack & Dee Heil
11:00 Olga Davies & Leslie Harvey
5 David & Judy Stebbins
12 Bill & Ginny Davenport
19 Doris & Richard Wood
24 5:00 Hughes Family
7:00 Jack & Dotty Hanlon
26 Bob & Irene Hunter
DEACONS GUEST BOOK
5 9:30 Jinny Wolcott
11:00 Mary Bew
12 10:00 Pat Hudak
19 9:30 Ginny Davenport
11:00 Mary Bew
26 9:30 Naida Burgess
11:00 Mary Bew
5 Julie Seltzer
12 Bob Hudak (10:00)
19 Jennifer Platt
26 Gloria Achamizo
5 John Harvey
12 Barbara Hughes
19 Barbara Hughes
26 Vic Abelson
5 Dawn Lewis
12 Birthday Party for Jesus
19 Betty Price
BREAKFAST CLUB KITCHEN CREW
5 Set-up – Edith Budd
Cook – Ed Little
Clean-up – McManus Family
12 Light Breakfast at 9:00 a.m.
19 Set-up – Roger & Jinny Wolcott
Cook – John Harvey
Clean-up – Joe Marshall
26 NO BREAKFAST
A LIVING HERO
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4
One of our national “heroes” who is making the rounds of talk shows these days is Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of Iowa, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on November 15 by President Obama. He’s an ordinary guy who says he “still has to do the dishes” when he goes home to his wife, but behind the easy going façade is the story of “a living hero” of Afghanistan as the press calls him.
In 2007 Giunta was patrolling the “Valley of Death”, as the Korengal Valley was nicknamed, when enemy fire opened from both sides and immediately injured three Americans. Facing open fire, Giunta pulled one to safety. He and another soldier threw grenades ahead of themselves so they could make it to save the second soldier. Through the smoke Spc. Giunta could see two insurgents carrying off the third soldier. Knowing the man would be paraded as a trophy of war and probably tortured, he faced open gunfire and eventually killed one of the enemy soldiers and wounded the second. Spc. Giunta then carried the injured American back to safety. For his heroism Obama said he represents “the best in all of us”. He is the first recipient in 40 years to be alive for the ceremony.
We would like to think that this story had a happy ending, but it does not. Today the so called “Valley of Death” is back in enemy hands. And the man Spc. Giunta risked his life to save, Sgt. Joshua Brennan, died in surgery the next day from his wounds. “I just did what I was trained to do. I cannot control the outcome. I’m just a man”, the sergeant said. Sadly, most heroes who died and received the Medal of Honor posthumously did not achieve a victory.
And that is where Christmas is totally different from human efforts. It is a gift of God’s grace. After many failed human efforts to keep the law, in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son. From the moment of His birth victory was assured because this Child was not “just a man”. As God’s only begotten Son He did have power to control the outcome. So while Jesus faced open gunfire and death itself He was ultimately “efficacious”. (That’s the theological term that means “it worked”.) This Child, though wounded and scared, brought about the only victory that really matters. He defeated “the Valley of Death” for each one of us. So rejoice. Christ the Victor is born. He may suffer and die, but He is able to control the outcome for all eternity. He is our living hero for all eternity!
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