It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s more than an unforgettable Christmas movie

It’s a wonderful life
even though it’s been tough
with the hardships and heartaches we’ve faced.
Our blessings outnumber
what’s brought us much pain
when we look back at times we were graced.

It’s a wonderful life
if we choose to believe
that our lives have touched others for good.
Through the words that we’ve said
or the deeds we have done
we’ve brought joy to the world (as we should).

It’s a wonderful life
we’ve been given by God.
What George Bailey discovered is true.
Every day is a gift
to unwrap and enjoy
while acknowledging someone needs you.

It’s a wonderful life
Christmas Day promises.
A life that goes on when we die.
A life most abundant
where love wins the day
and offers what money can’t buy.

*It’s a Wonderful Life premiered on December 20, 1946.
My book “Finding God in It’s a Wonderful Life” can be purchased through (Kindle version) See more on the Book Menu.

A Letter to the Christ Child

An honest conversation with the Christ of Christmas

Dear Jesus,

This weekend, as over two billion of your followers prepare to celebrate your birthday,
I find myself attempting to manage a myriad of emotions.
I love this time of year. The twinkling lights, festive traditions and familiar music bring out the child in me.
I’m reminded of simpler times with grandparents and cousins and a sense that all was well with the world.

But this Christmas season, it’s not just my inner child that cannot be contained.
My married daughter is in the ninth month of her pregnancy.
Within a few weeks my wife and I will become first-time grandparents.

Jesus, as I look at my adult child, I can’t help but picture your precious mother on the threshold of giving birth.
Her face, like my daughter’s, must have glowed with the radiant beauty unique to expectant moms.
I can hardly wait to hold that little one.
Still, this Christmas finds me perplexed with the problems of the world into which my grandchild will be born.
The spirit of giving has been replaced by a spirit of taking.
Countless individuals are taking to Facebook to demean those who disagree with their political perspective.
Too often Facebook “friends” are often anything but.

The season surrounding your birthday has often been called “the most wonderful time of the year.”
But this year it’s less than wonderful.
Although we sing about a joyful world filled with silent nights
and recite verses that speak of “peace on earth goodwill to men,” we know better.
In the country in which I live, political division and racial prejudice dominate the daily headlines.
And that’s not all. Homelessness is on the rise both at home and abroad.
So are the growing number of refugees seeking a safe place to raise their children.
Add to that the terrorists and delusional dictators who hold our hope for peace hostage.
Yes, the thirst for power and the appetite for domination resemble the Roman Empire into which you were born.

Jesus, you certainly must relate to the world in which I live.
Contrary to the lyrics of that popular carol, I’m guessing you didn’t really sleep in heavenly peace
as your mother struggled to comfort you in that cold and wet barn smelling of cow dung.
How could you not identify with the homeless population in my city
where makeshift shelters dominate the underpasses of the interstate?
You understand only too well the fear and hate associated with terrorism and political exile.
Shortly after you were born, a blood-thirsty tyrant blindsided young parents in Bethlehem murdering their helpless children.
Your parents fled with you from a terrorist plot as they sought asylum in Egypt.
They had no idea where they were going or what awaited them when they got there.
No wonder you identify with the plight of refugees around the world
who have left their home countries in search of a life free from war and prejudice.

Being homeless and fleeing from terrorism, it’s no wonder you have a heart for the dispossessed and the marginalized among us. Having been welcomed by strangers in a strange land,
your experience inspires us to be willing to do the same.
Pondering the world of fear and hate into which my grandchild will soon be born,
the child within me begins to kick and scream in protest.

I refuse to believe that we can’t do better as travel companions on spaceship Earth.
After all, the place where I first came across your birth announcement
clued me into the fact that every man, woman and child has been created in the image of our Creator.
There is something in us worthy of redemption.

Come to think of it, Jesus, isn’t that why you were born in the first place?

An Honest Christian

An Advent Prayer

New lyrics to an ancient Advent hymn

O come Befriender of the lonely soul
and fill their emptiness until it’s full.
Stand by the grieving as they weep
and walk with them although their path is steep.
Rejoice, rejoice, our Friend who knows our plight
and be to us a candle in the night.

O come Defender of the working poor
and give them what they need (and then some more).
Provide them with the means and way
to give their children toys with which to play.
Rejoice, rejoice, our only sure defense
and comfort those whose burdens are intense.

O come Redeemer of our nation’s wrongs
and fill our hearts with plaintiff, hopeful songs.
Confront the demons that divide
especially hateful prejudice and pride.
Rejoice, rejoice, Redemption’s Child, rejoice
and give all those who worship You one voice.

O come Fulfillment of what God has deemed
and satisfy creation’s deepest dreams.
Accomplish all that love demands
and bring about the peace that You have planned.
Rejoice, rejoice, Fulfiller of God’s heart
as we rejoice and sing “How Great Thou Art.”

tune: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

A Day of Infamy (Revisited)

Pondering Pearl Harbor 75 years later

On that Sunday in December,
morning broke and shattered peace
as the Japanese attacked our anchored fleet.
Might you know someone who witnessed
that grim day of infamy?
It’s a day our nation contemplates this week.

The pearl of Honolulu
(like a gemstone of the sea)
gleamed with beauty while reflecting Nature’s light.
But that jewel became the target
of a nation bent on war
that would bomb the living daylights into night.

We still grieve for those who perished
in Pearl Harbor’s bloody bay
as we listen to survivors tell their tale.
In their well-rehearsed descriptions
of the Hell that they observed
you can see the flames and hear the victims wail.

Let the images recounted
animate our firm resolve
to defuse the threat of war at any cost.
May that nightmare that still haunts us
find us praying for world peace
as we take some time to honor those we lost.

*This poem is dedicated to Lois Dusenbery. At the time of this post, at 104 years of age, she was the oldest resident at Covenant Shores Retirement Community and was an eyewitness to the attack at Pearl Harbor.

A Farewell to Fidel

Saying so-long to a short-sighted bully

A suburb of Miami
(separated by a sea)
is an island sniffing freedom
that with Castro couldn’t be.

While that bearded man smoked stogies,
Cuba limped along quite lame.
Communism was his mantra.
Marxist doctrine was his aim.

Among Cubans tears are flowing
born of joy and born of grief.
Is democracy forthcoming?
Or just more tobacco leaves?

Well, the answer is uncertain.
Cuba’s future’s up for grabs
now that death has claimed a victory
o’er the man in olive drabs.