Sitting Near My Christmas Tree

Reflections on a Christmas Eve

While sitting near my Christmas tree
the lights that twinkle speak to me
recalling poignant memories
of happy times and sad

I visualize my mom and dad
and packages all wrapped in plaid
and buttered lefsa Nana had
to serve on Christmas Day.

I think about our relatives
and thoughtful gifts that they would give
and Grandpa’s prayer that we would live
to serve the newborn King.

I still recall our stereo
and records that we kids would know
by Mel Torme and Nat King Cole
(and the Chipmunks, too).

I can’t help picturing the past.
Somehow I thought those days would last.
Could I have known time moves so fast
as kids find their own way?

I pine for how it used to be
while sitting near this twinkling tree
and cherishing such memories
that time cannot erase.

The delightful image of this nostalgic Christmas scene was painted by my brother Marc Asimakoupoulos.

Finding God in “It’s a Wonderful Life”

You don’t have to look far to find Him

Finding God in Bedford Falls?
By George, I have. Will you?
Like Waldo He keeps showing up
amid the many clues.

He’s there at old man Gower’s store.
and in the Granville home.
You’ll find Him there at Harry’s prom
or as George prays alone.

He’s there beside young Zuzu’s bed
and at Martini’s bar.
To find the Lord within this film,
you need not look that far.

He’s there when Mr. Potter tries
to trap George in his web.
And He is there when George gives up
and wishes he was dead.

Although you’ll never see His face,
God’s fingerprints abound
within this movie millions love.
The plot is holy ground!

*Frank Capra’s timeless Christmas movie premiered on December 20, 1946 (exactly 75 years ago). Although it was nominated for five Academy Awards, it didn’t win any. What appeared at first to be a flop has become one of the most inspirational and popular films of all times. The following radio interviews were recently aired, interviewing Greg for his insights on the movie and the festival:

Dave Ross, CBS radio, interviews Greg Asimakoupoulos about IAWL Festival, 12/08/2021

Spirit 105.3 FM, Seattle’s Erica Parkerson interviews Greg on 12/22/2021

Gregg Hersholt, KOMO radio, features and interviews Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/24/2021

BBC Radio 4 Sunday Program, 12/26/2021, host William Crawley features Greg Asimakoupoulos discussing significant audio clips from the IAWL movie.

Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos was guest preacher at First United Methodist, Seneca Falls, NY 12/12/2021 at time of the “It’s a Wonderful Life Festival”.
(Video play button above will start video at the intro to sermon)

Greg’s book,
Finding God in
It’s a Wonderful Life
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $2.99-$14.99
Lulu Books.

The Four Candles of Advent

Contemplating the message of the season

There’s hope and there’s peace, then there’s joy and then love.
The candles of Advent reveal
the season’s true essence, the heart of God’s heart
and the things that our world needs to heal.

Our hope keeps us trusting for what yet awaits.
We focus our gaze with a prayer
that what has been promised will come in God’s time
reflecting God’s light everywhere.

The peace that we long for and patiently strive
eludes us if left to ourselves.
Harmonious unions depend on God’s grace
that draws those at odds to God’s self.

Thank goodness for joy that comes out of the blue
giving songs in the night of despair.
Joy’s candle reminds us that we can give thanks
even when there are burdens to bear.

And don’t forget love that both warms and gives light
to those who approach Bethlehem.
What beckons us onward is knowing God came
to share in our plight as a man.

How Covid Stole Christmas

2020 Hindsight

We started the year 2020 with hope
with focus and vision no reason to mope.
But then Kobe left us. His daughter did too.
Then something more dreadful would come into view.

COVID they called it. A Grinch-like disease.
This heartless invader brought us to our knees.
Wash your hands. Wear your mask.
Keep your distance. Stay home.
And in lockdown we panicked, together alone.

Our nation divided by blue states and red
grew angry and violent as George Floyd lay dead.
Those protests and riots made headlines and news
as COVID deaths mounted and we looked for clues
for how this grave virus could finally be stopped
and how to find justice for those killed by cops.

It seemed like our nation had ground to a halt.
The culprit was COVID. That’s who was at fault
for shutting down restaurants, churches and schools
and emptying stadiums with endless rules.
Businesses languished while tent cities thrived.
The death toll kept rising. Just who would survive
the first wave and second? Would there be a third?
Immunity beckoned by vaccine and herd.

And now it is Christmas with vials en route.
but the Grinch known as COVID maintains his pursuit
of holiday bedlam and holiday grief.
Can Christmas be salvaged? Is there no relief?

This vandal’s relentless. The world’s robbed of joy.
These silent nights find me a heartbroken boy.
There’s coal in my stocking. My list’s been ignored.
Our halls still need decking. I’m lonesome and bored.

While socially distanced alone by the tree,
I’m dreaming of normal (not snow). May it be!
I’m cherishing family from whom I’m apart.
I’m replaying memories tucked deep in my heart.

And though I am grieving what won’t be this year,
I’m grateful this Christmas that I am still here.
I’m grateful for loved ones. I’m grateful for friends.
I’m grateful that soon COVID’s looting will end.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

A prayer for peace in our divided nation

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through our land
the peace that was promised the kind that God planned
is missing in action. It’s shattered at best.
That peace lies in pieces. Our country’s a mess.

The homeless and hungry are begging for more
while addicts and crazies define a new war.
Though peace poles stand proudly, the words they convey
are hauntingly empty in the US of A.

There’s racial profiling and Hitler-like lies.
There’s mass shootings weekly and random drive-bys.
There’s terrorist plotting and demonized wills.
There’re bullies on playgrounds and Capitol Hill.

There’s sexual scandal and white collar crime
where bribing admissions finds folks doing time.
And Christians are blasted for what they believe
while atheists manage to get a reprieve.

To say “Merry Christmas” might likely offend
your colleagues at work or your secular friends.
So we are encouraged to guard what we say
and be most generic. “Have a nice holiday!”

With stars, lights and carols and trees all around,
you’d think it is Christmas but sadly I’ve found
Christ’s birth is divisive. Singing Silent Night
can put off somebody who’s looking to fight.

Joy to the World? Think again. Hold your tongue.
The prophet’s peace promised has hardly begun.
We’re a nation in darkness still longing for light.
A nation in conflict. Perpetual night.

A people divided. Impeachment and hate.
Much partisan rancor and endless debate.
Immigration, abortion and the death penalty,
same-sex unions and climate, end-of-life dignity.
The issues are endless. The fire won’t cease.
Taking aim is so easy. Do we truly want peace?

Ah, yes. We hate fighting. Fighting kills us inside.
What we truly desire is arms opened wide
to welcome the stranger. To love like we’ve been.
To offer acceptance from which friendship stems.

The names of Messiah that came with his birth
include what we long for… Shalom here on earth.
Your government, Yahweh, Your Kingdom prevail.
May You counsel with wonder. Mighty God, do it well.
Father, most everlasting cause our conflicts to cease.
Mingle mercy with justice. That’s our prayer, Prince of Peace.

Calm the storms that still threaten. Tame our tensions within
that trigger dissention ‘tween women and men.
And may warring religions that claim they are right
learn to listen and learn from rather than argue and fight.

Breathe Your Spirit upon us. Prince of Peace, Lord of Love,
warm our hearts with Your presence. Make us most mindful of
Your Kingdom of kindness. Be our Ruler and King.
Majesty, we pay homage even now as we sing…

For You alone are worthy.
For You alone are worthy.
For You alone are worthy, Christ the Lord.