| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: “. . . stand ye in the ways and ye shall find rest for your soul.”

Posted on 31 January 2019 by LeslieM

Our God teaches us the things we need to know in many different ways. He is the God of Creation, and gives us the wonder we see with our eyes and feel in our souls when we look out at His world. He is the God of Order, and assures us that His world evolves exactly according to His design. He is the God of History and, although things may look bleak in the short term, the long view shows that He is in charge of the final outcome. He is the God of Love, and teaches us how to find rest in our souls by teaching us about Himself. And, to make sure we don’t misunderstand His teachings, He has given us many wonderful stories that reveal Himself to us. The story of the Wedding at Cana is such a story.

We have all read the story of how the wine was about to run out before the end of the wedding festivities and how this would have been a great embarrassment to the bridegroom. So what was our Lord’s response to this situation? He merely took jugs of water and miraculously turned them into jugs of wine! We learn something wonderful about our Lord’s character in the way He reacted to the young bridegroom’s predicament. We learn that our Lord knows, and is sympathetic to, what takes place in our lives and, when our best interests will be served, He will come to our assistance.

The next thing we learn about the character of our Lord has a lot to do with where the miraculous event at Cana happened — it happened at a wedding. We see our Lord perfectly at ease at such an event. He was no killjoy! Why? Because our Lord had a missionary spirit and He loved to share in the joy and happiness of all the people He encountered. Someone a lot smarter than me once said, “More souls will be led to heaven by people who have heaven on their faces then by those who have hell in their looks.”

And then, we learn something about the character of our Lord from the place in which the miracle happened. It happened in a home, a humble honest home in a tiny village in the Galilee. It did not happen at some great state event or in the presence of a vast crowd of people, or within the walls of a royal palace. Our Lord chose to be among simple people, in an ordinary home, to show us the side of His character that honors the places we call home, the places where nothing but our best is good enough – either for our families or for the friends we invite to the places where we live. Our Lord showed us the side of His character that wants to be one with us in our bodies, in our homes, and in all our days.

The story of the Wedding at Cana is a miracle story about something our Lord did at one time in Galilee but is doing again and again to this very day. It is a story that teaches us that when our Lord comes into our lives and reveals his divine character of joy, humility, understanding and love – he brings a miraculous new quality into our lives. And what do you and I get out of this story? Saint John tells us, “If you want a new life, then become a follower of our Lord, and there will come a change in your life which will be like turning water into wine.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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CLERGY CORNER: Pursuing Peace

Posted on 23 January 2019 by LeslieM

The subject of peace is a recurring headline in the news of our day. Every modern president, including the current one, has tried to be the arbiter of harmony in the Middle East among antagonistic nations. And because nearly every peace accord that has ever been established has eventually been broken, peace, peacemaking and peacekeeping will always be in our news broadcasts, in the newspapers, and in our conversations. Interestingly, some of the instruments of our attempts at peace have been symbols usually associated with violence. Civil War army pistols were referred to as peacemakers and the military even named a missile ‘peacemaker.’

The role of United Nations Peacekeeping forces, as noted on their website, is to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace. Comprised of civilian, police, and military personnel, peacekeepers are additionally charged with assisting in political processes, reforming judicial systems, training law enforcement and police forces, disarming and reintegrating former combatants, and supporting the return of internally displaced persons and refugees. In recent years, however, reports from around the world have implicated peacekeepers themselves with criminal behavior, abuse and oppression in strife-torn countries.

Recent public clashes between groups representing opposing racial, political and ideological views have put a spotlight on the divides that still plague American society. Some of them have had deadly consequences evidencing an increase in the propensity towards violence. One of the regrettable consequences of social media is that words and images can quickly stir up strife. This proves that harmony, if it is achieved, should never be taken for granted but must always be watchfully maintained.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raised the issue of peacemaking, and probably shocked His audience that was accustomed to social and religious sectarian conflict. Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t get along very well. Publicans were a hated group and considered traitors for collecting taxes on behalf of the Roman government. The Law of Moses demanded an eye for an eye, blood for blood and life for a life. But Jesus offered a radical new perspective on conflict: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God(Matthew 5:9).

This week, we observed the celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a proponent of peace. Whether questioning the nation’s involvement in the Vietnam war and the quest for nuclear supremacy or pricking the public conscience to address injustice, there could be no doubt about what he believed. His preferred tactic for confronting the evils of racism was non-violent protest. Recognizing the greater power of words over weapons, he masterfully challenged America to consider her ways. Concerning peace, some of his powerful statements are enshrined in public memorials that inspire emerging generations to brotherhood and harmony: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace.” “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

For his efforts, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He is regarded as the champion of the civil rights movement and is celebrated as one of America’s greatest citizens. His actions also fulfilled the qualifications Jesus identified in order to be considered a son of God. In a world where there is more that we have in common than in difference, it’s time for us to unite in brotherhood and harmony and make the pursuit of peace a clear objective. Only then can we expect to be called the sons of God.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Get on the field…

Posted on 17 January 2019 by LeslieM

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.Matthew 16:24-25 NRSV

The college football championship is behind us. We are in the midst of NFL playoffs and in a few weeks the Super Bowl will be watched by millions. Even people who do not regularly watch football will be watching the Super Bowl.

Fanfare is a multi-billion dollar business. People spend a lot of time and money following their team. And, I must admit, I am a fan as well. There is something that does get under my skin. I know it is small and seemingly insignificant. When a fan uses the word “we” when she or he is talking about their favorite team.

Let me give you an example. I will use my favorite team as an example. I see a person wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey on a Sunday afternoon. I ask: “Who are the Vikings playing?” She answered: “We are playing the Packers.”

Clearly, I knew what she meant and I am certain that she wouldn’t appreciate a reaction like this: “I didn’t know you played for the Vikings. I just thought you were a fan.”

I say this because there is a big difference between someone who puts on a jersey to watch a football game and someone who puts on a jersey to play the game. I can say that fanfare is painless and football is painful but fans would be inclined to say: “That interception was painful.” I can assure you, the one who threw the interception was in much more pain.

Sports can serve as a great metaphor. Jesus calls us to discipleship and discipleship is much more than fanfare. A fan stays in the comfortable stadium seats or an armchair in the living room in front of a big screen TV. The player is on the field enduring a lot of abuse. We are not called to the bleachers; we are called to the field. Discipleship is not a “spectator sport.”

Churches have a tendency of measuring their success based upon fanfare. How successful is your ministry? “I will take a head count and let you know.”

I challenged a congregation I once served: “Do you want to ride the bandwagon or build it?” Fans come and fans go. Loyalties wax and wane. Fans jump from bandwagon to bandwagon.

Discipleship is hard work. But when I consider the love that God has for his people and when I consider the price God was willing to pay for me, discipleship is the most appropriate response.

Enjoy the end of the season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Before you comment on the person on the field, consider his commitment and consider the pain he endures. We are called to something greater than fanfare and, here is the good news. When we endure the battle we will emerge as champions.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: It’s time for new things

Posted on 10 January 2019 by LeslieM

It is a new year and that is always a good time for us to evaluate our lives and all the things we like and do not like that is a part of our lives. I am so grateful that God loves me enough to allow me to start over whenever I mess up and make a mistake. With God, I do not have to wait until New Years Eve to start over or to start something new in my life. God allows me to start new every morning if need be. Some things in life we want to (or need to) change are easy and we have no problem at all making the change. However, we all know that there are some things in life that are very difficult to change in our lives. Some things in life feel like we have been struggling with for years but, we can do it. God will give us the help we need to become victorious over things that we may tend to struggle with and have a hard time changing or letting go.

Philippians 4:13

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. NLT

If I can encourage you to do anything different this year, it would be to go to church, to read your Bible, and to pray and talk to God. If you already do those things, then I want to encourage you to do those things a little more and also at the same time encourage someone else to join you. I know at times we do not like change but I think that change can be exciting and fun. We are very thrilled about changes at our church starting in January. Right now we have church services on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. One other thing you can do this year would be to get involved with community service projects right here in Deerfield Beach. Here at CLF Church, we will be feeding the homeless the first Saturday of every month. We also help people with code violations the second Saturday of every month. We even have a one-time emergency assistance food pantry to help people that find themselves going through a hard time financially. It is always exciting when God adds something to your life and I am looking forward to our community outreaches this year. I love our Sunday church services as well because I am always thrilled to meet new people and to have a great experience with God and having Him change lives, help people with hurts, and to introduce the God I know to some people that maybe do not know Him. Please pray for us as we pray for you. I want to pray the Bible verse below over your life and I believe that with God’s help you can do the things that you know you need to do and have wanted to do in your life.

Ephesians 3:16

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. NLT

Tony Guadagnino is the pastor at Christian Love Fellowship Church, located at 801 SE 10 St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-428-8980 or visit www.clfministries.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: Motivation

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

The great Jewish thinker, Maimonides, wrote in the 12th century: “Caring for the health and well-being of the body is one of the ways of serving G d.” And he immediately explains why: “One is unable to think clearly and comprehend truth if he is unwell.”

If your mind is cloudy, you may lack moral clarity to know what’s right. While battling with illness, we may not find the stamina to battle the ills of the world. That’s why we need to look after our bodies. A healthy body is not in itself our life’s purpose; it helps us fulfill our purpose. It is a vehicle that transports us towards goodness, but it is not the destination.

Jewish tradition provides no excuse for being unhealthy. On the contrary, it gives the best reason possible to live healthy: life has meaning and purpose, and each day is precious. Only if life has meaning is it worth taking care of. The risks of high cholesterol, heavy smoking and drug use are a concern only to one who values life. The threat of a shorter lifespan means nothing to someone who sees life as pointless.

We are the healthiest generation in recent history, and our life expectancy is reaching biblical proportions. This means we have more time and energy to fulfill our purpose — to elevate our corner of the world, and tip the scales towards true goodness.

Are you lacking the “motivation” to work out? Have personal trainers, buying exercise class cards, paying for a monthly gym membership and posting motivational quotes on your refrigerator not worked? Are you feeling guilty? Fear not! Perhaps a spiritual approach to working out can get you going. Deeper motivation and insight into the spiritual value of fitness can elevate your experience of working out, which will help you develop a positive relationship with it.

Your body is valuable — and not entirely yours

You were created by a power greater than yourself. Your body is not yours; it is divine “property” entrusted to your care and responsibility. Your body is, therefore, sacred. Thus, working out and keeping your body healthy is not just good for you; it is a critical component in your obligation of protecting and maintaining the treasured gift you were entrusted with: your body. Just as you are charged with protecting and preserving your environment and definitely not harming it, you must also not take your own body for granted. It is your cosmic responsibility to treat your body with respect in every way, which includes getting regular exercise.

Working out helps you to live a meaningful life

When you are healthy, you can concentrate on the things that are important to you. Most significantly, a sound body allows you to focus on your soul, enabling you to fulfill your divine mission in the world and live a meaningful life. Just as the body needs exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, and occasional vitamins or medicine, the soul needs nourishment. This nourishment includes an awareness and connection to a transcendent power, and a unique purpose in life. It’s important that your physical fitness have a spiritual component — an appreciation of the higher purpose of maintaining good health.

Exercise

When exercising think about your body as a sacred entity: You are fine tuning the “vehicle” of your soul’s journey on earth.

Happy New Year and good luck keeping your resolutions.

Special Thanks to my friend and colleague Rabbi Simon Jacobson from Meaningful Life Center — A great source of meditation and information from a Torah perspective.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: The greatest gift

Posted on 26 December 2018 by LeslieM

The custom of exchanging gifts during Christmas has long been a part of the season’s charm, and many retailers aggressively promote their products as the best and greatest gifts for friends and loved ones. Everything from the latest electronic devices to gift certificates, cars, jewelry and clothing are often touted as must-have items for those on your list. The reality is that in the days immediately after Christmas, many of those gifts are going to be returned in exchange for something else. What may seem like a great gift from the perspective of the giver may not be valued as such in the eyes of the receiver.

Over 2000 years ago, the world received a gift unlike any other. In the insignificant and humble confines of a manger, God unveiled the depths of His love in the person of Jesus. More than an act in time, it was a statement in eternity. Better than a solution to a problem, it was the answer to man’s condition. Much more than a mere present, it was heaven’s gift for earth’s need. In John 3:16, Jesus explained it this way, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

In this, we see the greatest love. History and literature are comprised of many supposed great love stories: Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Sampson and Delilah, Brad and Angelina. But none of them could ever be the greatest love, for they were all conditional and temporary. The Bible represents God’s love as unconditional and eternal. What about the greatest gift? Would that be money, diamonds, status or influence? Many would readily accept such gifts, but would they bring lasting satisfaction? Jesus is God’s only Son who made the ultimate sacrifice, His life, for mankind. There’s no greater gift.

Years ago, during her talk show, Oprah Winfrey was preparing to give away brand new cars to her studio audience. Her staff carefully selected the most deserving from the thousands of letters that were submitted. The audience on that day was there by special invitation only. The greatest invitation, however, is seen in God’s offer to “whoever.” His gift is available to all. Those who were chosen to receive new cars from Oprah had to meet certain criteria. The stipulation was that they had to be without a car, or badly in need of a new one and financially unable to purchase it on their own. The greatest stipulation though, comes from God. He only requires us to believe in His Son.

Our society is hooked on the idea of exemptions. IRS exemptions, diplomatic immunity, special privileges and duty-free status are advantages that we treasure. God offers the greatest exemption in sparing those who believe in His Son from spiritual death or eternal separation from Himself. The Bible teaches that eternal punishment awaits the wicked and those who reject God’s gift. Believers are promised the greatest benefit, however. We all know the advantage of a good insurance policy, paid vacations, performance bonuses and stock options when considering employment offers. We seek to get the most benefit out of our decisions and actions in life. God promises everlasting life to those who accept His gift. Eternity will be experienced and enjoyed with Him.

Whatever gifts you have been given this Christmas, embrace them and appreciate the expressions of love from those who gave to you. Consider God’s great gift as well and embrace all that it provides. Keep in mind that our gifts to each other will only bring satisfaction for this life, and only for a time. God’s great gift, however, will affect both this life and the next. His alone is the greatest gift, revealing the greatest love, providing the greatest invitation and greatest stipulation, and offering the greatest exemption and greatest benefit. Who wouldn’t want that? Peace!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Prepare — Advent is here

Posted on 19 December 2018 by LeslieM

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

Mark 6:31a (ESV)

It is a happy time of the year. With Chanukah, Christmas, and friends and families getting together, December is a month we look forward to. For children, it is the “happiest time of the year.” And I hope that you all are having a happy December.

Along with the happiness of December comes the holiday preparation. We have cards to write, presents to buy, cookies to bake, meals to cook and various parties for work, for school, among neighbors, families and friends. It is busy. And, in the business of December, we need to take a break.

For many Christian traditions, the period of time between Dec. 1 and Christmas is called Advent. Advent is also a time of preparation, but a different kind of preparation. Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Whether it be in the manger or in his glory, Advent is a season of preparation.

When we greet each other and ask “Are you ready?” Our answers usually are “The cards are written, the presents are bought, the cookies are baked, the parties are scheduled, yes, I am prepared.” Advent asks this question: “Are you ready for Jesus?” A fair response to this question is another question: “How do I prepare for the coming of Jesus?”

At Zion and many other Christian churches, we prepare for Jesus with worship. We hold an additional worship service during the middle of the week during Advent and we call this our Advent Vespers service. A vespers service is a quiet, contemplative worship experience with dim lights, candles, singing and prayer.

I remember introducing Advent Vespers to a congregation I previously served and the response I received was “Oh, great, another thing to put on my calendar.”

I found this response to be revealing. First, it tells me that our typical schedule is cluttered during December. We have a tendency to say yes to every invitation. It is alright to say no every once in a while. You have to make time. Nobody hands it to you on a silver platter.

Second, it tells me that holiday preparations have eclipsed “Holy Day” preparations. Not only do we need to make time for family, we need to make time for God.

Third, we have treated worship as an obligation as opposed to a privilege. It is a privilege to serve the Lord. We worship not because we have to, but because we want to.

Taking all of these things in mind, I realized that I need to change my approach. So, I said during the announcements: “Consider this an opportunity to retreat from the hustle and bustle of December.” While December exhausts us, Advent replenishes us. We move away from the noise of shoppers and piped in music at the mall to quiet and contemplative worship. We move away from the bright and blinking lights along the boulevard to dim lighting and candles. In every way, Advent is a break from the craziness of December, and people who have attended our Advent Vespers service have thanked me because they need that retreat in the middle of the week.

Advent isn’t the only time that we need to take a break. For those of us who observe Advent, it is a scheduled time for quiet contemplation and reflection — not a holy obligation but a holy privilege.

It is my prayer that when Christmas comes and goes and the New Year approaches that you schedule quality time with God. Take a break from the world and set yourself apart, as Jesus did.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: We like to give

Posted on 12 December 2018 by LeslieM

It is that time of the year when we give gifts to others. It is the time of year when we do not think about ourselves but others and what they want or need. God knew in His unlimited wisdom that we would need help with our lives. Not only do I find that I need God’s help. I have also come to realize that I need His help every day of my life. God does not always give me what I want, but He always gives me what I need.

ROMANS 12:6-8

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

NLT

Our goal in serving God is to be able to continue to serve Him throughout our whole lives. Growing up in church, I always heard the phrase, “stay full of the things of God.” It took me a long time to understand what that actually meant. When my car runs, it uses gas and I have to fill it up when it gets empty so it will continue to run and I can use it. So, when I give out things that God has blessed me with in life I need to find spiritual things in my life so I can fill back up the same way I fill my car with gas. The more love, compassion, peace and hope we give out, then the more we need to stay full of the things of God. We can read the bible, pray, go to church, or even sing hymns and worship songs to fill back up. What a great series of events to experience in our lives. We can continually give and receive.

When you get a gift, either you like it and use it or you do not like it and hide it somewhere. Gifts from the Father are to be used and not wasted or just put on the shelf. Gifts from God come as He wills (any gift at any time) for the profit of all. You should not only welcome the gifts from God but also expect them in your life. We all know it is better to give than to receive. However, if we do not receive, then we have nothing to give. We have a responsibility to use the spiritual gifts in our own lives. God has blessed our lives with many different gifts and there are many people that can use them. You have the gifts, you might as well use them instead of letting them go to waste. The good thing is that no one person has all the gifts. It takes many different parts to make one complete church body. Gifts do not clash or compete but they all work together to serve the same goal or purpose. Giving gifts is not about serving your agenda and making you happy. It is about serving others and bringing joy to others. We can all show others love, mercy, compassion and kindness. May God bless your holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tony Guadagnino is the pastor at Christian Love Fellowship Church, located at 801 SE 10 St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-428-8980 or visit www.clfministries.org.

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CLERGY CORNER: 80 years since Kristallnacht Chanukah – The Miracle

Posted on 06 December 2018 by LeslieM

For me, this miracle is most vividly expressed in the following episode.

It was the eighth night of Chanukah in Kiel, Germany, a small town with a Jewish population of 500 (Germany at the time had a Jewish population of 500,000). That year, 1931, the last night Chanukah fell on Friday evening, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, spiritual leader of the town, was hurrying to light the Menorah before the Shabbat set in.

Directly across the Posner’s home stood the Nazi headquarters in Kiel, displaying the dreaded Nazi Party flag in the cold December night. With the eight lights of the Menorah glowing brightly in her window, Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, snapped a photo of the Menorah right before Shabbat, and captured the Nazi building and flag in the background.

Mrs. Posner wrote a few lines in German on the back of the photo:

Chanukah, 5692 (1931). ‘Judea dies,’ thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever,’ thus respond the Chanukah lights.

If you lived at that time in Kiel, or anywhere in Germany, what seemed to be more powerful and everlasting? The menorah or the swastika? One year later, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and the Nazis held a torch-lit procession through the famous Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to celebrate Hitler’s seizure of power (on Jan. 30, 1933).

That gate became the symbol of the Nazi regime. Dozens of parades, motorcades, celebrations and rallies were held by the Brandenburg Gate. Hundreds of thousands of German would gather at that beautiful site, the symbol of Berlin’s splendor and power, to salute the Fuhrer and his 1000-Year-Reich.

Then came the onset of the Holocaust and the Final Solution — 80 years ago, on Nov. 9, 1938, with Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” when 30,000 Jews were deported to Concentration Camps, hundreds beaten to death, thousands of shuls, Jewish homes, and stores burnt to the ground.

80 years have passed. A few nights ago, I spoke to my colleague, Rabbi Yehudah Teichtel, Chief Rabbi of Berlin. And this is what he shared with me.

A few days ago he went to visit the President of Germany, Frank Walter Steinmeier, to discuss the 80th anniversary since the onset of the Holocaust.

Rabbi Teichtel shared with the German President the words that he heard from the person who sent him to Berlin, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, that in the place where we saw the greatest darkness we must bring in the greatest light.

So the President of Germany said to the Chabad Rabbi of Berlin that he wants Germany to put up this coming Chanukah (which falls out a few weeks after the 80th anniversary) a massive grand Menorah right at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in the exact spot where Hitler stood and gave his fiery speeches on the urgent need to rid the world from the bacteria of the Jewish people, their Torah and their G-d. [The menorah was put up and lit starting Dec. 2].

And then the German President asked Rabbi Teichtel if he himself can have the honor to light the menorah?!

And the good Rabbi said, “Yes, of course. You will be lighting the Shamash, that first candle from which we kindle all the other candles.”

So, this Chanukah 2018, [people could] go to the Brandenburg Gate and observe the President of Germany lighting the Shamash of the Chanukah menorah of Chabad in Berlin in the spot where the greatest enemy of the Jewish people stood just a few decades ago.

So, now, friends come back with me to the photo taken in 1931, in Kiel Germany. A wise Jewish woman, Rebbetzin Rachel Posner, wrote on her photo: Chanukah, 5692 (1931). ‘Judea dies,’ thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever,’ thus respond the Chanukah lights.

I ask you: Who was right?!

And by the way, both the menorah lit in Kiel in 1931 and the photo survived World War II, because the Rabbi and his wife fled to Israel in 1934, and their grandson Yehudah Mansbuch inherited both and donated them to Yad V’shem.

Yehudah lives today in the city of Haifa with a large family. And each Chanukah, Yad V’shem delivers to his home for eight days the Menorah used by his grandfather in Germany, on the window sill opposite the Swastika. There, in home, in the eternal Jewish homeland, he lights the menorah with his children. And he shows them each year the photo his grandmother took and her inscription.

So I ask you, who was right?! Who triumphed the swastika or the menorah?

Special thanks to my friend and colleague Rabbi YY Jacobson for putting this story on paper.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: … freely you have received, freely give

Posted on 29 November 2018 by LeslieM

Many of our most fervent prayers include reminders of lessons our Lord teaches us. A number of years ago I read a prayer, used at the end of a worship service, to dismiss the congregation. The prayer included an important reminder – “freely you have received, freely give.” I have used this prayer of dismissal ever since. It seems particularly important at this time of year.

Our Lord created a world with seasonal cycles. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that “to every thing there is a season . . . a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” Western Christianity observes the time of planting in the spring of each year. The observance is called Rogation Days and includes this prayer for a bountiful harvest: “Almighty God, we beseech thee to pour forth thy blessing upon this land, and to give us a fruitful season.” And then, as the seasons of the years progress, most religions and cultures have traditions of giving thanks, during the harvest season, for what our good earth has provided. Here in the United States, we give thanks, on Thanksgiving Day, often times with this prayer: “Almighty God, we give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase.”

Our Lord’s promise to us is that we will freely receive what we truly need. However, there is a caveat to this promise which is spelled out in the book of Deuteronomy: “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessings of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.” What does this mean? It may be helpful to think of this giving and receiving as our bank account with God. He will always provide us with the basics — his unconditional love and support — but if we look to receive anything beyond that, then what we can expect is dependent upon what we give back to God from what he has given us. If we give back nothing, if we put nothing in our bank account with him, then we cannot expect to receive anything beyond the basics. Our relationship with God is simple; all we need to do is listen and live according to his lessons.

Why is the freely giving part particularly important at this time of year? The answer is obvious. Most governments, institutions, and churches are making their plans and budgets for the coming year in support of the needs of our commonweal. Whether these needs may be met is dependent, to a great degree, on the willingness of God’s people, to generously give back a portion of the time, treasure and talent they have received from Him. Can our God count on each of us? I recently saw a survey which indicated that charitable giving increased in 2017 by 5 percent. This sounds encouraging, but the survey also indicated that current giving is about 2.5 percent of income, whereas it was 3.3 percent during the Great Depression. Not a hopeful trend!

If we are to model our lives based on the teachings of our Lord, and if we are to uphold the brave words in our Declaration of Independence to further “preserve and protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” then the challenge to be met by God’s people is clear. When we gather at our Thanksgiving tables this year, we must thank God for the blessings we have “freely received” from him, and then commit to “freely give” back to him a generous portion of those blessings so that in this world, his will be done. Holy Scripture teaches us that “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” The harvest is God’s will and we are the laborers that will bring it to fruition. May our God bless us all during this Thanksgiving season.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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