Christmas Eve Service at UCC

Just wanted to post a few pictures from the Christmas Eve services at the Unitarian Church in Charleston. This was the early service with lots and lots of kids. There was even one dog in attendance.  The later service will be a bit more formal and orderly, but the 5pm service was a lot of fun.

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Posted via email from Carnellm’s Posterous

Lionel Trains Mean Christmas

Lionel Polar ExpressFound this very cool Lionel train set on Amazon. When I was a kid I had a great Lionel set. In reality it wasn’t much more than an oval of track, a steam engine, and a few cars. But I loved it dearly and it was one of those that makes you think back and go “why on earth did I ever get rid of that.”  I went from Lionel, to HO, to N gauge, and now I have mostly British OO trains.  But I still miss those big Lionel.  The LEGO railroad that my son and I build under the Christmas tree is nice, but there is something about the sound of the Lionel cars over that three rail track that just can’t be beat.

The True Work of Christmas

The Work of Christmas

When the song of angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
    to find the lost,
    to heal the broken,
    to feed the hungry,
    to release the prisoner,
    to rebuild the nations,
    to bring peace among brothers,
    to make music in the heart.
          — Howard Thurman

Find Out If That Christmas Toy Is Safe

toysWhen we buy presents for our children and other kids we mainly concentrate on what they want, how much it costs, and how long it is going to last. My wife also thinks about how the toy is going to feel when she steps on it in the middle of the night, but that is about as close to safety thoughts as many of get.

But, many potential Christmas toys bear unwanted gifts — in the form of lead, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic, bromine and mercury. So how can you tell what’s safe? Start with the product rankings at You can search by toy name, brand, and type. Doing some shopping and need a quick answer? Send a SMS/text message to 41411 with the text, “healthytoys [search term],” where the search term is the name of a toy, type of toy, manufacturer, or retailer. You’ll get instant search results straight to your phone.

Note, this tip comes to you by way of LighterFootsteps. Please check them out!

Their common welfare was my business!

It is getting to be the holiday season. I have to admit, this is my favorite time of year. I love the weather, I love the mood, and I love the food. (Especially pumpkin pancakes and muffins, but that is a different post.) But, I am also a bit melancholy during all the celebrations. Remember in A Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Christmas Present pulls aside his gown to reveal the two horrifying children? That is me.

Ghost of Christmas PresentI have always identified with The Ghost of Christmas Present. If I have one true career goal in life, it is to be him. From the size to the dress to the mannerism, he is who I want to be. But just as he hides the two children symbolizing Want and Ignorance, I hold these concerns within my heart as I go through the season.

The one I am worrying about today, and many of us are worrying about due to the recent financial crisis, is Want. While I and my friends may cut back because money is a bit tight, there exists true poverty in this world. While I worry about paying over $3.00 for a gallon of gas, there are people with no shoes to walk. While you worry about not being able to go to Starbucks every morning, there are children who go days with no meals or clean water. Why I worry about my children’s college and field trips and Christmas presents, there are parent out there wonder which of their children to let die because they can’t feed or take care of them both.

Remember this from the interchange between Scrooge and Jacob Marley:
Ebenezer: But it was only that you were an honest man of business!
Jacob Marley: BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!

It is those thoughts that travel with me, and should travel with you, during this season and the rest of the year. We are deluding ourselves if we think there can ever be world peace or stability while there is still so much poverty in the world. And can, or should, any of us truly have inner peace and stability while no that those two children sheltered by the Ghost of Christmas Present have not been attended to?