Christmas Time Is Here (by Daniela Andrade)

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Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share

Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there

Christmas time is here
We’ll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year…

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#ShortNews: Chicago archdiocese could close 100 churches in massive reconfiguration

A radical overhaul in the nation’s third-largest Roman Catholic archdiocese could shutter many of the Chicago church’s houses of worship by 2030 as it reckons with decaying buildings and an expected shortage of priests, the church’s chief operating officer confirmed Friday.

Based primarily on those projections and on future capital needs, the priests who attended the meetings say as many as 100 churches could close over the next 14 years. No cost-saving target has been announced for this plan, but Chief Operating Officer Betsy Bohlen says the initiative is less about economics and more about fortifying the church’s mission.

While about a quarter of the 351 parishes in the archdiocese now receive financial aid, the archdiocese will weigh three additional factors when assessing the sustainability of parishes: capital needs, pastor availability and mission vitality.

Read full story: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-archdiocese-parish-reorganization-met-20160205-story.html

#ShortNews: Pope Francis says he’s worried about homosexuality in the priesthood

Pope Francis has been quoted in a soon-to-be published book as saying that having gays in the clergy “is something that worries me” and remarking that some societies are considering homosexuality a “fashionable” lifestyle.

The book, based on four hours of conversations the two had in August at the Vatican, will be published in 10 languages next week. Its Spanish title is “La Fuerza de la vocacion,” (“The Strength of Vocation”).

He said candidates with “neuroses or strong unbalances” should not be accepted “to the priesthood nor to (other forms of) consecrated life.” Still, Francis, as he has in the past, stressed that gay Catholics contribute to the life of the church. He said the church must always remember that “they are persons who will live in the service of the church, of the Christian community, of the people of God. Let’s never forget this perspective.”

Francis in his papacy has sought to stress that while obeying church teachings, the faithful must also be compassionate and open to others with different views. As Catholic teaching considers homosexual activity sinful, and that everyone, except married heterosexual couples, should abstain from sex.

Read more: https://www.apnews.com/420b7a6215874971bff9c98577b6c5c5

#ShortNews: What’s next for religious freedom in 2019?

The Deseret News spent the past six months investigating the present and future of religious freedom.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; “Today’s religious freedom debates are different than in the past. Religious freedom has gotten political. It’s dividing people along lines different than before… We see people who believe in God in contests with people who don’t, or people who value religion and recognize that religion holds society together in contests with people who reject this.”

Johnnie Moore, commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, member of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, ordained Southern Baptist pastor; “Religious freedom makes building trust and understanding easier. People aren’t fearful of sharing their point of view. Rather than scream at each other and have big public fights, people need to sit down in good faith around the table and consider how to move forward. People should not be discriminated against, but religious freedom cannot be compromised.”

Montserrat Alvarado, vice president and executive director of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; “Religious freedom is about deeply held convictions. No two people, even if they go to the same church or ascribe to the same deity, believe the same thing in exactly the same way.”

Rachel Laser, President and CEO of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, an advocacy organization seeking to protect religious freedom by reducing government entanglement with faith groups; “We don’t have true religious freedom when one narrow set of religious beliefs is foisted on the rest of us. True religious freedom is about everybody’s right to believe what they want to believe, to choose their own spiritual brew and maybe change their beliefs throughout their lifetime. It’s not about using religion as a tool to justify harm to other people.”

Robin Fretwell Wilson, law professor and director of the family law and policy program at the University of Illinois, consultant on state religious freedom legislation, including the 2015 Utah laws balancing LGBT and religious rights.

Rabbi David Saperstein, senior adviser for strategy and policy with the Union for Reform Judaism and former U.S. ambassador at-large for international religious freedom; “How do we balance religious freedom claims against civil rights claims?”

Asma Uddin, senior scholar at the Religious Freedom Center.

To read more what Faith leaders and policymakers weigh in please click here; https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900044866/whats-next-for-religious-freedom-in-2019-faith-leaders-and-policymakers-weigh-in.html

Waiting in Expectation

Waiting in Expectation

Waiting patiently for God always includes joyful expectation. Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present. When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.

All through the Gospels Jesus tells us to keep awake and stay alert. And Paul says, “Brothers and sisters … the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light” (Romans 13:11-12). It is this joyful expectation of God’s coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.

The Challenge of Aging

Waiting patiently in expectation does not necessarily get easier as we become older. On the contrary, as we grow in age we are tempted to settle down in a routine way of living and say: “Well, I have seen it all. … There is nothing new under the sun. … I am just going to take it easy and take the days as they come.” But in this way our lives lose their creative tension. We no longer expect something really new to happen. We become cynical or self-satisfied or simply bored.

The challenge of aging is waiting with an ever-greater patience and an ever- stronger expectation. It is living with an eager hope. It is trusting that through Christ “we have been admitted into God’s favour … and look forward exultantly to God’s glory” (Romans 5:2).Read More »

Advent Week-2: He Choose us in Christ before the foundation of the world

Think back to a time when you were chosen for some special privilege or honor. Maybe your employer chose you for a position over other qualified applicants. Or perhaps your teammates chose you as captain because of you ability to lead others. It’s a good feeling to be singled out in such a way. Or think about how you felt when your future husband or wife chose to marry you and spend the rest of their life with you.

We believe that God chose Mary, before creation of the world, to be the Mother of God. And because he had chosen her for that unique role, he prepared her in a special way. He preserved her from original sin and gave her to two devout, faithful parents.

The God who chose Mary has also chosen you–and from the beginning of creation as well. He knew you. He intended for you to be born. He wanted you so much, in fact, that he sent his Son to redeem you.Read More »