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Airline doesn't lose Christmas gifts--it gives them

WestJet Christmas Miracle: Spirit of Giving (Credit: WestJet via Youtube)Imagine waiting in line to board an airplane and meeting Santa Claus, who asks you what you want for Christmas.  You smile and tell him your wish list.  When you arrive at your destination, the gifts you requested are waiting for you on the baggage carousel.

A Miracle at 34,000 Feet?  No, it's an act of benevolence by WestJet, a low-cost Canadian airliner.  Last Christmas, they surprised passengers on two flights in just this way.  This year, they went to Nuevo Renacer in the Dominican Republic, where they brought a sleigh in which residents sat and gave Saint Nick their wishes through a video screen.  The next day, the residents returned to find a party on a snowy beach and their gifts waiting.  They received everything from a horse to a skateboard.

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Is Jesus a Christmas idol?

The Bambino Gesu of Aracoeli enshrined within the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli (Credit: Matthias Kabel via was setting out our nativity scene at home yesterday when the question struck me: is this the right way to treat Jesus?  It wasn't just that our manger set is inaccurate (the Wise Men in our nativity didn't arrive in Bethlehem for some two years after Christmas, but that's another story).  And I did buy the olive wood set in Bethlehem, so it can claim geographical proximity.  It's that we kept Jesus in a box in the attic for eleven months, then set him on our coffee table for a few weeks before he goes back in storage.

Is this how many of us see our Lord?

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'Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church!'

Atheist billboard campaign for Christmas 2014, Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church!  I'm too old for fairy tales - billboard (Credit: American Atheists)"Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church!  I'm too old for fairy tales."  So writes a young girl to Santa on billboards appearing across the Bible Belt.  American Atheists have launched the campaign, which will run until Christmas Eve.

Their spokesman explains: "Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed.  It's OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely OK to tell your children the truth."  Yes, but which "truth"?

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NFL player's amazing response to Ferguson

Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints speaks during an interview on CNN about his Facebook post that he wrote in response to the Ferguson grand jury verdict  (Credit: CNN via Youtube) Benjamin Watson plays football for the New Orleans Saints.  After the grand jury in Ferguson chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in connection with the death of Michael Brown, Watson posted a response on Facebook.  His post has gone viral and led to national media appearances, including an extended CNN interview.

I urge you to read Watson's entire statement, as it expresses eloquently the pain, conflicted emotions, and confusion so many feel in reacting to this tragedy and its aftermath.  Here's how it closes:

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Why has Christianity tripled in Manhattan?

A view from the south corner of 5th Avenue and West 55th St of the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church in midtown Manhattan, August 26, 2013  (Credit: Stephen Weppler via Flickr) We began the Advent season yesterday.  "Advent" translates the Latin word for "arrival."  This month we will celebrate Jesus' first coming and anticipate his second.  When he first entered our world, he came as a servant who would die for our sins.  When he returns, he will come as a conqueror who will rule the universe.

We are one day closer to the final Advent than ever before.  How can we be ready?

Consider what God has been doing in New York City.  In 1984, the city was in trouble.  A murder spree beginning that year culminated with 2,400 homicides 10 years later.  The church was fragmented and viewed as irrelevant by the larger culture.

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