Category Archives: Christmas

A Blast to the Past

Originally Published September 23, 2011

America seems to have a love affair with guns. But has it always been this way? Let’s take a closer look.

In 1791 [1], The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed.

It says: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. [2]

Why did the Founding Fathers find it necessary to include this amendment in the framework of the U.S. Constitution? While there is much [3] debate on the issue, whether it is a civil liberty or state right, one thing rings true: Citizens have always owned and used guns. The Founding Fathers perhaps felt that it was necessary to keep the Government from usurping power over its citizens, much like England did in pre-revolutionary war times. Some 80 years later, in 1871, we saw the formation of the National Rifle Association. [4].

Back then, vigilantism was the law of the land. Those with the most guns and fastest shots, ruled the day. Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, Arizona. Hand guns and rifles reigned as the Supreme law of the Old West. This type of thinking, dominated the early 20th Century, especially in the 1920’s which saw the rise of the Gangster Mentality. It wasn’t until 1934 that [5] President Franklin Roosevelt introduced the [6] National Firearms Act in an attempt to control automatic machine gun weapons.

In 1994, The Federal Assault Weapons Ban [7] was enacted. It was an attempt to control the use and distribution of semi-automatic assault type weapons. The trouble was, there was no definition of what an assault weapon is. In addition, a sunset clause was written into this ban. This allowed the law to expire one decade later, in 2004.

Arizona’s Gun Laws

Arizona however has maintained that the 2nd Amendment is a state right, and has systematically dismantled gun control legislation. [8] Currently, only a simple background check is required to purchase a weapon. Anyone over the age of 21, is allowed to carry a concealed weapon. [9] No training, is required. In fact about the only places you can NOT carry a gun, is if a sign is posted outside, in a court house, or the state capital in Phoenix. Legislation is pending, to allow carrying a weapon onto state colleges and universities. The gun laws of today, do not seem any different then they were in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. [10]

The Way Points

Let’s scrutinize some of the results of these gun laws.

University of Texas at Austin, Bell Tower

University of Texas at Austin, Bell Tower

In 1966, [11] Charles Witman at the University of Texas Belltower, in Austin, Texas, killed 16 people, and injured 32. He went to a hardware store, purchased an M1 Carbine.

In 1970, [12] on May 4, Four Ohio National Guardsmen killed 4 students, and injured 9. Why? The students were protesting the U.S. Government’s incursion of the Vietnam war into Cambodia. The guardsman fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds.

In 1984, [13] James Huberty, at a Mc Donald’s in San Ysidro, California (near the U.S./Mexican Border) took 21 innocent lives, and injured 19 others. He used a 9mm Uzi Semi-Automatic.

In 1996, [14] students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School. They killed 13 people, and injured 21, before turning their 9 mm handguns, on themselves.

In 2002, [15] John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo aimed their Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic .223. They killed 10 people, and critically injured 3 others.

In 2007, [16] Seung-Hui Cho at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, killed 32, and injured 25. Weapons of choice: 9 mm, Glock 19, and .22 Calibre Walther semi-automatic.

On January 8, 2011 [17] Accused shooter, Jared Lee Loughner went to a supermarket Congress on your Corner, with U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords [18]. He fatally shot 6 people, and injured 13, including Giffords. He used a 9 mm Glock.

Tucson says Yes to Civility

Showing little deference to those killed or injured in the January, 2011 Tucson shootings, Pima County Republican Party auctioned off a Glock 23 in August, 2011.[19] It is similar to what accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner had used, just 8 months earlier. This action drew severe criticism from the Tucson / Pima County Community. Republican Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik,[20] was present at the Tucson says YES to Civility anti-gun rally just a few weeks ago. He represented the other side of the Republican Party that did NOT support the gun raffle. Tucson’s Green Party Mayoral candidate Mary De Camp had this to say: I think the Green Party should auction off a gun safe. I respect the right of other people to bear arms, though I am a pacifist myself…

Current Gun Laws

Two things seem to fuel gun violence in Arizona. One was the Assault Weapons Ban sunset which occurred in 2004. [22] The expiration of this ban, provided Jared Lee Loughner with legal means to purchase a high capacity 30 round clip for his 9 mm Glock. Secondly, the Arizona legislature is considering allowing concealed weapons on Arizona’s college’s and campuses. [23]

These two items can only foster security and safety issues. What prevents any of these events from occurring again? Guns do NOT kill people. People do. But we need better screening and training, to prevent future tragedies such as these from happening. Perhaps just like in the movies of the Old West, the bad guy will help us out, by wearing a Black Hat.

“I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.”
— Henry David Thoreau — Civil Disobedience

The Silent Witness of the Christmas Star


The Silent Witness of the Christmas Star

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV)

Many of us will glance at the Heavens above, and see the vast expanse of the universe for a brief moment. One day, God wrote a message of love in the stars.  “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matt 2:2 NIV)

The Creator of the universe used his finger to announce to a weary and sin soaked world, that He has extended His mercy to mankind.

God’s offer of reconciliation is announced each and every day, by the presence of the stars and the moon. We don’t have to wait for a special one-of-a-kind event to appear in the Heavens. We can claim God’s offer: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

Many see the little Lord Jesus in the manger, at Christmas time, and never give a second thought.

Sharpen your gaze into eternity: “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10 NIV)

The Moon and the Stars, bear a silent witness of God’s mercy which is extended to all, each and every day. The true message of Christmas is reconciliation with the Creator of the universe.

Christmas Presence


The Colorado Blue Spruce Christmas tree was trimmed with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. It was jubilantly displayed in the corner of the room, with it’s bright shining star blazing atop. A beacon of good things to come.

Children ooh’d and ahh’d as its delightful scent settled in the warm cozy home. On Christmas day, it was decked with presents and all sorts of wonderment. A tie for Dad. A sweater for Mom. And lots of toys and goodies for the kids. All of course, courtesy of Santa! Like a Norman Rockwell painting, it spurred imagination, and punctuated anticipation.

Christmas sets in motion the gears of business. Holiday jingles are a reminder of the excess created by the man-made Christmas. The credo seems to be:

“Angels we have heard on high,
Telling us go out and buy.”

Christmas should serve as a reminder to us all. The true meaning of Christmas is lost in the busyness of the season. Merry Christmas becomes just another greeting.

The essential nature of Christmas is not found from without. It is found from within. As we gaze at the manger displays, all we see is a baby with straw and two bewildered parents. If you are fortunate, perhaps some animals.

What we should see is God himself becoming one of us. He came humbly. To buy us back from the clutches of the man-made world. When we see a manger, we should also see a cross. The King of the Universe paid the ultimate sacrifice, to buy us back. We don’t want to see that. We want to see something tangible: presents under the Christmas Tree.

What God wants, is presence. He wants to be with you, as you sojourn along the path of life. Jesus will not force his way into your life. Like a friend, you must open the door of your heart and invite him in. The greatest Christmas present, is presence.

The Light in God’s Window

“The Light in God’s Window”

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32 NIV)

An almost legendary symbol in some of the older movies was the light left burning in the window as a silent messenger to tell an estranged loved one that he or she was welcome to come home. A modern variation of that theme is the popular song from the 70’s, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” But this theme is much older than that. God lit a light in his “window” nearly 2000 years ago.

God threw a party at his Son’s birth, and sent out two different invitations. The first took the form of an angelic band sent to bring the happy news to a group of Jewish shepherds. God’s chosen people, the Jews, we’re being told of the coming of their long-awaited Messiah. But the rest of humanity, the Gentiles, were not excluded from the festivities. The second invitation, a star in the heavens, bore silent witness that God had kept his promise to them as well.

That star truly was the light in God’s window. Its message should not be lost today amidst all the man-made glitter of this season. Its message should especially not be ignored by Christians. Our loving Father in Heaven is still waiting to welcome the prodigal son (or daughter) home. As he did 2000 years ago, God is still welcoming both strangers and wayward sons alike to come home.

Christmas is a time for unbelievers to come and adore Him, and embrace him as Lord and Savior. But it is also a time for Christians who have left their first love relationship with Jesus to return home. A birthday party is not much fun to attend if you’re not on speaking terms with the guest of honor. As he promised, Jesus is ready to forgive and receive those who will truly repent and ask his forgiveness.

If this is your situation, you have everything to gain by coming home. If it isn’t, then why not share this message of hope with someone who needs to hear it? The light in God’s window is still lit!

This is an article Dave Sparks, wrote several years ago. (Reprinted by permission)

Barryington Bunny


Once upon a time in a large forest there lived a very furry bunny. He had one lop ear, a tiny black nose, and unusually shiny eyes. His name was Barrington.

Barrington was not really a very handsome bunny. He was brown and speckled and his ears didn’t stand up right. But he could hop, and he was, as I have said, very furry.

In a way, winter is fun for bunnies. After all, it gives them an opportunity to hop in the snow and then turn around to see where they have hopped. So, in a way, winter was fun for Barrington.

But in another way winter made Barrington sad. For, you see, winter marked the time where all of the animal families got together in their cozy homes to celebrate Christmas. He could hop, and he was very furry. But as far as Barrington knew, he was the only bunny in the forest.

When Christmas Eve finally came, Barrington did not feel like going home all by himself. So he decided he would hop for awhile in the clearing at the center of the forest.

Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Barrington made tracks in the fresh snow.

Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Then he cocked his head and looked back at the wonderful designs he had made.

“Bunnies,” he thought to himself, “can hop. And they are very warm, too, because of how furry they are.”

(But Barrington didn’t really know whether or not this was true of all bunnies, since he had never met another bunny.)

When it got too dark to see the tracks he was making, Barrington made up his mind to go home.

On his way, however, he passed a large oak tree. High in the branches there was a great deal of excited chattering going on. Barrington looked up. It was a squirrel family! What a marvelous time they seemed to be having.

“Hello, up there,” called Barrington.

“Hello, down there,” came the reply.

“Having a Christmas party?” asked Barrington.

“Oh, yes!” answered the squirrels. “It’s Christmas Eve. Everybody is having a Christmas party!”

“May I come to your party?” said Barrington softly.

“Are you a squirrel?”


“What are you, then?”

“A bunny.”

“A bunny?”


“Well, how can you come to the party if you’re a bunny? Bunnies can’t climb trees.”

“That’s true,” said Barrington thoughtfully. “But I can hop and I’m very furry and warm.”

“We’re sorry,” called the squirrels. “We don’t know anything about hopping and being furry, but we do know that in order to come to our house you have to be able to climb trees.”

“Oh, well,” said Barrington. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” chattered the squirrels.

And the unfortunate bunny hopped off toward his tiny house.

It was beginning to snow when Barrington reached the river. Near the river bank was a wonderfully constructed house of sticks and mud. Inside there was singing.

“It’s the beavers,” thought Barrington. “Maybe they will let me come to their party.”

And so he knocked on the door.

“Who’s out there?” called a voice.

“Barrington Bunny,” he replied.

There was a long pause and then a shiny beaver head broke the water.

“Hello, Barrington,” said the beaver.

“May I come to your Christmas party?” asked Barrington.

The beaver thought for awhile and then he said, “I suppose so. Do you know how to swim?”

“No,” said Barrington, “but I can hop and I am very furry and warm.”

“Sorry,” said the beaver. “I don’t know anything about hopping and being furry, but I do know that in order to come to our house you have to be able to swim.”

“Oh, well,” Barrington muttered, his eyes filling with tears. “I suppose that’s true-Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” called the beaver. And he disappeared beneath the surface of the water.

Even as furry as he was, Barrington was starting to get cold. And the snow was falling so hard that his tiny, bunny eyes could scarcely see what was ahead of him.

He was almost home, however, when he heard the excited squeaking of field mice beneath the ground.

“It’s a party,” thought Barrington. And suddenly he blurted out through his tears, “Hello, field mice. This is Barrington Bunny. May I come to your party?”

But the wind was howling so loudly and Barrington was sobbing so much that no one heard him.

And when there was no response at all, Barrington just sat down in the snow and began to cry with all his might.

“Bunnies,” he thought, aren’t any good to anyone. What good is it to be furry and to be able to hop if you don’t have any family on Christmas Eve?”

Barrington cried and cried. When he stopped crying he began to bite on his bunny’s foot, but he did not move from where he was sitting in the snow.

Suddenly, Barrington was aware he was not alone. He looked up and strained his shiny eyes to see who was there.

To his surprise he saw a great silver wolf. The wolf was large and strong and his eyes flashed fire. He was the most beautiful animal Barrington had ever seen.

For a long time the silver wolf didn’t say anything at all. He just stood there and looked at Barrington with those terrible eyes.

Then slowly and deliberately the wolf spoke. “Barrington,” he asked in a gentle voice, “why are you sitting in the snow?”

“Because it’s Christmas Eve,” said Barrington, “and I don’t have any family, and bunnies aren’t any good to anyone.”

“Bunnies are, too, good,” said the wolf. “Bunnies can hop and they are very warm.”

“What good is that?” Barrington sniffed.

“It is very good indeed,” the wolf went on, “because it is a gift that bunnies are given, a free gift with no strings attached. And every gift that is given to anyone is given for a reason. Someday you will see why it is good to hop and to be warm and furry.”

“But it’s Christmas,” moaned Barrington, “and I’m all alone. I don’t have any family at all.”

“Of course you do,” replied the great silver wolf. “All of the animals in the forest are your family.”

And then the wolf disappeared. He simply wasn’t there. Barrington had only blinked his eyes, and when he looked-the wolf was gone.

“All of the animals in the forest are my family,” thought Barrington. “It’s good to be a bunny. Bunnies can hop. That’s a gift.” And then he said it again. “A gift. A free gift.”

On in the night Barrington worked. First he found the best stick he could. (And that was difficult because of the snow.)

Then hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. To beaver’s house. He left the stick just outside the door. With a note on it that read: “Here is a good stick for your house. It is a gift. A free gift. No strings attached. Signed, a member of your family.”

“It is a good thing that I can hop, he thought, “because the snow is very deep.”

Then Barrington dug and dug. Soon he had gathered together enough dead leaves and grass to make the squirrels’ nest warmer. Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop.

He laid the grass and leaves just under the large oak tree and attached this message: “A gift. A free gift. From a member of your family.”

It was late when Barrington finally started home. And what made things worse was that he knew a blizzard was beginning.

Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop.

Soon poor Barrington was lost. The wind howled furiously, and it was very, very cold. “It certainly is cold,” he said out loud. “It’s a good thing I’m so furry. But if I don’t find my way home pretty soon I might freeze!”

Squeak. Squeak. . . .

And then he saw it-a baby field mouse lost in the snow. And the little mouse was crying.

“Hello, little mouse,” Barrington called.

“Don’t cry. I’ll be right there.” Hippity-hop, and Barrington was beside the tiny mouse.

“I’m lost,” sobbed the little fellow. “I’ll never find my way home, and I know I’m going to freeze.”

“You won’t freeze,” said Barrington. “I’m a bunny and bunnies are very furry and warm. You stay right where you are and I’ll cover you up.”

Barrington lay on top of the little mouse and hugged him tight. The tiny fellow felt himself surrounded by warm fur. He cried for awhile but soon, snug and warm, he fell asleep.

Barrington had only two thoughts that long, cold night. First he thought, “It’s good to be a bunny. Bunnies are very furry and warm.” And then, when he felt the heart of the tiny mouse beating regularly, he thought, “All the animals in the forest are my family.”

Next morning, the field mice found their little boy, asleep in the snow, warm and snug beneath the furry carcass of a dead bunny. Their relief and excitement was so great that they didn’t even think to question where the bunny had come from.

And as for the beavers and the squirrels, they still wonder which member of their family left the little gift for them that Christmas Eve.

After the field mice had left, Barrington’s frozen body simply lay in the snow. There was no sound except that of the howling wind. And no one anywhere in the forest noticed the great silver wolf who came to stand beside that brown, lop-eared carcass.

But the wolf did come.

And he stood there.

Without moving or saying a word.

All Christmas Day.

Until it was night.

And then he disappeared into the forest.

Christmas Thoughts for all the Year

I first heard this, on Christmas 1960, (at the ripe old age
of Eight) and it has remained one of my favourites!

Christmas Thoughts for all the Year

By the Editors of Mc Call’s, December, 1959

CHRISTMAS is celebration; and celebration is instinct in the
heart.  With gift and feast,  with scarlet ribbon and fresh
green  bough,  with  merriment and the sound  of  music,  we
commend the day —  oasis in the long, long landscape of the
commonplace.  Through  how many centuries,  through  how may
threatening circumstances,  has Christmas  been  celebrated,
since that cry came ringing down the ages,  “Fear not:  for,
behold,  I bring you good tidings of great joy,  which shall
be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city
of  David,  a Saviour,  which  is Christ  the  Lord.”  (Luke
2:10-11 KJV)

Christmas  is celebration,  but the  traditions that cluster
sweetly  around the  day  have  significance  only  if  they
translate the heart’s intention — the yearning of the human
spirit  to  compass  and  express faith  and hope and  love.
Without  this  intention,   the  gift  is  bare,   and   the
celebration a touch of tinsel, and the time without meaning.
As  these  attributes,  exemplifying  the  divine  spark  in
mankind,  informed the first Christmas and have survived the
onslaughts of relentless time,  so do they shine untarnished
in this present year of our Lord.

Faith and hope and love,  which cannot  be bought or sold or
bartered,  but only given away are the wellsprings, firm and
deep of Christmas celebration.  These are the gifts  without
price, the ornaments incapable of imitation, discovered only
within oneself and therefore  unique.  They  are  not always
easy to  come by,  but  they are in unlimited supply ever in
the province of all.

THIS CHRISTMAS. mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion,  and replace it with trust.  Write a love
letter.  Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage
youth.  Manifest  your loyalty  in  word and  deed.  Keep a
promise.  Find the time.  Forgo a grudge.  Forgive an enemy.
Listen.  Apologize  if you were wrong.  Try  to  understand.
Flout envy.  Examine your demands on others.  Think first of
someone  else.  Appreciate.  Be  kind;  be  gentle.  Laugh a
little.  Laugh a little more.  Deserve  confidence.  Take up
arms  against  malice.   Decry  complacency.  Express  your
gratitude.  Go to church.  Welcome a stranger.  Gladden the
heart of a child.  Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of
the earth.  Speak your love.  Speak it again. Speak it still
once again.

These are but inklings of a vast category; a mere scratching
of the surface.  They are simple things; you have heard them
all before; but their influence has never been measured.

Christmas is celebration,  and  there is no celebration that
compares with the  realization of  its true meaning —  with
the sudden stirring of  the  heart that has extended  itself
toward the core of life.  Then, only then, is it possible to
grasp the significance of the first Christmas — to savor in
the inward ear the wild,  sweet music of the angel choir; to
envision  the  star-struck  sky,  and  glimpse,  behind  the
eyelids the  ray of light that feel  athwart a darkened path
and changed the world.

Happy Holidays