The Glorious Sounds of Christmas

I love the music of this wonderful season. You just can’t beat Christmas music. This month Cameron and I got to hear two wonderful concerts right here in the Foster City area. One was a concert called Alleluia, by Foster City Community Chorus, and then we heard Gloria by Viva la Musica.

In the first concert I knew most of the music including the Randall Thompson, Alleluia, and the Magnificat, by John Rutter. Both were excellent, tried and true pieces. I also loved hearing From a Distance, by Julie Gold whom I knew from my days as a Cabaret performer in New York City. On the other hand I did not know any of the featured music performed by Viva la Musica. One was a A Savior is Born written by Texas composer, Randall Alan Bates, and the other was Gloria, by Giovanni Maria Ruggieri, a Baroque Venetian composer. Both concerts ended with a series of familiar carols.

And, who doesn’t like a Christmas carol sing-a long? It is truly what makes the season bright. I like singing them all. You will notice I start right away programming all the Carols in our December worship services. Outside of just two or three, the Advent songs don’t do very much for me. By the way,  I was also pleased to see names of IUC church members in each of the choruses including our own wonderful Anna Khaydarova who accompanies both choruses.

Listening to the music that boldly proclaims the coming of the Christ child into our midst, gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect, and yes, even escape from some of the horrific happenings we have experienced recently. The music tells the story that we need to hear so much — that God is with us, bringing us the peace, hope, joy, and love we need to keep us going – calling us to be bearers of the light.



( No Cheating)

1. As long as Christmas has been celebrated, it has been on December 25th. (True or False)

2. Joseph was from:
A. Bethlehem
B. Jerusalem
C. Nazareth
D. Egypt
E. Minnesota
F. None of the Above

3.How did Mary & Joseph travel to Bethlehem?
A. Camel
B. Donkey
C. Walked
D. Volkswagen
E. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
F. Who knows?

4. Mary & Joseph were married when Mary became Pregnant. (True or False)

5.Mary & Joseph were married when Jesus was born. (True or False)

6.What did the innkeeper tell Mary & Joseph?
A. Come back after the Christmas rush and I should have some vacancies.
B. I have a stable you can use.
C. There is no room at the inn.
D. Both B & C
E. None of the above

7. Jesus was delivered in:
A. Stable
B. Manger
C. Cave
D. Barn
E. Unknown

8. A “manger” is:
A. A stable for domestic animals
B. Wooden hay storage bin
C. Feeding trough
D. Barn

9. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows, sheep & goats
B. Cows, donkeys, sheep
C. Sheep & goats
D. Misc. barnyard animals
E. Lions, tigers, elephants
F. None of the above

10. Who saw the “star in the East?”
A. Shepherds
B. Mary & Joseph
C. Three Kings
D. Both A & C
E. None of the above

11. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
A. One
B. Three
C. A “Multitude”
D. None of the above

12. What “sign” did the angels tell the shepherds to look for?
A. This way to Baby Jesus
B. A star over Bethlehem
C. A baby that doesn’t cry
D. A house with a Christmas tree
E. A baby in a stable
F. None of the above

13. What did the angels sing?
A. “Joy to the World”
B. “Alleluia”
C. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
D. “Glory to God in the highest…”
E. “Glory to the Newborn King”
F. “My Sweet Lord”

14. What is a “Heavenly Host?”
A. Angel at the gate to heaven
B. Angel who invites people to heaven
C. Angel who serves refreshments in heaven
D. An angel choir
E. An angel army
F. None of the Above

15. There was snow that first Christmas:
A. Only in Bethlehem
B. All over Israel
C. Nowhere in Israel
D. Somewhere in Israel
E. Mary & Joseph only dreamed of a white Christmas

16. The baby Jesus cried:
A. When the doctor slapped him on his behind
B. Just like other babies cried
C. When the little drummer boy started banging on his drum.
D. He never cried.

17. What is Frankincense?
A. A precious metal
B. A precious fabric
C. A precious perfume
D. An eastern monster story
E. None of the above

18. What is Myrrh?
A. An easily shaped metal
B. A spice for burying people
C. A drink
D. After-shave lotion
E. None of the above

19. How many wise men came to see Jesus?

20. What does “wise men” refer to?
A. Men of the educated class
B. They were eastern kings
C. They were astrologers
D. They were smart enough to follow the star
E. They were “sages”

21. The wise men found Jesus in a:
A. Manger
B. Stable
C. House
D. Holiday Inn
E. Good Mood

22. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem:
A. To inform Herod about Jesus
B. To find out where Jesus was
C. To ask about the star they saw
D. For gas
E. To buy presents for Jesus

23. Where do we find the Christmas story in order to check up on all these ridiculous questions?
A. Matthew
B. Mark
C. Luke
D. John
E. All the above
F. Only A & B
G. Only A & C
H. Only A, B & C
I. Only X, Y & Z
J. Aesops Fables

24. When Joseph & Mary found out that Mary was pregnant with Jesus, what happened?
A. They got married.
B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
C. Mary left town for 3 months
D. An Angel told them to go to Bethlehem
E. A & D
F. B & C

25. Who told Mary & Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
A. The Angel
B. Mary’s mother
C. Herod
D. Caesar Augustus
E. Alexander the Great
F. No one told them to go

26. Joseph took the baby to Egypt:
A. To show him the pyramids
B. To teach him the wisdom of the Pharaohs
C. To put him in a basket in the reeds by the river
D. Because he dreamed about it
E. To be taxed
F. Joseph did not take Jesus to Egypt
G. None of the above

27. I think this test was:
A. Super
B. Great
C. Fantastic
D. All of the above









1. False. Not until the 4th century did it settle on the 25th. Other dates were accepted before then.

2. A. See Luke 2:3, 4.

3. F. The bible doesn’t say.

4. False. See Matthew 1:18.

5. False. See Luke 2:5.

6. E. No word about the Innkeeper. See Luke 2:7.

7. E. No word about it. See Luke 2:7.

8. C

9. F. The bible doesn’t specify.

10. E The wise men. They were not kings. See Matthew 2:2.

11. A. See Luke 2:9.

12. F. See Luke 2:12.

13. D. See Luke 2:14.

14. E. Definition is an “army.” See Living Bible.

15. D. Mt. Hermon is snow covered.

16. C. We have no reason to believe he wouldn’t.

17. B. By definition.

18. B. See John 19:39

19. No one knows. See Matthew 2:1.

20. C. They were astrologers or “star gazers.”

21. C. See Matthew 2:11.

22. B. See Matthew 2:1-20.

23. G. Mark begins with John the Baptist, John with “The word.”

24. F. See Matthew 1:19, Luke 1:39, 56.

25. D. See Luke 2:1,4,

26. D. See Matthew 2:13.

27. D, of course!

What Kind of Advent/Christmas Will We Have?

As I sit at my IPAD as I am flying home from Spain, I am wondering how I will do as “the season” approaches.  Will I be one of the many who weakens as the cookies, candies, pies, and other sweets hit the table?  Will I be one of the average people who gain 12 pounds from November 24, 2014 to January 2, 2015?  I know that the folk at Weight Watchers and the writers of Dr. Oz ‘s Real Age newsletter tips are giving me countless suggestions to maximize my self-control; but then I know I can be a weak person… very weak indeed.

Will I be one of the many who charge $700 or more on my credit cards to buy things that people don’t really want or need, as a token of my love and esteem?  I am sure that many economists hope so. It is so hard not to get wrapped up in the gift-buying craze whether or not it’s for the good of the economy.

On the other hand, I know I will get sentimental about some of the traditions Cameron and I have made our own over the years.  Every year we get a dated ornament for our tree, now we get two (one for Moo – Moo, our cat). While in New York, we always went to Rockefeller Center with family and/or friends to take our picture by the tree. Every year we have to watch three movies: It’s a Wonderful Life. A Christmas Carol, (the 1951 Alastair Sims version), and Miracle on 34th Street (again the 1948 B&W version).  A newer tradition was going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Angel Tree with the magnificent medieval village and nativity underneath.

Of course we look forward to starting a new California tradition this year. We will be interested to hear what some of you folk do.  We are looking forward to attending the choral concert some of our church folk are involved in.

Every year we look forward to the candlelight service and singing the Christmas Carols as well as caroling at a nearby nursing home.  Of course we always try to open ourselves to the unexpected joys that always seems to come.

The real good stuff, of course, is all but free and non-fattening, isn’t it? Our faith is the greatest gift, which opens for us new ways of living, loving, believing, and doing. The Advent/Christmas season is Holy as we celebrate that truly God is with us.

Advent greetings,