Christmas pageant, Pleasant Street Baptist Church, Dec 12

posted by Mike on December 9th, 2010

If you only see one Christmas pageant this year, make it the one at Pleasant Street Baptist Church: 5pm, Sunday, December 12, Pleasant and Ashland, Worcester, Massachusetts.


Starring Bruce “Snow Ghost” Russell as “a wise man—or a wise guy.”

First Sunday of Advent, 2010

posted by Mike on November 28th, 2010

IMG_1820Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of four weeks of Christian preparation for Christmas.

Most Catholics I know have some sort of wreath, with purple, pink, and white candles. (Today we lit a purple candle.) Those with kids usually have an Advent calendar as well.

The US Bishops have some online Advent prayers and resources. This year, with barely any time between Thanksgiving travels and Advent, we improvised a bit more than usual, and used an Advent “psalm” from a book that was handy, Fr. Edward Hays’s Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim.

Advent is one of those times, like Lent, when we laypeople are especially encouraged to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation; my Advents are usually not heavy on penitence, but I’m considering making that a focus this year. For the first Advent in many years, I was a lector in my parish, and the Second Reading (Rom 13:11-14) got me examining my conscience.

. . . not in orgies and drunkenness . . .

Doing good on these counts.

. . . not in rivalry and jealousy . . .

Here, not so much.

Msgr. Scollen, in his homily, noted that the First Reading was about “nonviolence,” the second, “personal lifestyle.” I’ll be meditating on them more this week and discerning the steps I should take this Advent.

posted by Mike in Advent | on November 28th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “First Sunday of Advent, 2010” | 1 Comment »

Fourth Sunday of Advent

posted by Mike on December 20th, 2009

We’ve been using a booklet of Henri Nouwen meditations this Advent. He often counsels that we stay in the moment, and today, the fourth Sunday of Advent, Greyhound is doing their bit to keep me where I am both mentally and physically by cancelling bus service to Worcester due to snow. (I am in no hurry to ride on icy roads after my Christmas wreck last year.)

Christmas caroling

Today we celebrated the season by Christmas carolling at a local nursing home and at the homes of neighbors and friends.

Advent wreath Advent panel

I also wanted to share photos of a homemade Advent wreath and a sort of “Advent board” tracing the lineage of Jesus, based on a design by legendary Catholic Worker artist Ade Bethune.

Hope you all have a wonderful, safe week!

posted by Mike in Advent, Worcester | on December 20th, 2009 | Permanent Link to “Fourth Sunday of Advent” | 1 Comment »

508 #96: The local green economy

posted by Mike on December 11th, 2009

This week: the 508 Christmas Spectacular! The panel is Julius Jones and Mr. Brendan Melican. Theme song: “If I Had One Christmas Wish.” Words by Bruce “Snow Ghost” Russell, music by Mike Benedetti.


Audio: mp3 link, other formats, feed

Video: Downloads and other formats

508 contact info

Buddha Hut buffet Saturday; Stone Soup party Friday; Winter Mystery Band signups happening now.

The NYT is not selling the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Top suggestions for the T&G: stop running the internet poll on the front page, because you’re deceiving people who don’t realize it’s a phony poll, and you look bad to people who know what’s going on; create an RSS feed for Worcester news; make use of the <title> element so it will be easier to Google T&G articles; add features to the comment system to filter out noise.

Julius, who helps run the Regional Environmental Council’s gardening program, talks about the local green economy, or lack thereof.

Holiday gift guide:


Nicole has posted an experimental Virtual Assignment Desk; Jeff Barnard highlights Bill Randell’s reporting on low-income housing financing.

You should wear a hat to stay warm! I’m told Lutheran Social Services has classes for recent immigrants to help them dress appropriately for the (bad) weather.

Advent 2009

posted by Mike on November 29th, 2009

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the four-week period of preparation for Christmas.

Advent isn’t as project-oriented as Lent, but there are many more popular rituals to mark this season. Notably, each Sunday you light candles around a wreath while praying. Today we light a purple candle, next week two, the next week we add a pink candle, then another purple, finally lighting all four plus a white candle for Christmas.

If there are children in the house, you probably have an Advent calendar with little pieces of candy attached to each day, a clever incentive for the children to remind you of the daily Advent prayer. The U.S. Bishops’ Advent website contains a simulated calendar with prayers instead of snacks.

Every year I also like caroling with friends and watching It’s a Wonderful Life with Bruce; one of my goals this Advent is to integrate them into these daily and weekly practices.

Most of all, this year I’m looking forward to sharing these traditions with a non-Catholic Christian friend who knows very little about this stuff, and hoping to gain a deeper appreciation of Advent in so sharing.

posted by Mike in Advent | on November 29th, 2009 | Permanent Link to “Advent 2009” | 3 Comments »

Scrooge and the Jobless Recovery

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on November 29th, 2009

Engraving by C.E. BrockEbenezer Scrooge was a businessman whose single employee, Bob Cratchit, a married father of four, worked for starvation wages. In the opening pages of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, we learn that Scrooge believes he is overtaxed by the government and “cannot afford to make others merry.” He doesn’t see himself as a miser, but as a victim of a bad economy. When Cratchit makes even the most modest suggestion of better working conditions (an extra lump of coal on the fire, a single day off a year), Scrooge threatens him with unemployment.

On November 6, 2009, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate had climbed to 10.2%, representing 16.4 million Americans, double the number of jobless when the recession began in December 2007. The government also reported that an additional 808,000 people had become “discouraged workers,” those “not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.” Perhaps most alarming in terms of race relations and future prospects, the unemployment rates for blacks was 15.4% and 25.7% for all teenagers.
Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy in Advent | on November 29th, 2009 | Permanent Link to “Scrooge and the Jobless Recovery” | 2 Comments »