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Sunday, December 11, 2016

 Dear Readers,

As the years go by, I am finding that I love to explore culture and religion.  I am willing to go a temple, church or mosque.  To me it is about respecting the celebrations and the meaning behind the rituals.  This year St. Stephens will commemorate 50 years of Kwanzaa.  I often wonder how many people have actually gone.  So I provided the press release we received below: 
St. Stephens Community Church will be hosting its annual Kwanzaa Celebration on Monday, December 26, 2016 at 6:00PM.  St. Stephens Community Church, United Church of Christ is located at 1007 Kimberly Drive, Lansing, MI 48912.  This year’s theme is “Messages from The Past” featuring a spoken word performance by Dr. Maxine Hankins Cain as Black history icon Harriet Tubman. 
The celebration will include performances by The African Masquerade Dancers, Mighty Medicine and pouring of libations honoring our ancestors.  In addition, the St. Stephens Kwanzaa Celebration will be formally dedicated and renamed in honor of the celebration’s founder, the late Rev. Dr. Michael C. Murphy. This event is free and open to the public.  The celebration will begin promptly at 6:00 PM with the processional into the church sanctuary lead by the Dr. Saleef Kafajouffe Memorial Drum Circle.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa.  Historically, Maulana Karenga, Ph. D., started the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration in 1966.  Dr. Karenga, chairman of the Black Studies Department of California State University, created Kwanzaa to introduce the values, customs, and traditions of Africa and to increase the awareness in African-Americans of their own rich cultural heritage. The celebration includes music, dance, poetry, and feasting on African/African American/Caribbean foods.
  The holiday also includes the affirmation of seven Kwanzaa principles, and symbols that represent the spirit and meaning of Kwanzaa.  In Swahili, Kwanzaa means “first fruits of harvest.” 
The Nguzo Saba of the seven days of Kwanzaa:
Day 1. Umoja means unity.
Day 2. Kujichagulia means self-determination.
Day 3. Ujima means working together.
Day 4. Ujamaa means supporting each other.
Day 5. Nia means purpose.
Day 6. Kuumba means creativity.
Day 7. Imani means faith, especially faith in ourselves.
For more information on Kwanzaa, please visit Dr. Karenga’s Official Kwanzaa website at http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org.  
For more information on the Kwanzaa celebration, please contact St. Stephens Community Church at (517) 484-2180 or Sister Sasha Gaskin at (313) 917-0174.
Anyone interested yet?   
St. Stephens is a Christian church that celebrates Kwanzaa. It is a a celebration from Monday, December 26 and ends Sunday, January 1. (Google it)
Saying 'Happy Holidays' is not about taking the "Christ" out of Christmas. Individuals do that by getting upset when you say that even if it is the day after Thanksgiving. Do not feed into the negativity. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. People may not go church every week nor may they be Christian. It may be a real simple fix to just say, "Thank you!" 
Also for those who are putting gifts on credit or buying items that are not necessary to me that takes something out of Christmas, like security. Jesus was not about materialism or hatred. The Bible mentions three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh according to Matthew 2:11. It did not mention, spending $200 on sneakers or $1,800 on a computer. Christmas (December 25th) will never change as Jesus' birthday.  I will not even mention how many news reports I see on television of people being injured while shopping during the holidays. I know we like to celebrate, so let's celebrate love, kindness and understanding. Pass it on.
Please take a moment to learn about other cultures.  Please remember that there are many different ways to celebrate.  No one will ever take the Christ out of Christmas.  It is Christmas!  Celebrate!
Love people,
Rina Risper
Printed in the December 11 - December 24, 2016 edition.

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