Tuesday, 06 December 2022

Opinion

“After Herod had died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead.'" – Matthew 2:19-20

Dreams and visions at Christmas seem to go together.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," Bing Crosby and other voices croon this time of year.

And what would Christmas be without a reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"? Who doesn't know Clement Moore's words, "The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads."

Then, of course, there's Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol that tells us of Ebenezer Scrooge's dream of "the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

There's quite a tradition of dreams and visions at Christmas, wouldn't you say? It's a very old tradition; in fact, it's as old as Christmas itself.

Christmas began with the dreams and visions of Joseph, Mary, shepherds and Wise Men.

That's what we've been considering each week of this Advent/Christmas season, especially the dreams of Joseph and the Wise Men. They tend to get overlooked because the focus is usually on the shepherds, the innkeeper, and the manger in Luke's gospel.

As a matter of fact, Matthew doesn't mention these at all. His focus isn't so much on the birth event of Jesus as on the protection of the Holy Child that was born. One after another come the dreams in Matthew's Gospel, five altogether. First is Joseph's dream of an angel who tells him to take Mary home as his wife.

Next is the dream for the Wise Men. They follow a star all the way from Persia to Jerusalem looking for the newborn king. In a dream, they are told to go back a different route because Herod has gone crazy, again!

Perhaps on the same night the Wise Men have their dream, Joseph has another one. "Get up," the angel tells him in the dream, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

So now, we consider the fourth dream. A few months have gone by; we don't know exactly how many.

According to tradition, the Holy Family is living in a cave near Cairo. There seems to be the pattern; first they live in a house in Nazareth, then a cave in Bethlehem, then a house, and now once again a cave.

So, you see, it wasn't just as an adult that Jesus could say, "The Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Again and again Jesus is homeless, his life threatened, even as a baby.

It's probably at this cave in Egypt the angel comes in a dream to Joseph. "Get up," the angel tells him, "take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

How do you suppose Joseph feels as he hears these words?

Why all this torturesome travel? These are the obvious reasons, but there's one very important one. The infancy and life of Jesus retraces the journeys of Israel, the people of God.

Israel, the chosen people, the people God called to be his own, had disappointed him. But God loved them, nonetheless and the travels were necessary.

Please join us at First Lutheran Church this Sunday, Dec. 23, at 11 a.m. to hear more about Joseph’s dream that brought Jesus to Nazareth and how closely it ties to the travels of the Israelites as Matthew had intended in writing this Gospel.

All are welcome, so please, come as you are and join us Sunday for worship and a hot lunch and then again on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24, from 1 to 4 p.m. for our free community Christmas dinner and our Christmas Eve worship service at 5 p.m.

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

New Kelseyville Unified School District Board member Allison Panella. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – I’m excited to introduce everyone to our newest board member, Allison Panella.

Allison is going to be a great addition to our board. She is a lifelong Lake County resident who has positive attitude, a strong foundation in community service and plenty of familiarity with education.

In addition to having a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and having been a preschool teacher, she said, “Everyone in my family either works in the education field or is married to someone who does.”

With three kids under 5 years old, she’s a stay-at-home mom who’s about to spend a lot of time at Kelseyville Unified schools in the years to come, which is one of the reasons I’m so pleased she chose to become a board member – her perspective is really valuable.

She said her goals are to support staff, including exploring resources to help prevent burnout; and to support parents, as she knows firsthand the barriers that full-time working parents face while striving to meet the needs of young children.

She’s pleased that Kelseyville Unified can provide free school lunches and strong after school programs, and she wants to help the district continue to be responsive to the needs of parents as social and economic situations shift.

She told me she is excited to be a board member in a district where things are going well, as she put it, “where the district has its act together with a healthy budget and a great team that’s focused on what’s best for kids.” Her role on the school board will be one of many community activities she participates in.

She’s a member of the Kelseyville Sunrise Rotary, which provides scholarships to Kelseyville High School seniors, encourages student volunteerism through the Rotary Interact Club, funds school initiatives like the new baseball scoreboard, and sponsors students through the Adopt a Fifth Grader Program and Student of the Month Program. She is also a First 5 Lake commissioner.

Through her and her husband’s business, Stokes Ladders Inc., and their pear and walnut farm, Allison and husband Greg have sponsored Kelseyville Unified FFA students, is an active supporter of the Stokes Basketball Tournament, as well as supporting and coaching local youth sports teams.

She said, “My heart has always been with our youth. I believe in public education and want to support it to the best of my ability… Kelseyville is a close-knit community. We know our neighbors and a lot of us really care about our schools and our kids. I want to help local kids pursue a higher education and then return to our community.”

So there you have it. Welcome, Allison. Thanks for volunteering your time and energy. I’m confident you’ll help us make Kelseyville Unified the best it can be.

Allison will work with the following board members to help set the direction for Kelseyville Unified: John DeChaine, Gary Olson, Rick Winer and Taja Odom. She replaces Dr. Joseph Richardson who graciously stepped in to serve during a midterm vacancy and opted not to run for office.

In addition to our dedicated staff members, Kelseyville Unified thrives because of people who give their time and talent to help kids – our board members, our student families, and our community members.

Thanks to all of you who support the district through your financial support of school-sponsored programs and activities, your volunteer time, and your willingness to come when called upon to help our students reach their potential.

During this holiday season, I wish you all a joyous time filled with the company of loved ones.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Kelseyville Unified School District Board member Allison Panella, her husband Greg and their family. Courtesy photo.

"And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod they returned to their country by a different route." – Matthew 2:12

Have you ever had a vacation ruined by bad news?

It can happen at any point in the process. Maybe you've planned a trip to the Holy Land. You've bought your tickets, booked your rooms, gotten your itinerary. Maybe you've even packed your bags. Then you learn of a recent terrorist attack. The State Department warns against travel to that area. Disappointed, you cancel.

But at the last minute the travel agency comes up with an alternative. It's safer in Turkey; you can go there. You can see all the places St. Paul visited. It's not Jerusalem, but it's safe. So you go.

The Wise Men had their trip to Jerusalem ruined, not before they started out, but as they were going home.

In a dream, the second of five dreams in Matthew's nativity, the Wise Men learn that Herod is a danger to the Christ Child; they are not to return to him with news of where the child lives. They are to go home a different way. What a disturbing conclusion to such a joyous journey.

But let's go back to the beginning of their story. Who are the Wise Men and where do they come from?

There's much debate over almost every detail in the account. The word Matthew uses to identify the Wise Men is a strong clue as to their homeland. They're called magoi. Magoi is a Persian word for astrologer or magician. And they tell us themselves that their journey began in the "east" where they saw the star. Persia is in the east. Magoi is a Persian word. Where else can they be from but Persia?

Some draw a contrast here between the first visitors to see baby Jesus, the shepherds, and these visitors, the Wise Men.

Shepherds were poor, humble and despised members of society. They were the outcasts. The Jews of the time would classify them with the sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes.

But now these Magi from the east come to see the new king. They're rich, learned and skilled in the sciences of the ancient world. So, in shepherds and Wise Men we have the whole spectrum of mankind, from least to greatest represented.

Not so fast. These men would be no more acceptable to a religious Jew than the shepherds. Astrology and the magic arts are condemned in the Bible, and that's what they practiced. And they're not Jews but Gentiles.

"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" they ask. "We recognize him as king, as the promised Messiah, but we're not Jews," they are in effect saying.

So they've got two strikes against them, an ungodly occupation, and the wrong religion. And strike three comes when Herod asks about the child’s whereabouts. Three strikes, and yet they came, believing they would be welcomed, if not by the people, at least by the King of the Jews.

No one likes a bad dream. But thank God the Wise Men had one. They not only followed a star that led them to the Savior, they heeded the dream, not returning to Herod.

And because of that, you and I have a Savior, one who would grow up to take our place on Calvary's cross, dying for our sins, and rising again that all who believe in him might have forgiveness and eternal life.

Join us at First Lutheran Church this Sunday to hear the whole story of this “Dream of Christmas.”

Worship is at 11 a.m., with lunch immediately following the service. All are welcome so come as you are.

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For some people, leaving a beloved pet behind can ruin a holiday. However, having a furry friend doesn’t mean you can’t leave home.

It may be possible for you to bring your pet along for the trip. If not, boarding your pet or hiring a pet sitter may be an option.

Keep the following BBB tips in mind when planning a trip with your pets:

· Traveling by plane. You have two options when you take your pet on an airplane with you. If your pet is small enough, you can keep it under the seat in front of you. If your pet is too large, it will go in cargo. No matter what, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a BBB Accredited Charity, recommends making an appointment with your veterinarian for a checkup to make sure they’re fit to fly the friendly skies. In 2017, consumers nationwide filed more than 7,400 complaints against airlines with BBB, so do your research. Look up airlines at www.bbb.org to see their BBB Rating and if there are complaints or reviews from past customers on file about flying with pets. Regulations and fees for bringing your pet on a plane vary by the airline, so make sure to double check.

· Road trips. Before bringing Fluffy or Fido on a long car trip, make sure your pet responds well to car rides. The ASPCA recommends keeping them safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier with plenty of food or water. Put together a pet travel kit, and prepare for the worst. If you’re renting a car, make sure that the company allows animals and ask if you’ll be charged extra. Consumers nationwide filed more than 10,000 complaints with BBB against auto renting and leasing companies in 2017, so make sure to find a trustworthy business at www.bbb.org.

· Make sure accommodations and destinations are pet-friendly. Wherever you’re staying, whether it be a hotel, vacation rental, or with friends or family, ensure that pets are welcome. Ask if there are extra costs or regulations. Research pet-friendly activities ahead of time – do the local beaches or nature areas allow pets?

· If necessary, leave them behind. Traveling with pets can be stressful for both you and the animal, and sometimes it’s just not feasible. Thankfully, you have options. You can hire a pet sitter to visit your animals in your own home, letting them stay in their natural environment where they’re most comfortable. You can also opt for a traditional boarding facility, like a kennel or pet hotel. In 2017, BBB received hundreds of complaints from consumers nationwide against pet boarding, sitting, and kennel companies. Complaints allege injuries to pets and poor customer service. It’s important to leave your pet in the care of someone you can trust, so look for BBB Accredited Businesses at www.bbb.org.

Remember to always report scammers.  If you've been the target of a scam or suspect scam activity, report it to authorities and  BBB Scam Tracker  to warn others.

Evan Arnold-Gordon is a public relations specialist for the BBB serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California.

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." – Matthew 2:13

The holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, it's the busiest travel season of the year.

In the next couple of days, if you haven't already heard it, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is going to be played on the radio, over and over and over.

Ironically, the Gospel accounts of the birth and early childhood of Jesus are busy with travel too.

There's Mary's trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth, then the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. The Wise Men travel hundreds of miles from Persia to find the Christ Child and worship him.

Then, in today's lesson, the Holy Family are once again on the road, this time traveling to Egypt to escape the murderous plan of Herod to kill Jesus.

In a few months, they'll be traveling back to Bethlehem, and from Bethlehem on to Nazareth, where Jesus will grow up. That's a lot of frequent donkey miles, or camel miles, depending on the mode of transportation.

Interestingly, each of those journeys begins with a dream.

Herod had his spies and informers, but Joseph had only dreams, and Scripture to confirm them. But his dreams weren't necessarily the happy kind. The one we consider today was a nightmare.

There had been happy moments, to be sure. Holding baby Jesus on the day of his birth was one. The welcome given the child by the shepherds was another. And, of course, there was the visit of the Magi who bowed in worship and presented their gifts.

Herod's threat against the life of Jesus was revealed to Joseph in a dream. Though settled into their home in Bethlehem, probably intending to spend their lives there, the Holy Family was forced to flee in the middle of the night to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod.

Meanwhile, King Herod is slaughtering the male babies in Bethlehem, 2 years of age and under, and maybe his troops are after Jesus.

I would guess that Mary personally knew the mothers and the names of the babies that died. They probably chatted together as they drew water, washed clothes or bought food from the merchants. I wonder if she felt guilty that her child was being spared while others weren't.

As he got older, the population yearned for the day Herod would die. On his deathbed he ordered thousands of the most prominent citizens of his realm taken to the Hippodrome and executed them. That way there'd be weeping on the day he died. Fortunately, the order was not carried out.

Joseph's visions in the night were not visions of "sugarplums" dancing in his head. Thank God they weren't. They were dreams of warning that he heeded, so that you and I would have a Savior in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Please join us at First Lutheran Church to hear the full story of Joseph’s dream and the hasty trip to Egypt this Sunday. Worship is at 11 a.m. with lunch immediately following.

This Sunday is Food Cupboard Sunday so if you are in need of perishable and/or nonperishable foods, please join us at 1 p.m.

All people are welcome so come as you are.

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Consumers and businesses nationwide are gearing up as the holiday season gets under way.

With orders to fill and presents to buy, it can be extremely stressful to try and checkoff everything on your list.

When shopping for the holidays, follow this BBB advice:

Stick to your budget. Avoid overspending by creating a gift budget for each person on your list to buy for. Making a list and checking it twice can help you to avoid purchasing impulse gifts, overbuying and exceeding your budget.

Seek out sales. Check your newspapers for coupons and look for ads on legitimate retailer websites. Comparison shop and check prices on the same items at different stores. If an offer sounds too good to be true, think twice before buying.

Pay by credit card and keep documentation. Credit cards offer consumer protections you can’t get when paying with cash or even debit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don't receive an item or unauthorized charges appear on your account. However, it’s important to be mindful of only charging what you can pay off in full and on-time. After placing an order, print out the confirmation or save it electronically until it arrives.

Shop smart online and be aware of shipping deadlines. Always use secure, encrypted, "https," Web sites when buying online and pay with a credit card. Don't use the same password for shopping or for creation of "user accounts" that is used for your bank account. Be sure to place online orders early if you want them to arrive by Dec. 24; the US Postal Service offers specific deadlines to keep in mind.

Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by phone, mail or online be shipped by the date promised or within 30 days if no delivery time was stated. If goods aren't shipped on time, shoppers can cancel and demand a refund.

Research Web sites and companies. Some unfamiliar shopping sites offer electronics or luxury goods at unrealistically low prices. Check out Web sites at www.bbb.org to find out a company's BBB rating, complaint history and much more. Remember that BBB Accredited Businesses have been found to meet BBB Standards and promise to respond to and resolve issues, so search for the seal.

Whether you head out to the stores or purchase with the click of a mouse, always take the time to shop smart. The holidays can be expensive and chaotic, so shop with trust with your BBB.

Evan Arnold-Gordon is public relations specialist for the BBB serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California.

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