What if, a wall was erected that first Christmas?

What kind of Christmas would it have been, if Caesar Augustus erected a wall, so no one could enter Bethlehem of Judea? Wonder if, Egypt, where Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus escaped from King Herod didn’t allow the holy family in?

What about a fence or wall blocking that first refugee family?

What about immigration this Christmas?

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-12-21/oklahoma-church-puts-fence-around-nativity-scene-calls-holy-family-migrants

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/21/us/oklahoma-church-puts-fence-around-nativity-trnd/index.html

Something to ponder this Christmas Eve and Christmas day!

1 Helen Hays reading the first Christmas Story about the refugee family.

2 Helen Hays continues reading the first Christmas Story about the holy family.

3 Helen Hays reading the first Christmas Story of how simple love was displayed  and how poor the holy family found themselves.

 

Song Silent Night Click on audio file below …

Have a blessed Christmas from the Passages Production Team: Dennis Benson, Bill Wolfe, Gregg Hartung, and a host of others through the years!

Merry Christmas from the PMM Leadership Team: Dennis Molnar, Dave Roberts, Steve Smith, Sue Washburn, Ron Wanless, Donna Christopher, Mike Givler, Christy Ramsey, Jim Mohr, and Balajiedlang Khyllep.

Dennis Benson host and Executive Producer of Passages demonstrating in Michigan against current immigration policy that is separating families.

 

 


Fred Rogers – King Friday and Jingle Bells

Fred Rogers https://www.fredrogers.org/ enjoys being King Friday http://www.neighborhoodarchive.com/mrn/characters/king_friday/index.html with Passages host Dennis Benson https://celebrationrock.wordpress.com/2008/04/11/dennis-benson-always-on-the-cutting-edge/ in ringing in the holiday! The king teaches us how to do the royal version of the holiday favorite Jingle Bells.  Click on the audio file below.

https://www.google.com/search?q=jingle+bells&oq=jingle+bells+&aqs=chrome..69i57j35i39j0l4.8004j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Jingle Bells Rock by Bobby Helms

https://www.google.com/search?q=jingle+bells+rock&oq=jingle+bells+rock&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.5691j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

A Christmas gift from the Passages Radio Show and Presbyterian Media Mission

Passages Radio Christmas Program featuring Fred Rogers, David Newell aka Mr. McFeely and host Dennis C. Benson of Passages by clicking on the audio file below.

Have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

 

 


What a year for Mister Rogers and the Neighborhood!

We will be concluding our Neighborhood Sweater Drive 2018 for those in need of keeping warm one week from today at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. https://pittsburghkids.org

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive

Individuals and congregations collect sweaters from now through December 16th to help keep neighbors needing to keep warm this winter through the Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive. http://www.syntrinity.org/synod/mister-rogers-sweater-drive/

Celebrating 50 Years of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood being on television and the big screen!

Fred Rogers featured in documentary gets top honors at third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards with Morgan Neville’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”. The winners were determined by members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA).
https://deadline.com/2018/11/wont-you-be-by-neighbor-best-documentary-critics-choice-documentary-awards-1202499673/?fbclid=IwAR1RrzQ8cDqpJS9LRmrYsXIY8Vb_hnb9m-nSpA_CsV_TO8DpEL8GnB3FwjE

Fred Rogers telling about being ordained a Presbyterian minister.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4GUA2GEEUw

Here is a slide show highlighting Joanne Rogers about “143” and Fred Rogers amazing contribution to making our neighborhoods throughout this nation and in many parts of the world a better place.

Fred Rogers slide show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjkrFfdFzEg

Joanne Rogers on Jimmy Fellon Show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzXsXXk-96U

Fred Rogers and David Newell aka Mr. McFeely on the Passages Show with Dennis Benson at Christmas time and sharing about Fred’s legacy.

Joanne Rogers talks with Dennis Benson on Passages about being married to Fred and their lives together.

Helping to conclude a year long celebration remembering Fred Rogers life and ministry.
Take 10 seconds now to remember Fred! I’m sure he appreciated that brief memory of him. Please help this to be a kinder and gentler world (neighborhood) to live in for all God’s children.

PMM Leadership Team and Passages Production Team


Celebrating a life well lived! George H.W. Bush

A Snapshot in Time with George H.W. Bush & Sam Walton

“The American Dream means giving it your all, trying your hardest, accomplishing something. And then I’d add to that, giving something back. No definition of a successful life can do anything but include serving others.” – late President George H.W. Bush

It was March 17, 1992, with President Bush https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush traveling to Fayetteville, AR, for bestowing on Founder of Walmart Sam Walton the highest civilian honor the “Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

President George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the U.S., his funeral in Washington D.C. today, we recall his many attributes with a snapshot in time when he gave Sam Walton https://blog.walmart.com/heritage/20140327/the-highlight-of-sam-waltons-career-the-presidential-medal-of-freedom his award.

The story is told by Sam’s late wife Helen Walton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Walton to Gregg Hartung Passages Associate Producer in an interview he did with her in Youngstown, OH.

Click on the audio below for the feature length story in which you hear President Bush talk about Sam Walton and why he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom as Sam in his final days was dealing with cancer. Listen to the Passages I-Story now.

Rest in peace President George H. W. Bush.

 


Advent is expectation! Stories preparing the way for Christmas …

The first Christmas … Mary wasn’t in labor when they got to Bethlehem. If no one had had space for them, Joseph would have taken Mary to her relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah. “From Bethlehem, you can get to any village in the hill country of Judea by one hour on donkey back,” Dr. Ken Bailey said.

Middle Eastern cultures have valued family and hospitality for millennia. When Caesar Augustus decreed that people had to register for the census in their hometown, Joseph went to Bethlehem “because he belonged to the house and line of David” (Luke 2:4).

“To turn away a descendant of David in ‘the City of David’ would be an unspeakable shame on the entire village,” Bailey writes in his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyeshttps://www.ivpress.com/jesus-through-middle-eastern-eyes

In other words, Joseph’s relatives welcome him and his betrothed for the final weeks of her pregnancy. The village midwife and women help Mary birth Jesus. “They don’t have a cradle, so they lay Jesus in the manger, which is clean, and put a blanket over him nice, warm, and tidy,” Bailey said.

Here are four audio stories, helping us to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for Christmas during this Advent season.

Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking fame, shares insights about the shepherds https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/deadmanwalking/character/sister-helen-prejean/  to give us a realistic view of Christmas through the marginalized people in our world. Listen to her by clicking on the audio button below.

A simple Christmas in the warm heart of Africa removes a missionary couple from the seduction of consumerism. Edith talks of being far from home and enjoying Malawian friends during the holiday.  We had just enough food for celebrating Christ’s birth. https://pghpip.org/malawi/malawi.shtml Listen her story by clicking on the audio button below.

Everyone’s favorite neighbor, gets negative feedback when he de-mythologizes Santa Claus, some of the parents want to use the jolly old man as a club. Fred explains his thoughts about Santa and Christmas. https://www.pbs.org/parents/rogers Listen to Fred Roger’s story by clicking on the audio button below.

Ray Buckley is an author who grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He is an advocate for Native Americans. https://www.abingdonpress.com/ray_buckley  Ray tells his grandmother’s story about being mugged on Passages as a Christmas story. Click on the audio button below to hear the short feature length story. Second audio button below is the longer full-length version of Grandma’s Moccasins.

Ray’s Story Grandma’s Moccasins Full-Length

Have a wonderful time of preparation in sharing you holiday stories this Advent and Christmas seasons with family, friends and strangers too!

Have a blessed holiday season from the PMM Leadership Team.

Gregg Hartung, Director

 


Actress Amanda Bynes Opens Up About Drug Addiction

Amanda Bynes shares about drugs and mental illness.

ABC Good Morning America story on Amanda’s story by clicking on the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyfdOI5CkVU

Amanda tells about her downfall, view as reported by CNN, click on the link below.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/26/entertainment/amanda-bynes-interview/index.html

At the height of her career, all Amanda Bynes could focus on was how much she hated her body. The actress, 32, dealt with severe body insecurities that led to an Adderall and drug addiction, and fed into her decision to quit acting in 2012. Find out more on her story by clicking on the link below.

https://people.com/health/amanda-bynes-body-insecurities-adderall-addiction/

Young People’s Stories on Surviving Drugs & Addiction

Out of the concern for young people, facing various challenges in a drug loaded culture, we bring a series of stories by young people from the award-winning radio features – “Survivors.”

First listen to Ellen’s story and about being sensitive in caring for her body. She loves herself and God. Click on the link below to hear Ellen tell about herself in her own words.

Jenny is at a party and passes out. She has a vision while passed out. She becomes a survivor! Click to hear Jen’s story in her own words.

Oscar is out of control in taking drugs! He hits bottom and those who love him intervened. Click to hear his story on Survivors.

April just says no to drugs. Her friends have problems in saying no to drugs. She cares! Click on the link here for April’s story.

Becky has never tried drugs. She has a boyfriend who has turned it around from being into drugs. She struggles with alcohol because of being sexually abused by a drunken uncle. Click on the link here for Becky’s story.

Jimmie is a college athlete who struggles to understand why young people use drugs in their life. Click on the link to listen to Jimmie.

Enter Matt’s world as he reflects on the things that his friends are doing when it comes to sex and drugs. How do some young people make good choices? Who are the examples in our lives? Listen to Matt’s story.

Recovery is what Randy needed! Listen to him share about needing to get help and the value of support from loved ones. Click below.

These stories will be heard on WLER-FM 97.7 The Rock Station in Butler, PA on weekends during the month of December. The city of Butler like many 3rd class cities in Pennsylvania have a problem with drugs on their streets and in the community. Pennsylvania is ranked 10th as a state where drugs are an epidemic.

Need help for a friend, family member or yourself with a drug problem?
Call 1-800-662-HELP.

We care because God loves us and in return we love all of God’s children!
Our thoughts and prayers are with folks facing the challenges of drugs and addiction.


Time To Be Thankful ….

It is that time of year to reflect on what we need to be thankful for in 2018 and all of life!

The late Steve Allen was supportive of the work that Presbyterian Media Mission (PMM) has done and continues

to do with Presbyterians and the others in sharing stories of life and faith.

We feast on stories of reflection!

The award-winning Great American Feast Radio Show was hosted by Steve with special guest actress Helen Hays.

The response to the show was fantastic!

The prayer of thanks at the close of the program has been well received with really good comments through the years.

So we share it again.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

 


Depression “A Little Help”

The holidays can be the best of times and the worst of times for many people!

As the days get shorter and winter settles in, depression becomes a battle for many people.  What happens when it becomes serious and someone needs help? Listen to and read Franklin’s story from our Passages stories of hope.

In the spring, I was very much involved with jogging, going to the “Y” four times a week, taking vitamins, really caring for myself. I became interested in the holistic health movement, and began looking at my life spiritually – devotional life and spiritual growth.

And then in May, I began feeling like myself. I’m a person who can get down – you can call it the blues. But I noticed I was down longer than just a day, and my wife said, “Yeah, it does seem like you’re down. Maybe you ought to go to the conference counselor and talk with him about it.” So, I went to see the doctor about how I was feeling, and he said, ” Well, what’s happened to you?” And I said, “Well, I was trying for a conference job nd lost out; my wife was trying for a good job and lost out.” And he said, “Well you’ve had a lot of loss in your life; loss is sometimes a cause of depression. You’re in the mild state of depression. I can give you an anti-depressant. This will tide you over and get you through it.”

Well, I continued to get worse and worse. I lost 30 pounds – I’m not a heavy person anyway. Suicide thoughts really began crowding in on my mind. I began to see no way out whatsoever. Christmas was miserable. Medications were switched. I moved from sleeping all the time to sleeping all the time to sleeping none of the time.

Several things have helped me since then. Number one is a counselor – and I really cannot say enough about the Christian experience of counseling. I read many books, received a lot of literature, read in history about persons who’ve suffered depression. I would say to anyone who is feeling down, out – a depressed person in the valley of the shadows, winter all the time and no Christmas, spring with no birds – that there is hope, and you can get well again. I think I know what it is to die and experience “Ye shall live again.”

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his world, I put my hope.” Psalm 130:1,5

More of Franklin’s audio story …

When we are depressed and can no longer see objectively, it should be no more of a stigma to go to a counselor to get a diagnosis than it is to go to a mechanic to find out what is wrong with our car.  If I’m depressed, I should first look for solutions myself.  If they are too hard to find, or I feel like it’s not worth the effort, I should seek help.  It’s as simple, and difficult, as that.

It also is comforting to know that we can take even our angriest, most despairing thoughts to God.  The Psalmist certainly did.  If we can be free to rant and rave at God and express what we didn’t think we dared express to God, we open ourselves to begin to receive God’s healing.

Read Psalm 30; a psalm of despair and trust in God.  This reflection is from good friend of PMM Melodie M. Davis.

Here are some helpful links:

A Blueprint When Feeling Blue: How A Mental Health Diagnosis Can Be Empowering | Jen Reviews

A word cloud demonstrates some common words associated with the phrase “mental health” The first time you ever heard the term “mental illness”, what did you think of? I can tell you what I thought of. I was in the beginning of high school the first time I recall hearing this term.

We pray for all those dealing with the blues and/or serious depression as we begin to transition from fall to winter and the holiday seasons are upon us again.


International Visitors Partner with Congregations

The International Partnership Ministry Team of Pittsburgh Presbytery exists in order to help strengthen and encourage the church for faithful and fruitful discipleship in Pittsburgh Presbytery, the Synod of Blantyre, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and beyond.  Here is a link to more information on this ministry and mission of Pittsburgh Presbytery’s International Partnerships  https://pghpip.org/

Recently from October 11 through October 23 there were 16 Malawians https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malawi and 4 South Sudanese https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Sudan  who visited Pittsburgh area congregations to share in Christian Fellowship in a variety of ways in a number of different locations.

On the final morning (October 23) 3 members of the partnership (2 from Malawi and 1 from Pittsburgh) were invited to share about the partnership between congregations on WESA-FM 90.5 (Pittsburgh’s NPR Radio station).  The show is “The Confluence” (local daily radio program, Monday thru Friday at 9 a.m.) and the part of the program segment featuring partnership friends starts about the 23:45 mark in the audio file.  Click on the link below the picture for the article and the audio file to listen too.

Illah Nourbakhsh Wants To Empower Citizens And Scientists To ‘CREATE’ Socially Conscious Tech

Carnegie Mellon University professor Illah Nourbakhsh caught the robot bug at an early age, and as the director of CMU’s CREATE Lab, he’s influencing a technologically fluent generation to harness their energy for socially meaningful innovation. He shares his journey and what he’s hoping for the years ahead.

We are thankful for those African friends who traveled to the U.S. and Pittsburgh that gave us faith and hope in how we live together as Christians separated by thousands of miles, brought closer to together through God’s love for all people.

We thank our friends at WESA 90.5 FM for their allowing the wider community to hear and learn about International Partnership between Malawi, South Sudan, and U.S. in Christian love for each other.  http://www.wesa.fm/#stream/0

 

 


“Beyond Wearing Pink: How You Can Support Breast Cancer Awareness”

Breast cancer mortality rates have declined 39 percent due to the continued support of research and education. Imagine how many more lives could be saved if more people knew how to donate to the cause.

We share the stories of 2 women on Passages as we celebrate cancer survivors and pray for loved ones remembering people they have lost in the battle with cancer.  We encourage all women to get breast examines. October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month!”

A resource guide explains how readers can go beyond wearing pink by donating their unused airline miles and credit card rewards to several breast cancer charities – something most people are unaware of.

We also included information on how to avoid charity scams and ensure your donation lands in deserving hands.

You can view the guide here: https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/support-breast-cancer-awareness.php

Breast Cancer – Diagnosis & Treatment | AHN Cancer Institute

Using advanced breast cancer technologies, AHN personalizes treatments for patients. Call today to schedule an appointment with a nearby oncologist.

Jane is a cancer survivor and here are several audio clips from her journey with breast cancer.

Jane shares the vision as a wounded healer for a future that includes her husband and family.

Here is a longer play story of a young woman, Ketrina Lewis and her journey with Breast Cancer on Passages.

We pray for all those women facing the journey with Breast Cancer and special prayers for the Rev. Sue Washburn, her husband Matt, and their daughters on the road ahead with her dealing with breast cancer.  Sue has and continues to serve on the PMM Leadership Team.  We thank Sue for her service to the Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church where she is pastor and the many other ways her being part of the PCUSA at the national and regional levels has helped to share stories.

Presbyterian Media Mission sharing stories of hope and faith!