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After a civic club meeting, a middle-aged woman came forward with several of her friends. In the course of conversation, she said, “You will never know how lonely I am.”

“What do you want for Christmas?” is a question we frequently hear at this time of year. A small child answers, “I want a football or a doll or a commuter or some candy.” A merchant replies, “I want a lot of customers who are willing to purchase my products. A hospital patient cries, “I want my health and a return to normalcy. And on and on it goes.

Recently, an associate pastor gave a children’s message to a large group of children at an 11 o’clock worship service. Children were packed into every corner of the chancel area. She ended the brief homily by saying, “And God loves you and you and you,” pointing as she spoke in three different directions. Then she paused a moment to let the message sink in. During the silence, a child down at the far end of the chancel behind the baptismal fount, toward which she had not pointed, said in a wee, small voice, “What about me?”

Have you ever been watching television and the announcer suddenly interrupts and says, “We interrupt this program to bring you an important announcement.”

Cannon Dick Sheppard was the minister at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the heart of London right after World War l. It is reported that when he died, quite suddenly, one of the morning newspapers printed a large photograph of his pulpit. There it was, the same as ever, but empty. However, the Bible on the pulpit was still open with a ray of light across it. Beneath the picture were these words: “Here endeth the first lesson.”

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For sure, we will never forget the pictures and sounds of Sept. 11, 2001 — those hijacked planes and crumbling buildings; the immense human suffering; those heroic public servants and citizens; the memorial services; a nation under attack; a nation at prayer and a nation responding.

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The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). I wonder if you agree?