Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whad I Bring You?

The Christmas season is officially upon us now with the passing of Thanksgiving. I must admit that the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year with all the preparations that must be made as well as all of the fond memories I have of Christmas past.

One of my favorite Christmas hobbies is the collecting of Christmas music and traditions from different cultures all around the world. During the next few weeks, I am going to share some of these "different" songs and stories with you, which I think you will enjoy.

Being of Polish descent, I think it is appropriate that I start the holiday season off with some "Polish" Christmas music and an enjoyable Christmas story. Enjoy the Veggie Tales as they sing about the eight Polish Christmas Foods! Then, on the more serious side, enjoy one of the traditional Polish Christmas carols. Finally, enjoy a Christmas story from a story taken from a family at Downriver Christian Community Church.

The VanRiper Polish Christmas!

The VanRiper family came up with a great idea one year to celebrate the Christmas season through a new and exciting way. They decided that each year they would pick a different ethnic culture from different parts of the world, study that culture and its Christmas traditions, and then celebrate Christmas day with that particular culture's traditional foods. Great excitement filled the hearts of the VanRiper family as they set off on their new-found mission. Debbie, being "Polish," decided that the first year's celebration would be Polish! She contemplated how to educate her children about her wonderful national heritage and the richness she enjoyed as a young girl. She planned lessons, researched traditional Polish Christmas foods and songs, and set about to make the VanRiper Christmas a Christmas they would all remember!

On Christmas Eve, all the VanRipers and their relatives were gathered at the VanRiper house for their new traditional ethnic Christmas dinner! Debbie had taken great pains in her preparations for this meal. She had shopped at different Polish markets, looking for just the right authentic Polish foods. She even found some authentic Polish candy to decorate the place settings at the Christmas dinner table. The menu that Christmas Eve included sauerkraut - which had been cooked overnight - angel wings - which Katie obtained from elderly Polish ladies in the neighborhood -and "real" Kielbasa - which Debbie had bought at an authentic Polish meat market in downtown Detroit! The culmination of the special preparation was the making of homemade golambek (stuffed cabbage) and pierogis! All was painstakingly thought out and prepared with love and with anticipation of delightful appreciation!   

When the dinner was served that Christmas Eve, all the relatives were quite impressed with the spread. Smiles and talk of how impressive everything looked, smelled, and tasted flowed from the mouths of Debbie's relatives. She was caught up in rapturous joy of the moment. Unfortunately for Debbie, however, that joy would be short-lived! Debbie's husband and children were approaching the buffet line when they began experiencing culture shock and awe! "Where is the REAL Christmas dinner they all asked in total disbelief?" "This IS the 'real' Christmas dinner," Debbie countered, confident that once they tasted the food, they, too, would love the food! "Remember, we all agreed to have an ethnic dinner from a different part of the world each year." The VanRiper family managed to pick through the assortment of outstanding Polish foods available and find something. There were no words from her family as to how impressed they were with everything she had prepared, only looks of confusion and displeasure at the taste of new foods that they had never eaten before.

When the time came around the following year and talk began afresh about having a new traditional Christmas dinner, the VanRiper family decided unanimously that they were going to celebrate Christmas the old fashion VanRiper Way - ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and the same old same old.  If there was going to be a Christmas ethnic dinner that they could all sit down and enjoy, it would be the traditional "ethnic" VanRiper Christmas dinner! 

As we speed toward Christmas Day, take the time to enjoy this season regardless of the gifts, food, and busyness that can easily override the real reason we celebrate this season. May we enjoy the time with family and friends as well as the memories of Christmas celebrations that may not have turned out the way we planned, but left us with lasting and wonderful memories nevertheless. If you allow Jesus to really be the reason for the season, nothing will mean more to you during this great time of year!

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

Monday, November 21, 2011

Have a Tebow Thanksgiving!

Well, well, well, what do know about that? It seems ALL the football experts have egg on their faces after last Thursday's night pro football game between the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets. If you have not been following the career of Denver quarterback Tim Tebow or the recent ascent of the Denver Broncos in the NFL standings, it may be understandable if you know nothing about football, like my lovely wife. For the rest of us alpha males, sports junkies, and  football crazies - what is going on in Denver is nothing short of incredible!

Last year, Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos after an amazing football career at the University of Florida. He won numerous awards and recognition from every nook and cranny around the sports world. He was heralded as a winner and as an example as to what college sports should be about. Overlooked or ridiculed by much of the media was his strong commitment to Jesus Christ and his religious beliefs. The son of missionaries to the Philippines, Tim was home schooled as a youth and received an outstanding education from his parents.

When Tim was drafted by the Denver Broncos, he was ridiculed by football "experts" as lacking in quarterbacking ability and technique. He had come out of a gimmicky college "spread" offense at Florida and was supposedly ill-prepared to manage a "professional" style offense in the NFL. Criticism included improper throwing motion, lack of accuracy, and an inability to make quick and proper check downs required in the pro passing game. Tim spent his first year as an understudy to the starting quarterback and hardly played during the course of the 2010-2011 season. When the pre-season started this year, Tim was third on the Denver Bronco depth chart. Many pundits were calling for Tebow to be traded or released because he just did not posses the "it" required by professional quarterbacks.

But something unimaginable happened to the Broncos on the way to the AFC Western Division basement and on the way to being designated a perennial whipping boy for opposing teams this year. Enter Tim Tebow! The Denver Broncos started the season off with one win and four losses. The season was quickly spiraling down the toilet when the head coach of the Broncos made a very controversial decision. He had decided that he was going to give Tim Tebow the starting job at quarterback and see if ANYTHING could awaken the lethargy of his floundering football team. Criticism poured in from all "experts" over the coaches decision, but he was not deterred! In his first professional start, Tebow rallied the Broncos in the final quarter to the surprise of almost everyone. In his second start, he was man handled by the Detroit Lions and it looked like the Tebow experiment was turning out badly! In his third start, the Broncos rallied once again in the final quarter for a win, but the criticism only increased. "Lucky," "unsustainable," "fortunate" and many other derisive descriptive terms were thrown Tebow's way. Tim handled all the criticism with class and good humor and made no excuses for his on the field performance. Also during this time, a hilarious craze began to sweep the country which was called "Tebowing." "Tebowing" is name for a position which Tim assumes after he scores a touchdown. Tim would get down on one knee, bow his head and give thanks to Jesus Christ. The fad went viral on the internet and soon everyone was "Tebowing" and submitting pictures to the "Tebowing" website! Needless to say, Tebow was criticized for this craze when he had absolutely NOTHING to do with it other than being the poster boy for it because he knelt to give thanks after a Denver Bronco touchdown! 

What is Tebowing?  (vb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different!
Over the course of the last five games that Tim has started as quarterback, the Broncos have gone 4 and 1 and are making a run for first place and a playoff position! A season that seemed doomed to despair is now pregnant with possibility! The national sports media cannot believe what is happening with Tebow's performances, but his teammates have rallied around him and have feed off his enthusiasm and faith! The entire city of Denver has been revitalized by their football team in the face of such incredible odds and the entire country has now been captivated by his fourth quarter exploits. The leadership exhibited by Tim is remarkable for a man as young as he is and even the head coach must have rubbed his eyes a couple of times with disbelief and even "Tebowed" at his quarterback's inspiring performances.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us be reminded and thankful for all of the things God has blessed us with in our lives. The scripture tells us in Ephesians 5:20:
...always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (NASB)

Also, Romans 14:11 says:
It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" (NIV)

May we emulate the example of Tim Tebow and give thanks and bow before God always for the seemingly small or the big things that God has so graciously given to us. May we stand tall in the face of doubt and unrelenting criticism and continually represent what we profess and believe. May we always be mindful of the precious gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life so we could have eternal life and fellowship with the Father. And finally, may everyone have a "Tebow Thanksgiving!"- I know I will!

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

P.S. For more hilarious "Tebowing" pictures, go to:    Enjoy!