Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005 | 7:54 a.m.
Tom Gorman's column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com or at (702) 259-2310.
Christmas is a big church day -- and one of the most trying.
The pews are more crowded, parents are sleepy, the children are antsy, and there's a temptation to mindlessly look at how everyone is dressed instead of listening to the day's carefully crafted message.
So if you were distracted in church, or didn't go, this column is for you.
I asked local clergy what gifts they hoped Las Vegans would give one another for Christmas. Here are some responses, a collection of Christmas sermonettes.
Pastor Benny Perez of the nondenominational Church at South Las Vegas:
"I hope this city will be filled with good will ... (of) people doing for others. Look for somebody to bless -- maybe someone who is out of a job and doesn't have money -- by taking them a gift.
"If you're a teenager, go to an older neighbor's house and pull their weeds or help them paint. Do acts of service."
Pastor Paul Goulet of the nondenominational International Church of Las Vegas:
"When I grew up, I had a lot of unforgiveness toward my father that turned into bitterness and then depression. When I was 18, I started the process of releasing and forgetting and letting go.
"I knew that if anyone was going to have to change, it was me. I chose to totally forgive him, and that Christmas was my best ever. I was able to tell him I loved him, and eventually he told me he loved me.
"I hope people offer one another forgiveness, which leads to acceptance, which leads to loving."
Pastor Dale Olson of Community Lutheran Church:
"We've been doing a series on Jim Stovall's book, 'The Ultimate Gift.' He said to make your life an extension of the ultimate gift you have received.
"So if the ultimate gift you received is money, then give money to others. If it is learning, give back by teaching. If someone gave you gratitude, then give back by being thankful and gracious."
Rabbi Yitzchak Wyne of Young Israel-Aish of Las Vegas (Hanukkah begins tonight):
"People should live their true values. Whether you're a Jew or a gentile, you should learn more about your religious heritage.
"You should develop a sense of who you are, and express it, and encourage other people to enhance their own lives in that same way. If we all did that, we would end up with a better, kinder, more peaceful, more meaningful society."
Pastor Robert E. Fowler Sr. of Victory Missionary Baptist Church:
"I hope for fairness. I would hope there would be fairness in government ... to insure the taxpayer has access and representation. I hope there would be fairness in employment -- with opportunities for qualified and skilled people regardless of their race or creed. ...
"I would hope there would be fairness in relationships -- husbands would treat wives right, wives would treat husbands right, parents would treat children right and children would respect and honor their parents appropriately ... that boyfriends and girlfriends would honor their relationships and not damage one another."
The Rev. Pat Render, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Community:
"I hope people give one another the sense of welcome. So many of us are from other places. This is a hard city to feel welcomed into. We have no common roots. And lots of people talk to me about loneliness.
"The message of Christ entering into the human race, if it says anything, speaks to us about how we ought to receive one another. So the gift I hope we give one another is to be as welcoming to a stranger as we would if we were looking at God."
Live in peace. Share your love. Merry Christmas.