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The most powerful commercial this holiday season:

Country Living compiled this list of the 20 best Christmas commercials of all time. It includes last year’s Sainsbury’s ad, which is based on a true story from World War I:

Their ad from this year celebrates the same goodwill and connections that make so many of these other ads favorites:

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This month at Bothell, Washington’s famed Country Village shopping center, two reindeer are greeting visitors before they suit up for their Christmas Eve flight with Santa.

Reindeer 12-15 1

At first I thought Dasher (or Dancer?) was using the friendly neighborhood horse statue to itch her head, but reindeer evidently rub against available objects to remove velvet from their antlers, leave scents, etc. 

Reindeer 12-15 2

All done. Now to blend in with the sculpture.

Reindeer 12-15 3

Time to throw in some Chuck Berry (he’ll be 90 next year!)…

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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From Slooh.com, Santascope Provides Live Coverage Of Santa Over The Full Moon On Christmas Eve:

Children around the world can capture some unique Christmas magic in a gift from Slooh.

…Slooh has a special Christmas treat for our viewers. The Full Moon will be high in the sky during Santa’s trip, and Slooh astronomers say they might be able to catch a glimpse of jolly Saint Nick and his sleigh, from our SantaScope, as they pass in front of the Full Moon.

This is the first time the Full Moon has fallen on Christmas since 1977, and Slooh will enable you to capture Santa and his flying reindeer in our StarShare camera, which will be made available to the public for free for this day. Kids will be given the chance to snap their own photo of Santa Claus flying across the Full Moon, before visions of sugar plums dance in their heads!

We’ll be capping off the night with a special appearance by the Christmas Comet at Midnight EDT. Many believe the biblical Star of Bethlehem may have actually been a comet streaking through the night sky, guiding the Wise Men on their journey to greet the baby Jesus.

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Click picture to go to NORAD's site

Click picture to go to NORAD’s site

Originally published December 2013

S-s-s-s-SANTA!!! 

If that’s you as Christmas approaches, know that you are not alone in your unbridled exuberance. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, starts tracking Santa TONIGHT!

(AAAAHHH!!!) (more…)

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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6

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Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran

Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran

Many of you are familiar with the story of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran. The ACLJ has just published a Christmas letter he wrote, and I am riveted by this man’s faith and hope in the midst of the extreme physical hell and torture he’s enduring. As the letter says, this is his third Christmas in prison; America hasn’t yet brought him home.

If a man who is being slowly murdered for leaving Islam can rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas this much, how much more the rest of us?

#SaveSaeed – you can help!

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Rajai Shahr Prison 2014

Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintry manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

Soaking in the lava love of Christ

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Please visit the ACLJ’s page discussing this letter.

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A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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The Maccabeats have done it again! Here’s their new Hanukkah song All About That Nais. That strange word is explained in the preface to the video.

The original song is a crude homage to womanly figures and I love that the gentlemen from Yeshiva have once again morphed a party song into a memorable holiday tune. I remain a huge fan of their original Hanukkah hit Candlelight and their other remakes like Burn and (Ellie Goulding) and Miracle (Matisyahu) as well as original songs like Shine.

Really, it’s The Maccabeats who brought Hanukkah songs to mainstream pop; before them, the only mainstream Hanukkah song I can think of was Adam Sandler’s, and that came out 20 years ago. Just today a coworker and I were singing along in emphatic Sandler-speak: Tell your friend Veronica… it’s time to celebrate Chanukah…

In a world where popular music consists largely of mediocre acts lauded for their “talent” because of how lewd or controversial they are, The Maccabeats are refreshing. Their music speaks of love, hope, and overcoming darkness. They’re a bunch of guys having a blast singing their hearts out and celebrating who they are in front of the world. While no one will ever give me a recording contract, it’s uplifting groups like this that encourage me to keep being a rock star in the privacy of my own vehicle.

As evidenced by current events all over the globe, antisemitism is cool again. I applaud The Maccabeats for being so open and positive about their heritage in the midst of this gathering darkness towards Israel and her people. They are ambassadors for a group that has been relentlessly persecuted for thousands of years, and their survival in itself is a miracle.

So, guys, when are you going to collaborate with Avi Kaplan, who recorded his own take on this song as an actual bass? Rumor has it he’s game…

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends (it begins next Tuesday), and we Christians should not forget that our own salvation, celebrated this December 25th, came in the form of a Jewish carpenter.

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The man just opened his mouth, which meant that all kinds of secret doors in his body gave way. He did not sing so much as let his soul free. -Ray Bradbury

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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From the Adopt a U.S. Soldier website

From the Adopt a U.S. Soldier website. Click on the picture for more info.

Need a project for the holidays? Perhaps your church group, company, or civic organization wants to make someone’s Christmas brighter? Consider adopting a U.S. soldier. Our men and women are serving in myriad locations all over the world, some of which are dangerous and inhospitable. A little holiday cheer can go a long way.

At the Adopt a U.S. Soldier site, you simply sign up, and within a few days they’ll send you the name and contact information for “your” soldier. On the site it looks like you’re signing up to join a message board, but it really does contact the organization and get the process going.

While it’s up to you if you want to send care packages and how often, it’s ideal that you write to your service member once a week or so. Many of them do not receive mail from home, so receiving letters and goodies in the mail is a big deal. It lets them know that they’re appreciated, they’re not alone, and that someone cares.

Check out the Adopt a U.S. Soldier site and find out how you can provide important moral and possibly material support to someone who’s risking their life for others’ freedom. Many soldiers appreciate t-shirts and socks (regulation colors), snacks, games, reading material, and toiletries. It costs about $18 to ship a large flat rate Priority Mail box, but just a postage stamp to send a letter. Even those on limited incomes can make a world of difference.

Heaven knows I’m someone with strong opinions about foreign policy and what America does or doesn’t get involved in. But I’m a staunch supporter of the troops themselves, who often do thankless jobs at great risk and, when they come home, have the physical and psychological scars to prove it. While this organization is clear they’re not a pen pal service (the soldier might be unable to write back) or a matchmaking service, they are an excellent means by which you can be personally involved in a soldier’s well-being.

(P.S. A pointer from one soldier: Don’t send Monopoly; it ruins friendships.)

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What is Christmas?

It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. -Agnes M. Pharo

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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If you haven’t heard it already (it’s gotten nearly 15 million hits on YouTube), may I present the astounding a capella Mary, Did You Know? as performed by the Pentatonix.

Check out the Pentatonix YouTube channel for more Christmas magic. Their only instruments are their voices. Even if you think you don’t know who they are, you might remember when they did a cover of Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive with violinist Lindsey Stirling.

The secret ingredient that makes their group so exceptional is bass Avi Kaplan. Who knew that such range and depth– such a luxuriant, mature tone that sounds more heavenly than earthbound– could emanate from one so young. See his and Peter Hollens’ Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair for more of Avi.

(Thank you to my people who introduced me to the first song.)

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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