Nativity Notes
You’re Gold
A Short Essay by Tiffani Burnett-Velez
Whenever Dean Pompa asks me to speak at Celtic Spirituality Night I always ask myself, “Why? Why would he ask me to speak when there are a million other people he could choose from?”  And that makes me think, maybe, he asked me to reflect tonight because it’s December 29th, a nothing day sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, and let’s face it, he probably couldn’t get someone extremely important to speak. But then, I wonder if maybe he sees something in me.
And I wonder if this is how my students feel when I praise them for a job well done. If they think of all that’s wrong with them when asked to share their gifts. Not my evening students, where I teach at a local college. They expect me to find the good in them, to see their many achievements. To pull the best out of them. No, I’m talking about my daytime students. They’re recovering heroin addicts, homeless single moms, 40-year-olds with longer rap sheets than a work histories, 9th grade dropouts looking for a way to make a living wage, immigrants who can’t even say, “good morning,” in English. People who have no community, no support, no cheering section, except, my colleagues and me.
My daytime students come into one of my three classrooms expecting absolutely nothing to happen, but in their strength and fortitude, in their ability to smile despite their many sufferings, I see gold. I see a young mother who can most definitely achieve her dreams. I see the stuff she’s made of and I know she can master the GED. I see the recovering addict and I see the ironclad focus as he wrestles and fights with an essay about himself, and I know that he’ll overcome once more and he’ll keep doing it. I see the ESL student from wartorn Syria and I rejoice with her in acquiring new language skills, enough to sit through a job interview and begin working with the general American public and understanding what’s going on 80% of the time. I tell her, “One day, your American grandchildren are going to tell their friends about your amazing strength and how you survived one of the most brutal wars in human history, came to America with only a UN asylum recommendation, and made a whole career for yourself and provided for your family on a dream and the fumes of whatever strength you had left. You Are the American dream,” I tell her. And she thinks I’m crazy.
When I look at my students, all of them, I see gold. They see flaws, mistakes, tragedy, trauma, blood, death, failure, but I see the gold they have grown weary of searching for outside themselves. I think God looks at us this way. He triggers a detail in our personality for someone else to notice. They pull it out of us, hold it up in front of our faces and say, “You’re so good at this. You’re so talented at that. You know so much about that subject. You’re amazing.” And we automatically think they’re just being nice or need something and we’re the best they can get at the moment.
Yesterday, I completed a resume for one of my new students whose never had a resume before. He’s the one who never went beyond 9th grade. He has a beautiful spirit, a wealth of experience, a solid work history, a deep dedication to his family. But he really needs a job before his family gets evicted. His wife is laid up with blood clots in her legs from a daily 6 hour commute to and from New York City. He is recovering from a broken ankle. They don’t know a single soul in Pennsylvania. They think this place is a foreign country. I asked him a few questions, took notes, and in one page created a resume that reflected all the talents and hard-earned accomplishments of his life, a life he never thought too highly of. When I showed it to him, he almost cried. He asked for copies. “I’m gonna frame that,” he said. “I’ve never seen myself this way before. I look so good!”
“It’s because you are that good,” I said. “It’s all true. Just the facts of your life. Where you see no high school education, I see how you were promoted to supervisor and certified to drive a forklift in less than a year. I see how your boss valued your hard work so much that he kept you in his employ for nearly 20 years. I see your ability to speak English and Spanish fluently. I see how you’ve gone 13 states away to lay gas lines in Florida, so that your children in Brooklyn could eat. I see gold. That’s why you should never trust yourself to write your own resume. Let someone who believes in you do it.”
I think God looks at us this way. I think if he wrote our resumes they would shine so much brighter than when we write them. So, as you’re moving into 2019, and when you’re feeling low (because you will, we all do) and you’re feeling unaccomplished, weak in comparison to the outside, shallow standards the world constantly bombards you with, consider this: When God looks at you, he says, “She’s gold.” And he’s far more grateful for you than I even am for my amazing students, because he’s not just our cheering section, he’s our creator. He looks at you and says, “She’s beautiful. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” And he’ll spend all of 2019 proving that to you through every good and perfect thing that comes your way. If you’re not focused on your failures, you’ll see these things--big and small--and they’ll be too many to list by December 29, 2019 when you reflect. They’re the same things you probably missed in 2018, when you were too busy being unsatisfied with yourself. You’re good enough. You’re better than that. You’re gold. To him, we all are. Let’s not forget that amongst the noise and chaos of a, sometimes, very unkind world. 

Adult Forums:
Jan. 6 - Epiphany Blessing & Breakfast with Einstein the Camel
Epiphany Blessing & Breakfast
Sunday, January 6th 8:45 AM-10:15 AM

Special Guest: Einstein the Camel

Bring a gift for Baby Jesus. Proceeds benefit the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome, Italy.
Organ Birthday Recital  Sunday, January 20, 4 PM. Organ Birthday Recital #1 with Robert McCormick, recitalist, playing the first in a series celebrating the 20 th anniversary of the Cathedral Organ’s installation. Expect remarkable performance of stellar repertoire and a bit of amazing improvisation!
Nativity Book Club January 31 at 11 AM we will discuss Catherine The Great by Robert Massie. (Note the change of date.) The book for February is Why Religion by Elaine Pagels.
Community Breakfast Martin Luther King Day Community Breakfast will be held in Sayre Hall at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity on Monday, January 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM. This is a free community event. RSVP to Jen or 610-867-4669 x104.
Emergency Shelter Season 2018-2019

Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering will be once again be in action this winter to shelter our street neighbors. A single site at Christ UCC Church, 75 E. Market Street, will also be used again. We will be covering the odd numbered Thursdays as we did last year, and will be using SignUp Genius for online registering of volunteers. The dates are December 1 through March 31 as we've done in the past. You can also contact either Deacon Rodney ( or 484-232-6122) or James Reader ( or 610-417-7418) should you need assistance in signing up, or if you have any questions.

We need people to help register guests, get them their bunk assignment, prepare and serve meals, chaperone through the night and coordinate clean up in the morning. The shelter will open its doors to guests at 5:00 pm and all guests will be out of the building by 7:00 am. This year there will be at least two paid staff members on site from 4:00 pm until 8:00 am.

Parishioners in the Hospital  If a family member is hospitalized, please contact either the clergy or leave a message with the parish office (610-865-0727) informing us of who is in the hospital and at which hospital.
Annual Meeting
Sunday, January 27 - Parish Annual Meeting & Breakfast
8:00 AM Holy Eucharist
9:00 AM Sunday School & Annual Meeting
10:30 AM Holy Eucharist
Cathedral Schedule

Friday, January 4
10:00 AM Nativity Staffs the Thrift Shop

Saturday, January 5
9:00 AM Altar Guild Prep – Cathedral
10:00 AM Thrift Shop Open Until 1 PM
10:30 AM Memorial Service for Barbara Hohe
5:00 PM Holy Eucharist – Cathedral

Sunday, January 6
8:00 AM Holy Eucharist - Cathedral
8:45 AM Epiphany Blessing & Breakfast with Special Guest EINSTEIN the Camel
10:30 AM Holy Eucharist - Cathedral

Monday, January 7
9:00 AM Flower Arranging for Hospital Visitations - Sacristy

Tuesday, January 8
1:00 PM Al-Anon Meeting - Room 21
1:30 PM History Group - History Room
2:00 PM Clergy Bible Study - Good Shepherd Chapel
7:00 PM Property Committee Meeting - Conference Room
7:00 PM Yarns of Love - Dining Room

Wednesday, January 9
9:00 AM Holy Eucharist | Healing Service - Good Shepherd Chapel
9:30 AM EfM - Room 22
10:00 AM Nativity Staffs the Thrift Shop
1:15 PM Yarns of Love - Dining Room
3:15 PM Private Tutoring - Good Shepherd Chapel
6:30 PM EfM - Goodwin Room
6:30 PM New Bethany Ministries Parenting Class - Good Shepherd Chapel, Nursery
7:00 PM Choir Rehearsal - Choir Room

Thursday, January 10
10:00 AM Nativity Staffs the Thrift Shop
10:00 AM Diocesan Finance Committee - Room 23
7:00 PM S-Anon - Room 21

Friday, January 11
10:00 AM Nativity Staffs the Thrift Shop

Cathedral Church of the Nativity
321 Wyandotte Street | Bethlehem PA 18015
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