This year the World Peace and Health Organization held a Christmas celebration in its home town of Amsterdam, New York. The first phase of the celebration was the erection of a statue of liberty in the organization’s Peace, Health, and Friendship square outside of its public headquarters at Five World Buddhas Temple, formerly St. Casmirs Church.
Members of the mostly Chinese organization, decorated the Statue of Liberty with ribbons and red roses and to the accompaniment of gongs and drums they raised an American flag over the square at 2:00 p.m. on Christmas day. Many curious onlookers drove past the scene and honked their horns in approval of this heartwarming gesture, and those who stopped to chat personally were given the traditional Chinese holiday gift of red envelopes stuffed with money and candy.
Just as the flag was raised a large flock of white gulls flew directly over the square and circled over St. Casimir’s Church for several minutes. At that same moment the solid cloud cover in the sky broke to reveal a brilliantly shining sun surrounded by a halo of golden light. Everyone present immediately sensed these events as a divine approval of the intentions of the celebration, and the mission of the WPHO, namely to spread peace, health, and work towards unity among the human race.
With this blessing of nature in their minds, the overjoyed participants of the flag raising ceremony proceeded down to the Goddess of Mercy Temple located at the former St. Michaels church to continue the day’s festivities with a series of talks, performances, and a Christmas feast.
In attendance were the Western and Eastern members of the WPHO, Amsterdam residents, Native Americans, and members of the interfaith spiritual community. Everyone enjoyed the chance to experience Eastern and Western foods, Christmas songs, and dances, and of course to receive Christmas presents.
The deeper purpose and meaning of this cultural and spiritually diverse event was highlighted in a touching and spontaneous speech by Native American activist, Fidel Moreno.
At the end of the evening everyone reflected on the reason for the celebration of Christmas, and the hope and meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ and the Saints of all religions.