"For everthing a season." "His mercies are new every morning." Eccl.

Vacation time: a study in contrasts, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, 3 a.m.

I'm drawn to the window wall in our room, framing a remarkable skyline. From the Imperial Palace, left to right, the Flamingo, Barbary Coast, Bally's, Bellagio, Paris, MGM Grand, three with names unseen, ending on the right with New York, NY. Las Vegas is a panoramic half circle of brilliant, dazzling, electric glitter and glitz. It jolts the senses with a marvelous, showy, epic picture rivaling a Cecil B. DeMille film.

The black night sky backdrops the scene like a velvet picture of Elvis. No expense has been spared to visually overwhelm. Probably all eyes (human, that is) delight in seeing something like this, even if it portrays a false sense of technology-induced security against the darkness. It's an awesome spectacle of lighting techniques advertising man's attempts to counterfeit the scripture verse, "The Light has come into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it." It's a city whose downtown flagrantly capitalizes on humanity's desperate longing to get something for nothing.

No criticism intended. It's a legitimate need, only motivated by confused value systems where luxury, money and entertainment are designed to replace or enhance relationships, and close out of consciousness a part of the world where need dominates greed. Inducing instant self-gratification for the created, as opposed to inspiring worship of the Creator does not necessarily guarantee humanitarian efforts.

At 5:45 a.m. comes a reality check in the form of an incredibly beautiful sunrise, with high arched peach colored cloud streamers lit by the sun, riding a translucent blue sky, a free gift from God daily, seen or unseen.

Man's sweat-stained labor may captivate the senses temporarily; God's handiwork frees the soul and spirit. The best man can do with technology is temporary, a facade, subject to sudden power outage. The smallest action of God's Word alone is eternal, with never a power outage.

Comparative shopping? "R and R" is great and refreshing if you keep it in perspective, if it doesn't become a life-style. Let's not allow the allure of the temporary to distract us from the real thing, the power that never fails. A study in contrasts? There's self-serving vs. God-serving, performance vs. relationships. The money generated here could not only feed His Supper Table patrons for decades, it could feed a world. We choose.

Coliseum, first mezzanine, 2nd row: We are here to view and listen to Celine on her first night back from a month's vacation, in the coliseum built for her. It seats 4,000 enraptured fans, equally focused upon, senses bowed to, the slender figure whose voice pours out music magic of astounding delicacy, purity, power, vibrato and range. Action-packed visual effects vie for attention on a 110-foot wide LED.

"A New Day" is the title; a feast for young, old, eager, tired, expectant eyes and senses numbed by a city of incessantly clanging, grinding slots. Images of this extraordinary entertainment may be retained as flashbacks for a good 24-72 hours.

For long-lasting impact I choose a Nevada sunrise. Not that we want to give up the alchemic glimpses of gold during our human experience, but God does provide us a WEALTH of new days, complete with fresh mercies and grace and opportunities to serve Him, new each morning. (Eccl)

Number of meals served in July: 3,199; Total number of meals served to date in 2003: 22,248; Meals served in 5 years: over 147,000.

Donations to HST may be mailed to P.O. Box 796, Ilwaco, WA 98624

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