December 18, 2013 - It is less than a week to go. It is crunch time. That may either bring you joy, relief or panic. But the calendar will not slow down or speed up. Christmas is on the horizon, just out of touch but coming into focus.
In the original story, we can imagine two figures making the first Christmas holiday trip home.
Traveling pregnant and poor in first century Palestine had its own challenges.
There would be no upgrades, or lost baggage, or delayed flights. It was just a long walk with plenty of time to think about what was happening.
There were so many things to consider and not a little trepidation about the arrival of the new child. Where they would stay, what they would eat, how would the birth process go and a thousand other thoughts occupied their minds.
The first Christmas was anticipated by a couple who were weary, anxious, excited, and scared all at the same time. They had never experienced Christmas before, but then no one had.
All they knew was that life was about to change and then keep changing forever. Christmas was on the horizon, just out of touch but coming into focus.
I look around this community and see a world that is preparing for a Christmas different than any other.
I share with families who in the past year have lost loved ones or gone through painful changes in relationships making this a difficult holiday.
I celebrate with couples who are beginning their life together and pregnant either literally or figuratively as they know the future is unfolding in new and wonderful ways.
We enter this Christmas still on the high of being State Champions and know that knowledge will bring joy to this Christmas and be a point of pride for years to come.
We live in a time of uncertainty with global and local issues promising that the past will give way to changes we do not fully understand.
There are many reasons why we need to be a part of this Christmas story.
Christmas has an eternal truth to it. It comes always to a changing world and changing lives.
We celebrate Christmas traditions as if they are timeless.
But the only timeless thing about Christmas is the simple truth that it comes to us wherever we are and whatever we are going through. It comes to all people and is often celebrated in the least likely places.
Christmas comes continually, whether you want it or not, believe in it or not. Christmas comes and comes back again until it surrounds you and brings our life and our world into holy focus.
I pray you have a blessed Christmas. Whatever your situation or expectation, know this Christmas is given for you and for all.
It is your free gift of divine grace calling you to new horizons and giving to us a way of seeing the joy, hope, peace and love that you, we and all were always intended to share. Merry Christmas.
The Rev. Richard L. Dake is pastor of Clarkston United Methodist Church