Dec 252004

It’s Christmas. I made the 11 hour drive (took 13 this time due to an accident) from Tampa to Kings Mountain. Lay decided to stay home, so it was all me. Sounds like a long drive, but I can use the time for a lot of thinking and unwinding. I pass the time with Audible Books, so its not so bad. Most likely, I’ll return to Tampa tomorrow, Sunday.

I remember a number of weeks ago talking to my friend Rick. All of his relatives that lived here in KM are now dead. I could hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “For the first time I have no reason to go to Kings Mountain.” That will probably be a very sad time for me. I can’t imagine what it will be like when KM is no longer the place to go home for the holidays.

Last night I attended the candlelight service at my old home church with Mom and my sister Robin. The church was packed, and its always a lot of fun to see those many people that helped me grow up, either as adults guiding the way, or friends joining me in learning the lessons of life. It’s just hard to think about so many of my friends with college age and grown children. And so many of the adults with the gray hair and stooped over backs. Each year there are more people I don?t know, and fewer of the people I grew up around.

But this is not meant to be a sad commentary. I really enjoyed the familiarity and the renewed friendships. These are people that genuinely care where you are, and how you are doing. I enjoyed most watching the children staring at the huge Chrismon trees and the candles. The service was a service of Lessons and Carols. Singing all the old familiar Christmas songs is always a great comfort. During this time of year I’m reminded of a saying by Rachael Carson, “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.” Children can always remind us of the beauties and mysteries of life.

As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to understand the Christmas story as told in the Bible probably has no historical accuracy at all. It can make one question one?s beliefs, but for me it’s not important that the story be historically accurate. The miracle is all about how the magic of the story has survived all these centuries, and the celebration is one that ties us to peoples throughout time. As Henry Emerson Fosdick said, “I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”

The basic element of the story is the coming of God?s presence through a child. I often ponder the significance of God’s gift of his presence among us. He came not on a great horse with trumpets and angels and clouds and thunder. He came quietly in the night, to a stable, through a baby. Perhaps, it was to remind us that the miracles of life are all around us, and always with us. Its our responsibility to recognize and appreciate them.

Many of the gift giving traditions of the holidays has gotten out of hand, but the basic element remains the same. It’s still about giving of oneself to others in love. I hope to think of ways next year to use this time to remind me of the lessons of the founder Methodism, John Wesley. Wesley challenged us to, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, With all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.”

Christmas and even the more secular celebrations from which many of our traditions arise, is also about the coming of light into the world. At time when our days are the shortest, and the weather the coldest, there comes the warmth of family and friends, the security of our traditions, and the light of love.

I’ve been blessed with all these things and so much more, so I have a wish for each of you.

Happiness, deep down within.
Serenity, With each sunrise.
Success, In every facet of your life.
Friends, Close and caring.
Love, That never ends.
Joyous memories, Of all the yesterdays.
A bright today, With much to be thankful for.
A path, To beautiful tomorrows.
Dreams, that do their best to come true.
Appreciation, Of all the wonderful things about you.

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