The Christmas story is about journeys.  It is the story of a young expectant mother traveling to Bethlehem with her husband to pay taxes.  It is the story of the Magi following the stars in search of a King, and of humble shepherds taking leave of their sheep to find a Savior wrapped in cloth in a manger.

And so it is for all of us.  The birth of Christ marks the beginning of the journey to Easter and our personal journey from brokenness to wholeness.  For those who choose to listen, the Christmas story transforms each of us into a traveler on the road to reconciliation, redemption and hope.

Our personal journey has taken us to many places only God could have imagined, from the windswept plains of a North Dakota reservation to the sugar cane fields of south Florida; from a barrio in the desert Southwest to the hollows of Appalachia, and the streets of inner-city Washington, D.C.  Along the way we were blessed with a decade at Fredericksburg Baptist Church where we were nurtured, supported, challenged and uplifted.

In 2002, we were humbled to have been asked to share some stories of our journey with our fellow parishioners during Advent season.  And, this year, we are equally humbled to share these stories with our friends at Tabernacle Baptist Church. In the pages of this devotional you will hear the stories of those we have come to know as we have traveled…stories from our work with Native Americans, migrant farm workers, elderly persons and the homeless men, women and children.

Many of the people we will introduce to you in the pages ahead have led very difficult lives.  Most have overcome incredible odds and openly share their stories.  Others are more reticent, desiring to put the past behind them and grasp their new futures of hope.  In order to ensure that we did not compromise anyone’s privacy we have changed some of the details.

Additionally, to make it easier for readers (and the writers), we have chosen to refer to God as He, even though it our belief that God encompasses both masculinity and femininity.  All scripture references, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Bible in Today’s English Version, commonly know as the “Good News Bible.” 

A number of the readings make reference to Christ House, a medical recovery facility with 24–hour nursing coverage for homeless and formerly homeless men and women.  Christ House is an all-encompassing ministry with a social work department, a substance abuse recovery program, a worshipping congregation, and a staff who live in community on site.  Kairos House is a companion ministry nearby where former Christ House patients committed to recovery live in community. Christ House is located in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC, and was part of the Church of the Saviour’s family of ministries. The Church of the Saviour is now a scattered community of independent churches.

As we journey toward the destination of Christmas, we must recognize that this journey is only preparation for a longer one.  Christ invites you on a longer journey into the life of your community to tell the story of Jesus and reach out to a hurting world.

It is our prayer that through our stories you will hear the Christmas story in a different way this year, and the people we introduce to you will challenge you to invest yourselves even more in ministry at Tabernacle Baptist Church and in the community.   As we begin our journey remember these words of Jean Vanier:

We are called to drink deeply from the heart of Christ, so that we, the church, can become a home for the lonely and the crushed of this earth. Christ puts into the arms of His church the suffering and the hungry of this world so that they may heal us, call us down from our pedestals of power and wealth and lead us into the wisdom of the beatitudes.

Please come with us as we travel to Christmas.

Fred and Ginny Karnas

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