While most people are busy preparing for the holidays, others are worried that there might not be a holiday to celebrate.
The winter solstice on Dec. 21, 2012, occurs four days before Christmas. It also marks the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, and doomsdayers predict a catastrophic event will happen.
The rumors are so prevalent that NASA has a question and answer column on its website backed with facts contradicting speculation that Planet X or a meteor will strike the Earth or a polar shift will occur in a matter of hours.
People worldwide are gearing up for what they believe could be the last day of their lives.
Locally, a church that believes the Earth will continue to spin on its axis as it has done for thousands of years will hold an observance to counter the gloom and doom.
On the darkest day of the year, the Not the End of the World Service will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at Newry Lutheran Church, 1040 Shamrock Lane, Newry.
Pastor Mike Rhyne said the church decided to hold the service as a way of proclaiming that "our faith is in Jesus, not in a Mayan calendar."
He said he and a friend from seminary discussed the predictions in 2009 after the movie "2012" showed up at the box office and programs about the end of the world began appearing on television.
He said they tossed around the idea of getting together on Dec. 21, 2012, to celebrate their faith.
Although his friend cannot come to the area that day, about five local Lutheran pastors will contribute to the service, including the Rev. Timothy Knauss, assistant to the bishop of the Allegheny Synod of the Evangelical Churches in America.
A Baptist and a Church of the Brethren pastor also may participate.
The celebration of faith will include Communion and it is open to anyone who has been baptized into the Christian faith, Rhyne said. It is a liturgical service with hymns such as "The Solid Rock" (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less) and "Holy, Holy, Holy" planned in opposition to the negative pronouncements.
After the service, a social time will be held.
Men have predicted the demise of the Earth before, he said, and the Internet provides history on end of the world predictions that missed their mark, including preachers trying to pinpoint the return of Jesus Christ.
"Time and time again, it's been predicted," he said.
A preacher named William Miller expected the return of Christ between 1844 and 1845, Rhyne said. When it did not happen, the followers of Miller, known as Millerites, experienced taunting, vandalism and a church burning among other instances of violence.
As recently as last year, Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio International, Oakland, Calif., warned of an apocalypse and the return of Christ on May 21, 2011.
Family Radio International spent millions of dollars to warn others about the impending changes by erecting billboards throughout the United States and encouraged Camping's followers to take the message to other nations. Camping said millions would be spared but others would experience earthquakes and plagues and demise of the Earth.
Camping followers believed so strongly in the prediction that they quit their jobs and spent their life savings to get the word out.
When May 21, 2011, came and went without a major catastrophe, Camping originally said he got the date wrong. Later, he said he was no longer going to make such predictions.
Rhyne said when Jesus talks about his second coming in Mark, he tells people that neither the angels in heaven nor the Son of God know the day or the hour of his coming.
He said when Jesus comes, he will be Lord of all and will reign with justice.
"Things will be a lot better than they are," Rhyne said.
Rhyne said the biblical book of Revelation does talk about the beast and destruction, but the ultimate message is that God calls people to himself.
He said, "God is cosmic and powerful. He will restore creation to what it was originally intended to be," he said.
Rhyne said, "the message of the evening will be that our hope is not in human predictions but in God and that whether the world ends today or in 10,000 years, God is in control."