Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Will 2012 Look Like?

Greetings, Friends and Neighbors. Christmas 2011 is soon to be history and the New Year is right around the corner. 2012. It is hard to believe this is the "stardate." I remember reading 1984 by George Orwell in junior high, and thinking how far off that year was. Of course, some of the things Orwell's story predicted have come true; others, not so much. Hal Lindsay, a Southern Baptist evangelist wrote a book in the 1960s called The Late Great Planet Earth in which he suggested that, based on certain signs and prophesies he had "decoded" from the Bible, Jesus Christ could return before the end of the 1980s to usher in God's Kingdom and judge the earth. the 80s came and went without global judgment. Then we all feared the arrival of 2000 and the "millennial bug" that would fry all computers, clean out ever bank account, and steal candy from babies. Only happened in a gut-bustingly funny episode of My Name Is Earl. And let us not forget this old guy in California--Harold Camping--who predicted the end of the world this past May, which he then revised to October when it didn't happen in May. I guess what I'm getting at is: Why all this emphasis on "doom and gloom"? What if we were to look at the new year as an opportunity for progress, peace, and justice in our society and the world? Actually, I think this is more what Jesus was about. Oh, he talked about judgment, but more as a motivator to his listeners to live rightly and to care about others more fervently.

2012 could be an interesting year. The "Arab Spring" revolts have left a number of nations without a government. I traveled to Egypt this past November and met young leaders who asked us to pray for their country, that an intelligent, justice-oriented, progressive government might be elected, and that this could help rebuild hope for Egypt's people. Will do, Egypt; our prayers are with you. Could 2012 finally be a year when the global economy might begin to seriously turn around? Something to pray and work for, I guess. We all look forward to the days when basketballs and beach balls are bouncing playfully instead of the stock market and the unemployment rate.

Prayer is an important way for people who believe in it to "affect" the world. So if you believe, DO. However, all of us have the opportunity to affect how we conduct our own lives, and through our giving and volunteering, positively make a difference in the lives of those in need around us. Don't wait for "someone else" to be a community activist, volunteer, or generous philanthropist--do it yourself. And, as a citizen, take an active role in choosing a better government by voting. I continue to be amazed by the number of people I hear complaining about "the government," while in the next breath almost bragging that they "haven't voted in years." Shame on you. Vow in 2012 to not listen to these people; they have wasted their voice by not casting a ballot. They're just blowing hot air. As a wise sage has said, we can either be part of the problem, or we can be part of the solution. Remember JFK's variation on this theme: "Ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country." The concept works for your partner, family, community, and world, not just for America.

Hey, have a wonderful Christmas Season as we remember the Christ. I told my congregation recently about Michael Slaughter's book, Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, and his suggestion that Christians take HALF of what they would normally spend on Christmas gifts and give it to World Vision, the Heifer Project, the Salvation Army, or some other mission or charity that touches peoples' lives. It's not to late to do that, friends! Happy New Year to "yinz." And peace and goodwill toward all.

What's Next?

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