Though the theory has been debunked by just about every known archeologist and scholar as nothing more than myth, I suppose I ought to acknowledge here that according to a particular 5,125.37-year Mayan calendar cycle, the world is supposed to end tomorrow, Friday, December 21 (so, if you have some last minute errands to run, now would be the time …just sayin’!). Not that I’m the least bit worried about this; and not that this is first time such an ultimately false prediction has been made: actually, lately I’ve been remembering how it was about this time thirteen years ago, when the great concern worldwide about the so-called Y2K computer bug led to the groundless fear that the world would pretty much stop functioning at midnight on January 1, 2000. At the church I was serving in Maine at the time, our congregation had a huge bonfire on New Year’s Eve in the field in back of the church, and when the clock struck twelve, we all said a prayer, rang the newly repaired church bell, sang “Auld Lang Syne,” and then shouted, “Happy New Year! The Lights are Still On!”
Turned out it was much ado about nothing. Still, all these years later it occurs to me that in just about every era, we tend to become concerned over such matters, whether it’s based on dates found on a Mayan calendar or growing out of the understandable worries we all have about terrorism, wanton violence or an economical fiscal cliff. So it’s all the more important for us to remember that the Lord has indeed been “our dwelling place in all generations.” Truly, as the psalmist proclaimed, before mountains had been formed or ever had been “formed the earth and the world,” from Y-Zero to Y2K + 13 and beyond we can say with confidence that “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God’s focus is always set on the larger promise of that day to come when there will be “a new heaven and a new earth,” a place “where righteousness is at home” and the Lord will reign forever and ever.
That’s been God’s plan from the beginning of time – and our confidence and hope today comes in that divine promise. So it does seem that the best prayer that we can pray right now is for an awareness of God’s presence and promise in all things – personal, local, and global – in the year 2013 and every year that’s to come.
Actually, back in 2000, I found a prayer of sorts that was written for that New Year and the new millennium. I still don’t know who wrote it, and I don’t remember where I found it, but as I read it again recently, it turns out that it’s still very relevant for you and me, not only in the days of the pending Mayan Apocalypse, but also in these uncertain times win which we all live:
“In this new year, may you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastroenterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the IRS. May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.
“May you find a way to travel from anywhere to anywhere in the rush hour in less than an hour, and when you get there, may you find a parking place. May this day find you together with your beloved family and cherished friends, ushering in the New Year, and may it be that you found the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily have done today.
“May you also wake up tomorrow morning and find that the world has not come to an end, the lights work, the water faucets flow, and the sky has not fallen. (Moreover, when you look in the mirror) may what you see delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the whole world about your virtues.
“May you remember to say, “I Love You” at least once a day to your spouse, your child, or your parent. And [above all] may we all live in a world at peace and be aware of God’s love in every sunset, every flower’s unfolding petals, every baby’s smile, every lover’s kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.”
May we be aware of God’s love – for me, that says it all. And if there was one blessing that I could bestow upon each one of us in this and every season of the year, it would for that awareness of divine care in each and every aspect of our lives: in the good and the bad, the joyous and sorrowful, the utterly significant moments as well as amidst those that seem at first glance to be incredibly mundane. Indeed, to borrow a prayer I have spoken from the pulpit on many a Sunday morning, may our Lord’s presence be with each one of us today, tomorrow, from season to changing season, from age to age the same, our rock and our redeemer!
With that in heart, I’ll see you on Sunday morning!
c. 2012 Rev. Michael W. Lowry