1/2/2000, Christmas 2 Year B
ilton Berle went to a fortune teller who looked into her crystal ball and said; “I see a beautiful woman coming into your life. I also see no woman coming into your life. I see that you will travel. I see that you will stay home. I see that I have a dirty crystal ball!”
A man was surprised to see his own obituary in the paper. He called a friend and asked, “Did you see my obituary in the paper today?” The friend answered, “Yes, and where are you calling from?”
We all want to know the future, but we have a murky image. Who will be our next President? Will we live to see the swearing in ceremony? How much longer will our government last? What is the future of the Christian Church? We do not know the answer to any of these questions, but we know one who does.
Our text says that God, “...has a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (v. 10, NRSV). It does not matter so much that we do not know the future because we have confidence in our omniscient Father who holds the future in his hand. That does not enable us to know the future, but it gives confidence as we journey.
But still, we all have a natural interest in the shape of the future.
One of my memories from elementary school was the interesting tabloid publication handed to each of us entitled, “My Weekly Reader.” I hope its still out there in schools because it was a window to the world for me. It was a kid’s newspaper that covered all areas of the news: I read it from front to back.
The banner to the most intriguing section was entitled, “The World Tomorrow.” Many things have not worked out exactly as the writers projected. For example, men and women do still wear different looking clothing. Ladies still like frills, and guys typically prefer a straighter cut. “The World Tomorrow” writers had us all wearing aluminum foil looking jump suits, with our heads shaved. As it turns out, today we wear about the same looking clothes as our parents did in 1955. We did have a 1970’s fling with bell bottom britches, and those awful Nehru jackets. There was way too much polyester double knit for a while. But, we are about where we were fashion wise.
Many other things have changed, some according to the vision of “The World Tomorrow” articles. We do now have covered shopping malls. Of course “The World Tomorrow” saw whole cities covered by a giant plastic bubble that was environmentally controlled: That may happen yet. 1950’s cars can still drive on Y2K roadways, even without onboard computers. All televisions are now color, and nobody expected cable television, or the Internet.
But, what will Tomorrow’s World look like? In 2020 will our vision be perfect?
Clothes and most other stuff will no doubt change somewhat. New gadgets will hopefully make life easier for our grandchildren, and great grandchildren. But, I am mainly concerned about more critical things: Free governments, human rights, morals, and of course the Christian Church. Many churches (denominations) will rise and fall. United Methodism is one that seems to be threatened by changes in society. However, the Church is promised by no less than Jesus Christ to be here Until The End of Time: “...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18). The continuing existence of the Church is a part of God’s plan for all time. Denominations might fail, but God will raise up new groups to take their place. Somehow, if Church doors always remain open, we can have bright hope for The World Tomorrow.
Perhaps, our hope of the continuation of the Church is what is meant in verses thirteen and fourteen of our text when it says that we have been, “...marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people...” It seems to be God’s desire to be at work in and through us to bring about the extension of the Kingdom into every heart that will allow him room.
In reference to the future, C.S. Lewis said this: “The great thing is to be found at one’s post as a child of God, living each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years. ( God in the Dock, “Cross Examination”, 1963, p 266).
Life, as we live it, is uncertain; but, as we “stand the post,” “...the mystery of his will...” (v.10) includes us into God’s plan as we are, “...adopted as his children through Jesus Christ.” (v.5).
Much uncertainty and fear has accompanied our step over into this new year. The same media that hyped fear that computers would not recognize the year 2000 and would self-destruct, are the same ones that led us to celebrate the new millennium a year early. Do we dare trust such opportunists?
I hope that if any of us, as God’s “adopted children” (v.5), have had any fear of Y2K, that it has been cast out. The only real thing we have to fear is the false fear that our tiny brains invent. As co-heirs with Christ, we have a share in God’s certain plan for the future, and we are assured by our Resurrected Lord that he has “prepared a place for us.... if it were not so, would I have told you?” (Jn.14:2).
In Christ, we are included in The World Tomorrow!
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor