Reprieve! Looks like the end of the world may have already happened, and we all blinked and missed it… It turns out the ancient Mayan calendar, thought be some to predict the apocalypse does not end come to an end on December 21, 2012. That’s comforting news… I suppose.
A new book “Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World” (Oxbow Books, 2010) argues that the standard conversions of dates from old Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years. This throws the hyped 2012 date off by decades, meaning the deadline may have already passed, or could still be an indeterminate day in the future. Gerardo Aldana, University of California, Santa Barbara professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies headed the new research.
As a Christian I’m curious but unimpressed by end-of-the-world talk. Yes, the Bible teaches that time and space as we experience them had a beginning and will have a specific end, with the return of Jesus. God created. He began the story and will end it. This foundational belief is core to the way we understand the universe, and our own place in it. History is a story… HIS Story… This belief prompts us to live our lives with sobriety and a sense of urgency and yet a settled peace and trust that Jesus has all in hand. In one sense we’re sympathetic to the Mayan doomsday believers – we see an end coming.
On the other hand the Bible tells us not to worry about days and deadlines. We can never know specifics about the ending, Jesus warns us. Instead, he says that we should live with a constant anticipation, always on the alert, holding loose to the moment because the end could be today. Jesus taught us to “Live this day as if it will be our last – in this mode.”
Christians never live with doom or fatality. We don’t live as if this day will be our literal last, but that it may well be our last here and now. Christians have no “end point.” We have no deadlines. We are living forever in a form of existence we cannot now imagine. There is urgency in us, but never panic or fear or dread.
This sense of “ending that isn’t an ending” frames my moment by moment life. I have a lot to complete in my life. But if I don’t get to everything – by 2010 or whenever – that’s okay. I’ve pretty much determined that I’ll never learn to play the piano in this life. Okay, I’ll save that for what comes next.
“God, you began things. You will end them. I trust you with the details. I know the end of the story: for all those who lean in and trust you, the tale concludes, “And they lived happily everafter.” I’m living today banking on that premise. In the meantime help me prepare my own life and my character to live forever with you. Help me to live each moment in synch with your Spirit, and while I am here to bring others closer to a relationship with you. The end of the world is coming, but it is not the end. And while I can’t know details and dates, I don’t need to know that. I know YOU, and that is enough. I’ll trust you with the fine print. In the meantime, I’m here and at work at my post. I’m enjoying cups of good coffee, knowing my sons are relishing their stay in Hawaii, watching joy of my daughter staring at her new diamond ring… End of the world… Whatever! In Jesus I live today… and tomorrow securely.”