SERMON: NEW YEAR PREDICTIONS
December 31, 2017
On this New Year’s Eve Sunday, I’m certain that we have many hopes and desires and expectations for the new year of 2018. If you made any predictions, what would they be?
Predictions are tricky things. Astronomer James T. Adams said: “Any astronomer can predict with absolute accuracy just where every star in the universe will be at 11:30 tonight. But he can make no such prediction about his teenage children.”
We tend to predict looking at the way things are right now, but however stable our predictions seem, we know some will change. The course of the heavenly stars in 100,000 years won’t be the same. The starry night then won’t be the starry night of today. We can accurately predict some changes. But we often can’t predict ahead because we haven’t the insight or knowledge to know what’s coming. Out of the blue a scientific discovery, or medical revelation, or invention may come which changes our future dramatically. Remember the world before the internet? No-one could reasonably predict that it was going to take off the way it did. Millions of people planned their lives without the World Wide Web. But suddenly, everything changed. Businesses were shaken up, some disappeared, and new ones emerged. Even language changed as new words were invented to describe things. We have a desktop on our laptop, and we move a mouse to manoeuver the curser, the directional arrow. Some folks resisted computers but it didn’t make any difference. The internet had arrived and it was here to stay – until some totally new, still-unknown phenomenon pushes IT aside and things will change again.
As writer Joseph Campbell observes: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Some predictions have been spectacularly wrong…
“Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant … utterly impossible.” Simon Newcomb (1835-1909)
Decca Recording Company turned down the Beatles in 1962, saying: “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.”
A Munich schoolmaster told 10 year old Albert Einstein: “You will never amount to very much.”
Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox, said about television in 1946: “Television won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months – people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” said Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.
Aside from these amazing mistakes, there is no doubt that the future will bring both change and opportunity. And with the passing of the old year and the start of any new year, we look back – where have we been? What did we do? What did we accomplish? What would we like to change? What can we change in this year of new beginnings? What would you do, how would you behave, if you knew absolutely what changes were going to happen this year? Perhaps you would invest in some things and avoid others. Maybe you’d start eating differently, or put some money aside? Maybe you’d choose to spend more time with certain people?
Perhaps you’d give more thought and thanks to God for the birth of Jesus, the Messiah? The prophets of old predicted his coming – they gave thanks for God’s salvation. The Magi studying the stars and constellations predicted a royal birth in Israel, and they gave thanks as they kneeled before the Christ child in Bethlehem. Simeon and Anna at the temple in Jerusalem gave thanks to God for seeing the Messiah when Mary and Joseph brought the young child Jesus to present him to the Lord, according to Jewish custom.
We “see” Jesus every day. He came to be among us so that we can trust in His presence with us. Every day. His Spirit is with us. And Jesus tells us that we can’t serve two masters – meaning, that he wants us to put him first. In Hebrews chapter 12: “…run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” Jesus tells us in Luke 9: 62: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” As Canadian National Ploughing Match Champion Paul Dodds says: “It is essential for the first furrow out on the field to set your sights on the sighting pole and don’t take your eyes off it. You want to set a straight line.”
We keep our eyes straight ahead on Jesus, our sighting pole. We don’t worry what’s behind us because we trust that Jesus will set our furrow, our path, straight ahead. In this new year, keep focussed on Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Our goal is to serve him, to be accountable to him, to listen, watch for him, commune with him, pray to him, and with him, respond quickly without procrastination or excuse. Keep Jesus first. Set your eyes on him. And like Anna and Simeon, when we see Jesus our Messiah, we perceive things through the eyes of eternity. We know that our salvation has arrived.