Ed, my neighbor next door, ended 2012 with a big surprise for everyone who knows him. It was, as the old saying goes, a big enough surprise to knock your socks off. After spending Christmas week in Mexico with his wife, Ruby, and their whole family, Ed dumbfounded Ruby and his family with the news that he and Ruby would be staying a week longer and flying home January 5th. Word is that Ruby wasn’t totally surprised, as it has been the story of their married life: she can hardly get Ed to go somewhere and then he is never ready to go home when it is time to leave.
A series of emails from Ruby announced to all the folks who regularly attend their annual New Year’s Eve party that it was canceled this year. It did contain three predictions that Ed wanted the folks to keep in mind so 2013 will not shock them. Even I got Ed’s predictions for 2013 which as usual range from silly to ordinary.
Ed’s predictions begin with a national forecast that in the coming year Justin Trudeau will jump to another political party, either becoming Finance Minister to Stephen Harper or becoming the leader of the N.D.P. In the U.S.A., President Obama will scrap universal health care in favor of universal armed guards for every school. On the local scene, the price of wheat will be up, hay will be scarce and gasoline prices will decline to 85 cents a liter in the coming year.
Each New Year, Ed challenges me to predict something of a religious nature, since I’m a retired pastor. He claims people would rather hear predictions than sermons any day of the year. I’m not sure what Ed uses to base his predictions of the coming year on – is it tea leaves or the position of the stars or the amount of frost on the trees? The only predictions I could make would be based on the Bible in a very general sense: sin is rampant every year. Sin has to be very bad before people get concerned. Only God can save us from the sin that holds us.
2012 upset many because of the evil of the shooting of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Sin seems harmless until it gets out of control and innocent people die. The Bible tells us that King Herod had all boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under killed. He did this to try to kill the one born “king of the Jews.” King Herod was filled with selfish ambition when he ordered the murder of innocent children in an attempt to destroy any possible threat to his throne. His private or personal sin became the public evil of the mass murder of innocent boys.
Each year, sin becomes compounded and easily grows out of control into evil actions. We may deny or ignore sin as if it isn’t the cause of evil. Yet, sin never rests among us. God alone undoes our sin. It is God and His word that makes us aware of our own sin and the need of His forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s forgiveness and love alone can undo the sin that binds us in any given year.