The end of the world as we know it?Carla Harding - 12 Jan 2012
As 2012 dawns many are speculating about what the next 12 months will bring. Some look ahead with hope, others with fear, as this year seems to be one of the most anticipated and discussed since the turn of the millennium. So what’s ahead of us: more financial turmoil, political change, spiritual transformation, the end of the world, or something else? Should we all stock up on tinned goods and start digging shelters, or could there be signs of hope and faith: God’s Kingdom on the move.
As the New Year gets underway many nations are still recovering from the events of 2011. Millions in North Africa are caught up in the reconstruction of governments after last year’s Arabian Spring. Further south many Africans are grappling with drought, famine and violence. Europe and America are suffering the effects of economic collapse and in Asia natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and Tsunamis may have left our news headlines, but the challenge of rebuilding homes and communities is still a daily reality. There are many for whom 2012 will be a year where hope and the strength to persevere will be precious.
Yesterday, as I considered the year ahead, I Googled “2012” to read the cyber-chatter. Aside from the obvious references to the upcoming Olympics, the results linked to predictions of doom and gloom. December 21st is the day many are talking about, the day that the ancient Mayan Calendar runs out. This event has caught the imagination of many. Online debate is raging: is the end nigh or is the world destined for a spiritual awakening? In Mexico City countdown clocks are being erected and some are living like this year could be their last.
As followers of Jesus, how can we live in a world affected by natural disasters, political and financial turmoil, and apocalyptic predictions? Well, first and foremost we can take heart, because this isn’t the whole picture. God is on the move…
Right now Austria and the UK are getting ready to host the 2012 Olympics but preparations aren’t limited to advertising, ticket selling and training. Spearheaded by 24-7 Prayer and Alpha, the Church in the UK and Ireland are seizing the opportunity to saturate the year in mission and prayer. Potentially thousands are giving themselves to praying ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’ through 2012. As communities pass the baton from one 24-7 Prayer Room to the next, someone, somewhere will be crying out to our Father in every minute of the year. What will God do with so many prayers!? Time and again we’ve learned that God’s presence cannot be contained. He moves in response to our pleas and makes His presence felt in our communities. As the nations gather to compete and the church unites to pray, share Jesus and welcome the world, what do the Father, Son and Spirit have in store?
“…If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19
This little pocket of Europe isn’t the only place being drenched in prayer. As the clock struck midnight and 2011 became 2012, two other nations launched into a year-long marathon of intercession…
In South Africa & Malaysia, national prayer networks, Alpha ministries as well as the local Church are responding to God’s call to pray through the year. In Malaysia it seems particularly urgent as 2012 ushers in the 50 year Jubilee from the birth of the nation and an important general election. Our Malaysian brothers and sisters are crying out for justice to prevail and the World Council of Churches, who made Malaysia their prayer focus in 2012, is joining them.
"You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples." Psalm 77:13-14
When God’s people pray, He responds. Throughout history God has used the prayers of His people to bring justice, and to revive and renew the church. As we spend time making space for Him and calling in His Kingdom how will God break into 2012?
“You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14
As some of us live through the challenges I began with, and others enjoy relative peace, together we have the opportunity to join the swell of God’s tide and surf the wave of prayer-fuelled mission in 2012. Jesus, fill us with your Spirit and make us shine with your light and hope in a year of uncertainty. This year let’s live like it could be our last, not because we’re in the grip of fear or dire prediction, but because we have a Saviour worth all we can give and the love of God is bursting into our nations.