Countdown about Year of Our Lord
Portman, William, Anglican Journal
Sunday, April 6, is exactly 1,000 days before January 1, AD 2000 -- the year of millennium. The countdown begins.
It hinges on an event so significant that it actually changed how the world counts time: that God became Man in Palestine; died, rose, and lives today.
Unfortunately, it also brings out the religious extremes with their loony prophecies, and much commercial hype. It is hard to say which is more off-putting, but this aspect may help explain a seeming lack of interest in things millennial among mainstream North American churches.
Of course some mathematical diehards claim that the new millennium doesn't really start until 2001, but that won't stop any of us celebrating when the calendar turns to show not only zeros but a new first digit. And we have heard about computers having to be re-programmed for the year 2000, not 2001.
Other scholars suggest that we can't really be all that accurate in pinning down the day and year Jesus was born, so we could be observing the millennium as much as four years early or three years late.
The year 2000 points before all else to the historic fact of Jesus the Christ. It also confronts the world with the present fact of more than two billion people on every continent for whom Jesus is the way, the truth and the life -- and who are committed to enlist others to follow that way.
Christians not only have something to celebrate but a message to communicate, one that tells the world to look beyond a rip-roaring New Year-New Century-New Millennium bash.
In North America, preparing for millennium observances appears to be a low priority among mainstream Christian groups except for the Roman Catholics, who are being prodded by Pope John Paul II. In England, the ecumenical group, Churches Together, launches a three-year countdown April 6 -- even though a government bureaucrat called it "an interesting point of view" when churches asked for a say in millennium planning.
It appears that mainstream Christians on this side of the Atlantic are now realizing that the millennium is too important to let it be hijacked by apocalyptic cultism or commercial greed. …