Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

The centerpiece of time


God, it seems you’ve been our home forever; long before the mountains were born, long before you brought earth itself to birth, from "once upon a time" to "kingdom come" — you are God.

You’ve got all the time in the world — whether a thousand years or a day, it’s all the same to you. (Psalm 90:1-2,4; The Message)


As you replace your 2014 calendars with new ones for 2015, let me pass on a few thoughts about a related subject, seldom discussed.

The days and months stretch before us — for many people, nothing more than empty calendar spaces to be filled in with tasks to do and upcoming events to remember.

Have you ever stopped to think that our Christian calendar is the one most commonly used throughout the world?

That calendar would not exist if there hadn’t been a man named Jesus Christ. Jesus is the hinge of history and the centerpiece of time simply because the modern record of our human existence has been dated according to the time of Jesus’ birth!

When I was in elementary school, it took me a bit longer than most to understand the concept of "B.C." and "A.D." But with the help of Mrs. Wells, my fourth-grade teacher, tugging my ear each time I got that wrong, I finally understood that what happened in all time before the earthly appearance of Jesus was designated B.C., Before Christ.

And although I’ve always wanted to believe that A.D. means "after his death," I came to understand that it means Anno Domini, a medieval Latin translation for "In the year of our Lord."

(Thank you very much, Mrs. Wells, for making my left ear a little longer than my right one!)

Now I know of other calendar systems, ancient and current, among them the contemporary initiative to use "B.C.E." and "C.E." Yet their use remains limited. The Associated Press Stylebook abides by A.D. and B.C.

With all that being said, do you realize the significance of such wide use of A.D. and B.C.?

Every person — whether Christian or atheist, agnostic, even a follower of another religion— unwittingly testifies that Jesus Christ is known to all in the person’s simple act of making out a check, dating a letter, or updating a blog.

Every newspaper or magazine you pick up announces in the cover date and on each page that we are "in the year of our Lord"!

No other person in all of history has carved his name so deeply into human existence as has this man Jesus. Your life is part of that witness because the date of your birth is a timely link to his birth.

The name of Jesus is written across time itself, and we are living in his time.

Yes, Jesus was a Jewish peasant born in some obscure province half a world away, in a far-off age. He never wrote a book nor made great discoveries; he invented no philosophy and built no grand structures. He died at age 33, and you and I would conclude that he hadn’t reached the prime of his life. Even his closest friends deserted him when he was nailed to that Roman cross.

And yet, he is the pivot of history.

We are transitioning into a new year. Each one of us has a B.C. and an A.D. period in our lives. Can you remember a time in your life when you didn’t know who Christ was or when you failed to acknowledge him as Lord of your life?

Well, that was your B.C. era!

Isaiah 9:2 speaks of those who "walked in darkness" in that ancient time. Unfortunately, there are people today walking in darkness, wandering without hope, lost in their days.

The B.C. people of this world will change the calendars on their walls and in their cellphones, but, for most of them, nothing else will change.

As you transition into this new year, change more than your calendar. Make your heart a humble manger where Christ enters anew, takes up residence, and begins his personal ministry within you. Welcome the A.D. period of your life; it has the potential to make all the difference to you and to those you encounter every calendar day.

Years ago I visited the fabulous Rockefeller Center in New York City. I will never forget the series of murals at its entrance; they depicted the march of civilization across time. The first fresco showed humans working by painfully using only their hands, living precariously but determined to survive. The second painting showed people as the makers of tools and other useful inventions. A third mural portrayed humans as masters of machines we have created that harness the forces of the material world.

The final mural, however, was not what I expected. It did not picture our leap into outer space or major advancements in technology.

Rather, the final mural showed Jesus Christ preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Underneath the scene were these words: "Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on whether he can learn new lessons or make new discoveries and conquests, but on his acceptance of the lesson taught him close upon 2,000 years ago."

Welcome to A.D. 2015!

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Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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