Sit down, kids. I have something to talk to you about. I know that you are hearing some frightening things about the Mayans and the year 2012 and the end of the world. A couple of you are really scared. Relax. You have nothing to worry about. How do I know? Let me tell you a few things.
First, the most obvious: The Mayan world ended a lot sooner than they themselves thought it would. Look around. No more Mayans. They've been gone since the 1600s, so looking to them for a prediction of the end of all things is pretty pointless. Do not be afraid.
Second, I want you to know that I know how you feel. I was your age once, and I was scared about the end of the world. At school, and especially at church. Thankfully now, we don't go to a church where they scare kids into believing in God. If anyone ever tries that with you, be sure to tell me about it, and I will put a stop to that. Do not be afraid.
Third, I want you to know that predicting the end of the world is nothing new. People have been doing it basically since the beginning of the world. People are doing it today. People will continue to do it tomorrow. Don't believe me? Take a look at this list...
In the year 90, Saint Clement 1 said the world would end any minute.
In the year 365, a man called Hilary said the world would end that year.
Saint Martin of Tours was sure the world would end by the year 400.
When the year 500 rolled around, a nice even number, lots of people thought the world was doomed.
In 992, Good Friday happened at the same time as the Feast of the Annunciation. Lots of people thought this would somehow give rise to the Antichrist and usher in the last days. Apparently it didn't.
1000 was a another big year for the end of the world predictors. It's a pattern around all these big round numbers, but let me explain something to you. The "world" doesn't know what year we say it is. As a matter of fact, the "world" doesn't even know what numbers are. The "world" doesn't even have a brain, so it's dumb to say it "knows" anything. Be careful when someone tries to tell you it does. They are trying to scare you. And God is not in the scaring business. He loves you. He is perfect love. Perfect love repels fear. Do not be afraid.
In 1005-1006, a horrible famine hit Europe, and everyone though the world was coming to an end. Funny, Europe is only a small part of the "world." We know that now. Not so much back then.
1033 rolled around, and since Jesus supposedly died and rose again exactly in the year 33, someone got their calculator out and did this: 33 + 1000 (big scary even number) = 1033.
In 1147, Gerard of Poehlde did some math and smoked some incense and decided the end of the world would be in 1306.
In 1179, John of Toledo (not Ohio), figured that since some planets would line up just right in 1186, the world would end then.
Pope Clement knew math too. He added the year of the founding of Islam to the "devil number" 666, and got 1284.
In the 1300s, Christians in Europe decided that cats were shape-shifted witches helpers and they were afraid, so they killed every one they could. With fewer cats, rats took over, and the rats had fleas that carried a horrible disease called the Bubonic Plague. No one predicted this would happen, but they were happy to assume that the end was near (even if they might have helped cause it). Do not be afraid of cats.
1496, 1500, 1524, 1533, and 1669 all came and went without incident (not counting the 20,000 Russian believers who were so scared the Antichrist would come in 1669 that they BURNED themselves to DEATH.) Fear is a powerful thing, unless you simply ignore it. Do not be afraid and set yourself on fire.
A Baptist preacher named Benjamin Keach predicted the world would end in 1689. Did it?
Some of the Shakers though the end would be in 1792.
Charles Wesley thought "Doomsday" would come in 1794.
Joseph Smith, the inventor of Mormonism, thought Jesus would come back when he was 85 years old. Too bad he got totally assassinated almost 50 years before that happened.
William Miller said that Jesus would come back on March 21, 1843, and a lot of people believed him until March 22. So he changed the date to October 22, 1844 and lots of people sold everything they had thinking they wouldn't need it. Didn't help. I wish I could have gone to those garage sales.
Ellen White said it would probably happen in 1850, then changed the story a few more times, trying to get it right. It didn't happen.
The Watchtower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses" probably holds the record for predicting the end of days the most times. 1914, oops - 1915, wait - 1918, hang on - 1920, okay 1925 for sure, one sec - 1941, I mean 1975. Would you believe 1994? Never mind.
Here are a few more guesses: Albert Porta - 1919, Herbert W Armstrong - 1936, then changed it to 1975, Leonard Sale-Harrison - 1940 or 41, David Davidson - August 1953, Mihran Ask - 1957, Florence Houteff - April 22, 1959 (her group survived until the FBI raided them in Waco, Texas and they all burned to death on April 29, 1993. That was a sad story. Little kids like you died that day because of the fear of their parents. I cried.) Again, do not be afraid and set yourself on fire.
More: Piazzi Smith - 1960, Moses David - 1973 (by a comet - that would have been cool for a few minutes!), Chuck Smith - 1981, Leland Jensen - 1980, Pat Robertson - 1982, Moses David (again) - 1986, Hal Lindsey - 1988 (he's still selling books to scared people), Edgar Whisenant wrote a book called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture will Occur in 1988", and Trinity Broadcasting Network (that Christian TV station that Daddy doesn't let you watch) interrupted their programming to get people ready for the Rapture. When it didn't happen, Whisenant wrote books about 1989, 1993, and 1994. He doesn't sell many books anymore.
Daddy got his job in 1998 because lots of people were sure that the world's computers were going to meltdown at midnight December 31, 1999 and lead to lots of nasty consequences - maybe even the end of the world. That didn't happen. You're welcome.
So now, it's 2009, and I've got a pretty good bet for you: The world is probably NOT going to end in 2012. As a matter of fact, I am counting on way more than just 3 years left to spend with you guys, watch you grow, play with you, scold you, be proud of you, and remind you not to be afraid in 2033, which is 33 + 2000. I love you, and if there is anything I want you to remember about what I have told you today, it's this:
Do not be afraid.