Why call the year 2000 the "third millennium"? The reason is Jesus Christ. ... When Christians associate the initials "A.D." with the years of the calendar, we are actually making a great statement of faith. ... The use of the initials sums up all that was accomplished and continues because of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
The end of the millennium continues to spawn all kinds of wild prophecies about the end of the world. Many people, Christians included, often imagine "the end of the world" in terms of the second coming of our Lord. Then people connect certain dire events in world history with some of our Lord's words in the New Testament, and they come to the conclusion that the world is about to go up in flames.
Our Lord came to beat back the works of evil and establish a new order, a new time, a time of God's reign of peace. His return, therefore, will not mean fearsome catastrophe but rather blessed completion; it will mean the end of the old time of sin and suffering and the beginning of the new when God shall wipe away tears from every eye and death shall be no more (Revelation 21:4).
With eyes turned heavenward but with feet firmly set on this earth, it's only natural for us to seek to discern the shape of God's mission in the year 2000 and beyond. The times in which we live have become increasingly secular. Even where spirituality flourishes, many spiritual seekers have little interest in the church as an organization. The future mission could well be a mission from the margins — from the fringes of our society and the edge of the public's consciousness. Yet neither our place, our power, nor our popularity really matter when it comes to God's mission. ... Our task is to be obedient to the vision we have seen in the coming of God's reign among us in Christ.
— Excerpts from the bishops' pastoral letter on the millennium.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers