2009 was a historic year in some ways. It had several bright spots, some tragedies, and a degree of sadness. That's probably par for the course. It's hard to sit down and quickly knock off a list of events that were important. Each of our lives are different, and so while there have been important national events or world events, there have also been personal ones.
As I think back over the past year, I have to believe that the inauguration of Barack Obama stands at the top of the list. Oh, I know he hasn't fulfilled all his promises nor has he become FDR reincarnated. He's not the savior either -- to quote an old song from the 70's, "He's just a man." But, his inauguration changed the future of this country. That he is a person of color, with a name that sounds "Muslim," changes the game. Never again will we assume that one must be white to be elected President. Hillary Clinton may not have won the nomination in 2008, but here close finish suggests that before too long another glass ceiling will be broken.
Over the course of the year we saw a couple of icons die -- Ted Kennedy in politics (what would the Health Care Reform Bill look like if he was there to lead the fight?) Then there was the death of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett with in days of each other.
We observed the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin (on the same day we observed Abraham Lincoln's 200th) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species.
Economy wise, 2009 wasn't a great year, but there were/are glimmers of hope. We're not where we were a year ago, when the economy was in free fall, banks were failing left and right, the American Auto Industry was about to go under, and the Dow was heading south. A year later, unemployment is still high, but seems to have stabilized for the moment. The Dow is up considerably. Banks have stabilized, and there is hope for the US auto industry -- especially at Ford. It's not perfect, and we're not out of the woods, but there is at least hope that 2010 will be better than 2009.
While the product at this point hasn't passed all the hurdles, and it's not quite the product that many of us hoped to see, real steps have been made toward a historic passage of significant health care reform. It may only be the starting point, but it gets us off the ground.
Closer to home, I see good things happening in my congregation. We called a minister of music who has been a strong partner in ministry. Ask any pastor about the importance of having someone whom you can trust and work with closely in this position, and they will tell you it makes a major difference. We bought an organ that will be delivered shortly. We're growing, slowly, but again the shoots are there. We laid out core values to guide us. 2009 was sort of a season of reflection, consolidation, stabilization, and experimentation. My expectation is that in 2010, we will build upon what we laid out in 2009.
Oh, and I read some good books!
2009 had its bright spots, but I'm looking forward to 2010 -- the last year of the first decade of the 21st Century. Yes, I'm a contrarian -- I believe a decade and a century starts with a 1. But, I won't be too obstinate if you want to see things differently.
As I close I invite you, my reader, to offer your thoughts. What stands out in your mind in the year 2009?