"The Hobbits named it the Shire, as the region of the authority of their Thain, and a district of well-ordered business; and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule of Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk."
(from the prologue to The Lord of the Rings, cited by Tim Keller preaching on Jonah 2)
And then they go thrust out of their comfortable world into a big tall world that didn't fit what they were used to living with.
We get used to the world we live in and to having enough grace and spiritual life to live in it. But, we have no guarentee that the world should stay the same - and even less that "peace and plenty" should be the rule and "right of all sensible folk". A 31-weeks pregnant wife is fairly good indication that 2009 is going to be very different to 2008 on the most local of levels for me. Beyond that there are changes in prices and jobs and situations for many people, Christian students will return to University to be invited into a new world in which they open up Mark's gospel with those who aren't Christians yet.... some will begin the year opposed to Christ and end it loving him. Only God knows what the new year holds, and only he can supply the grace to sustain us through it.