The month of January takes it's name from the Roman god Janus, that two-faced god who looked both backwards into the past and forward into the future. Although I'm not a follower of Roman gods (I'm a Christian, thank you very much), on a day like this this image seems appropriate. If you're like me, you're looking forward to the new year. The turn of the calendar seems to offer the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start in life. I am a great believer in Paul's message of new beginnings, a vision that is summed up nicely in these words: "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The message is clear to me -- there is no need to be a prisoner of one's past. There is the possibility of something new happening.
So, I look forward to 2013. I don't know exactly how things will work out in the new year. We can make plans, but plans have a way of changing. I do know that I'm going to continue as pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church and as convener of the Troy-area Interfaith Group. The Metro Coalition of Congregations will celebrate its founding convention on February 24th. I'll be participating in the Disciples of Christ General Assembly, and oh yes, I'll be taking a sabbatical in the fall. But even with these predictable elements, 2013 will, I expect be full of opportunities and surprises. I go forward into the future with confidence, however, because I know that I walk in the Spirit.
But, 2013 isn't yet upon us. There are still a few hours left to go. At this moment, the United States seems to be sitting on the edge of a "Fiscal Cliff," with little evidence that a resolution is in order (likely we'll go over the cliff and then put things back together next week). But, the Fiscal Cliff isn't the only thing on the list of happenings in 2012. Of course, we re-elected Barack Obama as President, even as we saw billions spent on political ads (mostly negative). But we also saw evidence that America's ethnic makeup is broadening. Barack Obama won re-election without gaining a majority of white votes -- the first time ever. This reality has put immigration reform on the front burner (and that's a good thing). 2012 also brought back to our attention the issue of climate change, after a horrendous drought hit much of America during the summer and then Sandy wreaked havoc on the Mid-Atlantic States. Maybe people will start to believe the warnings of the scientists. And then we had that horrific and tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of twenty first graders, along with several teachers and staff members. In 2013 we will once again have a conversation about the prevalence of guns in American society. There was, of course, good news in 2012, like the fact that my San Francisco Giants won the World Series for the second time in three years (and the Dodgers continue to be shut out of the big game), but the tragedies of 2012 suggest that we might be well served jumping forward into a new year.
I'm looking forward to 2013. I'm looking forward to seeing where God will lead me. I pray that 2013 will be a year of blessing. May we live into this new year with a sense of hope, a hope that leads to action, so that the common good might be served.
May we heed these words of the Psalmist in 2013:
Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 117 NRSV)