The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus has two faces, one looking back, and one looking forward. As a new year begins, part of the process is looking back to take stock of what happened during the previous twelve months. We think of the people we've met, the people we've bid good-bye to, the new opportunities that came our way, and perhaps the challenges we faced. Each year brings with it both good and bad. This past year seems to have had more bad than good. We saw mass shootings and terror attacks around the world. Our political system seems under duress, with a President who has challenged most norms of decency. In other words, 2017 has been a season of lamentation We cry out with the Psalmist: "Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me" (Psalm 31:2).
Here we stand at the beginning of a new year, the year 2018. In the words of a Brian Wren hymn:
This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on,
time to believe what live is bringing, laying to rest the pain that gone.
As a follower of Jesus, I take comfort and encouragement in this word from Paul: "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old is gone, and everything becomes new. It is an eschatological message. We don't know what this coming year holds for you. In many ways the slate is wiped clean. We are invited to write upon it, creating new realities.
This will be a momentous year for me and my family. I will complete ten years as pastor at Central Woodward. Cheryl and I will celebrate thirty-five years of marriage. I will turn sixty. Brett will head off to Claremont for graduate school, finally emptying the nest. Nationally and locally there will be important elections. I have a friend who is making her initial political venture, running for State Representative. Padma is Hindu, a woman, and an immigrant. She doesn't look like the "traditional" American politician. That's a good thing. There will be other elections of note. We have the opportunity, here in the United States, to make a difference. One way of doing this is to vote, and do so with intention and responsibly.
2018 will be an eventful year. We will meet new people, make new friends, and say goodbye to others. We don't know how the year will progress, for even those elements that we thank are set in stone can change. So, yes: "This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on, time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that's gone." For:
In faith we gather round the table to taste and share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new.