January is named after the Roman god Janus. Legend has it that the god Saturn gave Janus the ability to see into the future and past. Janus is usually depicted with having two heads that face in opposite directions. One looks back to the year departed, and one looks forward to the new and uncertain year ahead.
If I were asked to pick which month is most often associated with deep reflection, I would choose January. Known for recaps and resolutions, the New Year starts in retrospect as we think about past regrets and celebrate successes, then moves forward with hopes for the year ahead!
January is the beginning of a brand-new year. Some people like to make New Year’s resolutions or promises to themselves about what they plan to accomplish in the New Year. Even if you don’t make any New Year’s resolutions, this is an exciting time. It is a time that we can forget our past mistakes and look forward to new opportunities that lie ahead of us. It is a time of new beginnings.
Resolutions are good for the future, but don’t, however, deal with the wounds of the past. The New Year is a good opportunity to ask God for healing in these areas too.
Jesus is very much a ‘new year’ person. So many of the things he said are about turning what is damaged or incomplete into something new and hopeful. He talked of helping blind people to see, setting free captives, turning enemies into friends, bandaging wounds to heal them.
Jesus experienced times of new beginnings in his life too. There were a couple of very important things that happened when Jesus was baptized. First, the Bible tells us that the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and landed upon him. The second thing was that God spoke and said, “You are my Son. I love you and I am well-pleased with you.”
These events marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry here on earth.
The Bible records many encouraging examples of people who were able to start again after encountering Jesus. These include a woman caught in adultery who was facing execution by an outraged community, a hated tax collector named Zacchaeus who had been collaborating with the enemy, and Peter, the close friend of Jesus who publicly disowned him.
This is an encouragement and a source of hope. Jesus is saying that he can help you and me bring healing to the wounds in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We simply need to take the first steps. The New Year seems to me like a good time to do so.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
At the beginning of this New Year it may be a time for us to think of new beginnings, a time for new resolutions. But the truth is that with God anytime is a time for a new beginning.
Happy New Year!