January is named for the Roman god Janus, the god with two faces; one that faces forward looking to the future; one that faces back, full of memory of the past. January is a time to choose which way we live our lives; looking back, regretting what’s gone; or looking forward toward the new things, the new opportunities in our lives every day. Janus challenges us: forward or back; hold on or let go; safety or adventure. It’s a good thing Janus is a Roman god, because we know there is often no need to choose; there is often a third way.
In the Bible the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob calls us to remember when he moved to help in impossible times. He reminds us to remember his promises and look for them to be fulfilled. But he also calls us in Jesus to look forward toward a time when blessing will be available to all, and calls us to move however we can toward that time. As the prayer at President Obama’s inauguration reminds us, the prophet Micah tells us how: “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.”
January: hang on to what is precious from the past, but be open to what is promised in the future. What opportunity opens before me today?
Then January slides into February. The shortest month of the year, thank heavens, as some people say it’s the toughest, meanest month of the year. And yet, February celebrates Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day. February is full of celebration. I remember when Lincoln’s birthday was February 16 and Washington’s was February 22, but now they’re melded together. It would seem that in our fallible human wisdom we took a tough month and eased through it by proclaiming celebrations.
The days promise to be longer in February, but often they’re dreary with cold and gray skies. We begin to sigh and look forward to spring. February is a waiting time, and an expectant time, if we will let it be. Why doesn’t February go by as quickly as January we wonder? How shall we get through these cranky days?
Well, to begin with, we set days aside for celebration; and in the Bible, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us: Do not forget to do good and to share with others; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. We are reminded to look for the opportunity that is opening before us each day.
It’s good to be assured that after January comes February, and after February, March. We count on the progress of the year; we can’t even imagine what it would be like if February stayed around forever! But we know it won’t because the year moves ahead, day by day, month by month. We know it in our bones; we are so sure that we don’t often think about it.
But the Bible tells us that the progression of the year is a planned thing. In the very first book we read God’s promise: As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.
So there it is! We are invited to look back upon a solid promise which gives order to our lives as we live them, and invited to look forward to that order continuing, based upon a promise.
I invite you to attend a place of worship this week, to hear some of the centuries-old words and stories, and to hear how each one of us can apply them to today’s living and into our future.
Blessings to you all in 2013.
Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey is pastor of Halifax Union Society.