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The month of January is named after Janus the Roman god of doorways and gates, beginnings, and endings, making him the perfect deity to herald in the New Year. Janus was famous for his ability to turn one face to reflect upon the past and yet another face freshly pointed upon the future. This is so appropriate. January marks the new year for most of us humans. Janus is two-faced not because he gossiped about the other gods behind their backs, but because he calls us to look back on the past with reflection and forward with hope.

As we look back on 2020 we could say it was an “annus horribilis” dominated by Covid-19 and all sorts of disruptions in our everyday, church and family lives. Our “new normal” might seem “abnormal” to us as the disease and all the restrictions around it made 2020 a difficult year. However, also let’s remember in prayer all the friends, family and our church fellowship who have shared the last year with us and helped us to go through it reasonably well.

And with Janus’ second face, giving Christian meaning to the originally pagan symbolism, let’s turn our heads forward seeing hope and new opportunities in the future. Let’s draw from the knowledge and the experience we gained from last year concerning what really matters in life and in what areas we should live differently and resolve to live each day fully and well to the glory of God.

The images of Janus are strange and evocative; they seem to combine time and place with an uncomfortable intimacy. We tend to think of the present moment as the most real experience: the past and the future are unknowable or distant. Yet, they are not. Our actions in the past are linked to our hopes in the future. As we turn our head – with Janus’ second face – forward we see lots of opportunities in not only a different year but in a different us too. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!“ 2 Corinthians 5:17 Our resolve is that we will be kinder, more caring and loving, and more faithful than before.

In ancient Rome, the gates of Janus' temple were only closed in times of peace — which didn't happen often. I hope they get closed for us now, symbolically, as it is our wish to have a peaceful year in the world and in our circles. Instead in the new year may we be able to open the doors of the church of the Living God – (lack of) Corona virus permitting -, our Heavenly Father in Jesus Christ. Our Church.

Happy New Year! Yours in Christ, John