Pastor Paul Marggraf, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Delano
Have you ever heard of “January Christians?”
Most of you have probably heard of “Christmas and Easter Christians” the people who only show up in church on Christmas and Easter to get their once-a-year dose of spirituality. But what are “January Christians?”
In order to understand what “January Christians” are, you have to understand where the word “January” comes from. January is the month in which the ancient Romans honored the god Janus, who presided over the doors and gates of buildings, and over beginnings and endings.
Janus was often pictured by ancient Roman artists as a god with two faces, one face looking in one direction and the other face looking in the opposite direction. Since the first month of the year was the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one, the ancient Romans dedicated it to the two-faced god, Janus, and gave the month the name “Januarius” or “January.”
A “January Christian,” then, is one who approaches the new year with two faces one that looks back at the old year that has come to a close, and one that looks forward to the year ahead. A faithful Christian can neither forget the past, nor ignore the future.
As we begin another new year, we ask our God to help us be “January Christians,” with one face looking back at all the wonderful things that our Savior God has done for us in 2006. Sure, there were the material blessings, but far more important were the spiritual blessings that we received from his hand.
We were given a year of grace we had many, many opportunities to grow in our Christian faith through the use of his Word and sacraments. We must confess that we probably did not always make good use of those opportunities, and we ask God to forgive us for Jesus’ sake for any indifference toward his Word that we may have displayed.
When we look back, we see how faithful God has been to us, even when we were not faithful to him. We look back with praise and thanksgiving for his mercy and forgiveness.
We also enter 2007 with one face that looks forward. We look forward, first of all, to knowing our God better through regular worship attendance, and congregational and personal Bible study.
We look forward to God’s help in all the trials and difficulties that lie ahead of us, confessing the truth of the hymn, “Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”
We look forward to many opportunities to serve the Lord and his people through the gifts, talents, and treasures God has given each of us.
And above all, we look forward to being with the Lord. We look forward to that hope of heaven that is ours through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
No one likes to be called “two-faced,” but as we enter this new year, we pray that God will make us “two-faced” Christians on the one hand, looking back to all the blessings and protection that God has given us; and on the other hand, looking forward to the opportunities to know our God better, serve him better, and finally, be with him in heaven.
May God help us all be “January Christians!”
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.