Pam Kramer: As Pastor Justin and I write this, it isn’t the new year yet, but we are considering what 2022 will mean for all of us. Of course, it means remembering to write 2022 when we are dating something! Personally, I never saw what the excitement of New Year’s Eve and Day was all about. Yes, there may be wild parties or small family gatherings, but the next morning, the new year is not much different from the previous day. (Sure, we make mundane resolutions to change our behavior, lose weight, eat better, and soon they are forgotten or lost.) But the sun still rises, the earth still rotates, and people are left to face the same problems and challenges, just as they were the day before. So why is January 1 a magical date on our calendars? Let’s think about it a bit and use it as a date for self-analysis, introspection, or to get technical, “metacognition.” Simply put, perhaps the new year is a time to reflect on what we have done and learn what we have to do differently to be successful and happy. It’s more about giving and changing than giving up. Just a thought. My first question for you, Pastor Justin, is what is the theological basis for January 1 being the Christian New Year as different from the Jewish one, or Islamic one? My second question is how do we, as Trinity, use the concept of “new year” to move forward?

Pastor Justin: Interesting questions, Pam. In the Protestant Church, we consider the first Sunday in Advent as the Church’s new year…not sexy at all. Theologically this makes sense, as the season of Advent tells the story pre-birth of Jesus, into Christmas with the birth, and then on to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Today, most of the world follows the Gregorian Calendar – named after Pope Gregory XIII who revised the Julian Calendar in 1582 (in the Julian Calendar it is 2775). January 1 wasn’t actually the start of the New Year…there has been some back and forth. The Roman King Numa Pompilius chose January to be the start of a new year, rather than March, partly because January is named after the Roman god Janus, god of all Beginnings. (This makes sense…March is named after the Roman god Mars, the god of war).

Okay, so there’s King Numa – with a small sprinkling of Julius Caesar – and there is Pope Gregory XIII who revised the Julian Calendar in 1582, BUT the Protestants along with the Orthodox just had to go and rebel a little bit. That’s right, we Lutherans have a LOOOONNNNGGGGG history of rebellion. We did not accept the Pope’s revision to the Julian calendar. Britain and the American Colonies celebrated the New Year on March 25 up until 1752! That’s right, for 170 years the Brits and the Colonies were celebrating the New Year on March 25 while everyone else was partying it up on January 1.

On to the next one…how does Trinity use the concept of “new year” to move forward? Let’s revisit King Numa Pompilius. He wanted the new year to be in the month named after the god of all beginnings. This was a god that had two heads, one that could see the past and one that could see the future. (continued on page 2) (continued from page 1) Trinity will most certainly examine our past, take stock of the abundance of resources we have and all the many things we have done, learn from what didn’t work, and then with excitement look into our future. We harness the rebellious spirit of our forebearers, and we enter the uncharted waters of this new year together. As Lutherans we are a Re-Forming church. God is a Re-Forming God. That means God, and we, are about the business of creating. We, by virtue of our baptism, God’s grace, and love are Created Co-Creators. God gives us everything we need, right now, to do something new. Trinity, we have everything we need to continue to do abundant ministry. To reflect the radical love of Christ. When we show up, however that looks for each of us, God uses THAT.

So, I don’t know…I tend to shy away from New Year resolutions…maybe as we kick off this New Year 2022, let me encourage you to Show Up. Or maybe even better yet…God is going to use you in whatever way you do Show Up. It’s a new year, happy or not, and God is going to do some pretty wonderful things through you.

Pastor Justin and Pam Kramer

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