The New Year is marked by great celebration and a release of pent-up energy which comes with the prospect of a fresh start. This first of the months of the year takes its name from Janus, a Roman god who is depicted as having two faces—each facing in opposite directions. In mythological terms this makes sense, for at the onset of a new year, we look both back to what has been and forward to what the future holds.
The year 2015 was marked by violence at home and throughout the world. It was also a time when people were awestruck by the forces of nature—droughts, floods, massive storms, and other indicators that we had upset the balance of the climate and still do not know how to adapt to those changes. Looking back on the year past is certainly sobering, but perhaps it was a wake-up call and an opportunity for us to learn some lessons.
Looking forward to 2016, we should not be disheartened. The disruption in climate which triggered droughts and severe weather may be part of a global situation, but scientists are at work to analyze the changes in climate and their impact; if humans have created these changes, perhaps concerted human efforts can help adjust to the new patterns. Medical science may also combat such scourges as ebola.
The past year was a time when the ugly reality of racism, which many had wished to ignore, was thrust into our faces by repeated examples of violence and death. But I also firmly believe that the strength of our country lies in its ability to grow and adapt to become a more just and compassionate society. If people of faith are willing to hear the cries of those in need and see the root causes of violence and injustice which has cost us so much in human suffering and wounded spirits, surely God will lead us to find a new course and to free us all from the fear and hatred which are the root causes of our national problems. There is much work to be done, by education concerning how institutions thrive by racial discrimination and how few of us understand the power of White privilege which has made us complacent. I pray that 2016 will prove a prophetic year, when the truth—painful as it will be to face it—will begin to set us all free from this sin we dare not name.
Let us learn from the experience of the past, that we might renew our efforts and determination to mold our confusion into vision, and to turn from the cycle of hatred, fear, and contempt to work for the justice needed to create a society where all can share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon us. Our past troubles need not become our destiny; rather, by faithfulness and loving hearts, let us make this New Year a Jubilee and a time of rebirth.