The month of January is about to finish. It gets its name from the Roman god Janus. He was the spirit of doorways and archways and possibly first of all was the god of beginnings. All first days, of weeks, months, years and agricultural seasons, were sacred to him. It makes sense, therefore, that the month of January is named after him. He is shown as a double-faced head, facing two ways at once.
At the beginning of the year, we too met here in the Cathedral and faced two ways at once. We used the ancient practice of the ‘examen’ to review the year past. We then turned to face the new year by dedicating ourselves to God’s service in the words of the Methodist Covenant Prayer.
I wonder if you noticed that the introduction to today’s service also has us looking in two directions:
“Today we celebrate both the joy of his coming and his searching judgement, looking back to the day of his birth and forward to the coming days of his passion.”
“Looking back to the day of his birth”: we look back to Christmas as we come to the end of the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany. The stable, which has graced the Peace Garden in this season, disappears for another year. The angels, shepherds and wise men fade into the background.
“Looking … forward to the coming days of his passion”: Lent will soon be upon us, beginning on 10 February which is Ash Wednesday, followed by Holy Week and Easter. So soon after celebrating the wonderful story of a miraculous birth, we have to turn our attention to the suffering of the adult Jesus. It all seems to rush in too quickly. Continue reading