Did you know that January is named after the Roman god Janus, the guardian of doors and gates. The month of January opens the gate to the New Year and closes the gate to the past year. The Romans gave two faces to this false god because a gate or door has two sides. The doors of the temple of Janus were shut in the time of peace and open in the time of war. As you may guess, while Rome was in power, those doors were very rarely closed.

Jesus was born while Rome ruled the world. He was not a fierce warrior, but he came as the Prince of Peace to give his people true peace. He associated himself with a gate. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9). Every year opens and every year closes with Jesus in control of the universe. For believers, every year means another year in his grace knowing he has saved us and we can enter eternity by believing in him.

We do well to commit ourselves to Jesus as January 1 opens the door to the New Year. Time passes, centuries come and go, years fly by, rulers die, idols like Janus are forgotten, but Jesus lives forever. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 12:8).

As this year begins and we again set high hopes for our lives, we must ask ourselves, “Am I for Janus or Jesus? If we live for the things of this world, we are for Janus. If we seek do delve into idolatry, materialism, and sensual pleasures, we are for Janus. If we enjoy personal aggression towards others in words and actions, we are for Janus.

But if we put the true God above all else, we are for Jesus. When we wake up every morning knowing we are forgiven and reconciled with God through the death of His Son, we are for Jesus. God promises that when we “seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, all these things will be given to us as well” (Matthew 6:33). He will fulfill all of our godly desires and bless all of our godly plans according to His will.

When we seek his kingdom first, we have chosen well because Jesus is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He is the only way to the Father, the only way to living a God-pleasing life, the only door to eternal life. May God guard and keep you and your family this year and always.

We also ask the Lord’s blessing on our St. John family of faith in the coming year as well. May he richly bless the preaching, teaching, and proclaiming of his Word and the faithful use of his sacraments – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We trust that he will guide and bless our church and school as we plan for future ministry. As our vision statement says, he is our spiritual GPS who leads us in the right direction as we Grow in God’s Word, Prepare his people for lives of service, and Share the saving message of Jesus with everyone. To God be the glory as we move forward into 2019!

Serving you in Christ’s love,
Pastor Peter Sulzle