The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted.
Since most people pursued agricultural vocations in those days it made perfect sense to tie your calendar to the planting season. This way you could easily collect your taxes after a successful harvest in the fall. Since many people had to depend on selling of their crops or livestock to pay their taxes- starting in the March made a great deal of sense.
Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. The month was named after Janus the two headed God. The symbolism here was that Janus could look back at the previous year and forward to the next year.
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. In the Maronite Catholic Church we have 1 Saturday The Circumcision of Our Lord and on 2 January Sunday The Finding of Our Lord In The Temple.
Now with a small wander to find out more information about the history of the concept of New Years let us update this conversation to 2022. Well, before that I would like to go back about six years ago, when a student of mine told me that they did not believe that they had to go to Church. Here, I would like to combine all of these ideas into one New Year’s Resolution- Attend Church on a weekly basis this year.
The student didn’t realize how much I had thought about their comments. “Do I need to come to Church?” “Can’t I do everything from home?” Now since COVID and the streaming of most Church services it has become very easy for people to stay at home, stay in their pj’s and watch Church. What is wrong with that?
To answer that question let me address several questions to you, the reader.
Suppose you were going to need an operation, would you go to the hospital and have it done, or would you just watch it on TV and that would be the same, correct?
Do you stay away from hospitals or doctor’s offices when you are sick because you are worried about catching a disease or do you seek out medical treatments to feel better?
Do you stay away from pharmacies or grocery stores because there may be hypocrites there at the store?
If you say no, to the questions above then you should say no also to staying at home and not going to Church. If you stay away from Church because of the Church being full of sinners, I will ask you to name me a place that doesn’t have a sinner in it? If you stay away from Church because someone hurting your feelings at some point in time, I will ask you why hurt yourself by staying away from Church for the sake of your eternal soul?
In the season of new year’s resolutions- make one today. Make sure, brothers and sisters, that you include regular weekly church attendance. This will be life changing and world changing. If everyone did this one simple thing just think what difference the world would be in 2022. God bless you. Amen