Some traditions make the first of January the chance for the big “do over”. Most of us have made a New Year’s resolution or two and the majority of them have brief lifespans.Historically the notion of such resolutions has roots 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. The 12-day religious festival known as Akitu was held in March (the beginning of their new year) when the crops were planted. The Babylonians also crowned a new king at this time and the people made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any borrowed objects. Keeping such promises kept them in good standing with their gods.
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome after Julius Caesar changed the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year. January was named after Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches. Romans believed that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and forward into the future. They offered sacrifices to their deity and made promises to behave in the coming year.
For early Christians the first day of the new year was the time to think about past mistakes and commit to doing better in the year to come. In 1740 the English clergyman, John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service. Also called watch night this service was held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. A time of reading scriptures and singing hymns offered an alternative to more raucous celebrations.
We know that with the abundance of God’s love, encouragement and forgiveness every day is a “do over”. Each morning appears fresh with opportunity to be alive as co-creators in the context of God’s promises. With that in mind I offer these resolutions for 2019 as ongoing works in progress toward a happy and healthy 2019 and beyond.
- Instead of seeking to lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, etc. take time to identify those health habits that can really help you achieve your personal health goals.
- Get an annual check-up from your health care provider.
- Take time to volunteer.
- Reconnect with an old friend.
- Engage in those end of life discussions and complete the paperwork.
- Try a new form of meditation.
- A resolution of your own creation