But in this case, at least, the Romans appear to have been on to something. The winter (or hibernal) solstice, also known as "midwinter", and marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year, occurred then, as now, on or about December 21. Thereafter, the days immediately ceased to grow shorter and began to grow longer.
For this reason, the Romans instinctively understood that winter was giving way to spring, and that symbolically, the old was giving way to the new. Thus, literally and metaphorically, the death of the previous year was somehow making way for the life of the new year.
And for this same reason, to this very day, we still employ the term “January” for that period of time when the old year gives way to the new, and when we can both look back at the old and look forward to the new.
As you and I stand on the threshold of a new year, I trust that we will each take a little time to reflect on the experiences and the lessons of the previous year. But I also trust that we will look forward with anticipation to what all the new year has to offer!
It has well been said that the past is a great place to visit, but that one should never live there. By the same token, it is also a dangerous thing to live, as Dennis Waitley once observed, on “Someday Isle” (read as “Someday I’ll”… as in “Someday I’ll do this…” or “Someday I’ll do that…”). In truth, the future, which is ever before us and continually serves to inspire us, nonetheless demands that we live in the present, in the moment, in the “now”.
Perhaps that is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he said (in his New Testament Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 16) that we were to “redeem the time because the days are evil”.
The word translated as “evil” in most all English versions of the Bible is the “Koine” (or “Common”) Greek word “ponērai”, meaning “evil, bad, or wicked”, which itself comes from the root word “pónos”, meaning "painful, laborious, or troublesome”.
Indeed, there is a very real sense in which the days that we live in this world, as a result of the tragic events of Genesis, chapter 3, are little more than a collection of difficulties with which we must each contend. And, if we would be completely honest, who among us has not, at times, grown weary of the daily struggles of life?
The word translated as “redeem” in the King James Version, and as “making the most of (every opportunity)” in the New International Version is the ancient Greek term “ex-agorazo-menoi”, meaning “to ransom, to buy, to redeem”. In turn, it comes from a root word that literally means “to buy up at the marketplace”.
One gets the visual image here of a sale at a department store on some such day as “Black Friday”, wherein people literally “snatch up” every single bargain that they can afford, knowing full well that they will likely not ever have such an opportunity again.
What an apt metaphor for the opportunities that come our way with each new day of life! I do not know about you, my friend; but “as for me and my house”, we intend on making the most of every new day that God gives us in the coming year.
Therefore, we pledge that we will buy up every single opportunity that we encounter. For, in truth, we know in our hearts that we simply will not pass this way again!
Surely you realize that the same choice befits you!
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/ephesians/5-16.htm. And: http://biblehub.com/text/ephesians/5-16.htm.
SEE ALSO: Cf.: http://deniswaitley.com/.
FINALLY, HERE IS AN ANCIENT ROMAN COIN DEPICTING THEIR DIETY KNOWN AS JANUS: https//:www.britannica.com/topic/Janus-Roman-god.