In Roman mythology, Janus is the god of time and transition, what we might call ‘a god of fresh starts’. He was depicted as having two faces, one that looked to the past and one that looked to the future, which explains the close connection between ‘Janus’ and the English word January.
As we approach another January, it’s only natural for us to think about transitioning into the new — once again. More than that, as Christians, we are grateful that the God of Life who is intimately acquainted with our past intends to guide us into a future that is characterised by hope and a sense of purpose.
As I look back over what has been happening at Trinity College Queensland in 2019, I am profoundly grateful. What comes to my mind first are the faces of students, students whose lives have been changed this past year because the Spirit of God has been so active in our community — during shared lunches, through conversations in the classroom, and yes, in the reading of books and the writing of essays in the library!
I have enjoyed hearing student testimonies on a number of occasions and being reminded of the many ways our God speaks and directs the hearts of those who seek him. As Lady Wisdom says with such certainty in Proverbs 8.17, ‘those who seek me will find me.’ This has been true for the college community in 2019.
And as I look forward into 2020 and beyond, I am again overwhelmed with gratitude. Why? Because the college continues to thrive and grow as students from various cultures and backgrounds share their questions and experiences of God. Because the faculty continues to think of creative ways to teach and engage with the important issues of our time, and our staff continues to find new ways to better serve our student body and the wider church. Our relationships with church leaders, Synod staff, and congregations keep deepening because we are committed to that endgame. In short, I am confident that we will continue to see the fruits of our co-labouring with God.
In practical terms, 2020 is exciting because it is our first year with the Australian College of Theology (ACT), Trinity’s new higher education provider. This shift brings with it new courses, new units, and new opportunities to collaborate with academic peers in 18 theological colleges across Australia. The staff have worked so hard on our new 2-year timetable, and we are truly excited about what is on offer to current and incoming students.
So. Here comes January. Again.
As we draw near to this crossroad, I encourage you to look both ways. Not left and right. But take your cues from the provocative image of Janus, look behind and before you.
In our fast-moving age, we need to be reminded that it is life-giving to stop, look and listen. One of the worst things we can do with our short lives is to just do what we did last year, without reflection or intention. Actually, in a practical sense, this is precisely what theological education is about: being shaped for the future by considering the past.
As 2019 rumbles to a close, I urge you: look both ways. And if Trinity can support or assist you in the vital tasks of reflection and intention, so that 2020 may bring you transformation and purpose, we would love to be part of your travels.
~ Paul Jones
Principal of Trinity College Qld