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Faces on Faith: Happy New Year — sort of

By Staff | Jan 4, 2013

Rev. Dr. John H. Danner

Earlier this week we marked the beginning of 2013 with champagne toasts and the dropping of the ball on Times Square and strains of “Auld Lang Syne.” But the truth is the way we mark time is all rather arbitrary.

For folks in China, the New Year – this coming year will be the Year of the Snake – doesn’t happen until February 10. The Chinese calendar, which is lunar, starts roughly two months after the winter solstice.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, won’t happen until next fall. It is a two-day event in the Jewish month of Tishrei. It will begin Wednesday, Sept. 4 at sunset and end Friday, Sept. 6 at sunset.

The Christian year begins not on Jan. 1, but with the first Sunday in the season of Advent, the weeks prior to Christmas. That happened last month!

So, Happy New Year – sort of!

Many folks make resolutions at the beginning of the year. Promises to themselves, or God, or someone else, to institute changes in their lives. Perennial favorites include losing weight, giving up cigarettes and starting an exercise program. Have you ever noticed your gym is a lot busier in January?

New Year’s resolutions are good things, I think. It is helpful to set such personal goals for ourselves. Of course we often break them. Those same gyms seem to empty out a bit come February. But the arbitrariness of the way we mark time is a reminder that any day can be New Year’s Day. We can start fresh any time we choose to. We don’t need to wait for January first to roll around!

No doubt some folks reading this column made a resolution or two earlier in the week and already have been challenged in their attempts to keep them. I know I’ve made resolutions I’ve found difficult to keep in the past. One of the things that I have found helpful in adhering to the resolutions I’ve made is building in some accountability. Telling a friend, a spouse, a trusted counselor, a support group or God can help keep your feet to the fire.

When I was young I needed to have three wisdom teeth removed. Every year, for several years, I promised myself I’d get it done. But who wants to take on dental work?

Finally, I told a few people one year that it was one of my resolutions. Just knowing one of them might ask if I’d gotten to the oral surgeon or not spurred me on. Those teeth are now long gone! All they’ve left behind is a bit of wisdom!

Whether you make resolutions or not, whether you’re marking the beginning of the New Year now or later, might the weeks and months ahead be filled with promises kept and opportunities for growth.