New Year’s Eve partying seems more pagan than Christian to most. There is a lot of drinking and plans to improve that few follow up on. We shoot off fireworks and say to our friends, I am ready for this year to be over with so we can start anew,” yet we quickly fall back into the same old patterns, expecting that a new calendar year will somehow make all our old problems go away.
If the truth be told, we should celebrate every day as a new day, every minute as a new minute.
Many pastors start off the Sunday sermon with the quote, “this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
The phrase is worth repeating every morning when you wake up and for reflecting upon each evening as you head for sleep. It reminds us that each day was created new by God and that our sins are washed away each time we repent (or show regret and sorrow with a true desire to change) and ask for forgiveness.
Through grace, each day is a new day, each year is a new year and each one of us becomes a new person every time we recognize that the world is largely out of our control and the only way things will get better is if we follow the word of Christ and do our best to follow the laws of God, while using some common sense for the new age and tempering the law with love and judgement with protective correction meant to help not punish others or ourselves.
Being a Christian is not easy and a lot of Christians have so merged themselves into the ways of the world that it is hard to separate them from non-Christians.
Should Christians drink? We are told not to let alcohol control us and that it is better to be filled with the Holy Spirit than with alcoholic spirits, so if you are capable of drinking one weak drink and stopping then there is no harm, but if you have ever drank more than you intended or gotten buzzed and enjoyed the feeling and tried to get a little more buzzed, then chances are drinking is not a good thing for you.
If you long for a good stiff drink after work more than you long for a relationship or meditation with Christ, then you probably are more controlled by the alcohol than you should be.
So, should Christians even be celebrating New Year’s Eve? It is okay as long as you remain sober, rejoice with friends who love Christ as you do and focus on ways to serve Christ even better in the New Year.
A good party for Christians would involve everyone saying one thing they would like to improve about themselves in the New Year and how that improvement would serve to make them closer to Christ.
Kids tend to copy adults, so drinking non-alcoholic champagne or toasting with grape juice when kids are around is never a bad idea. Drinking around kids is not innocent and encourages them to desire alcohol as well. If they see adults showing control and having fun without drinking, they are more likely to see that you do not have to get drunk to get silly.
On that note, play some games that are silly. They do not necessarily have to be Biblically themed, but they could be.
Blind folding a person and having them find their way to a goal while videoing the path they actually take while blind folded helps them to see how hard it is to travel a straight line when you do not have the light in your life to guide you.
You can play Devil’s Advocate, where they have to find the answer to a puzzling question and have to ask others to give them hints as to how to solve the problem. Then they have to figure out who is giving them false advice and who is giving them good advice in order to solve the problem or find the answer to a question.
Christian themed parties do not have to be boring and adults can have just as much fun with kids as without them, but a party where everyone holds hands and prays just before midnight and shouting Happy New Year, can be a lot more meaningful and encouraging than getting a little tipsy or down and out drunk and acting foolish.
Good goals for Christians to strive for in the New Year include:
Joining a bible study group that is exciting and fun
Doing more charitable work with groups or alone
Giving up something you are addicted to in order to give something more to someone else (if you eat too much food, calculate what you spend on unhealthy foods or eating out and commit to giving the money you would spend on food to someone who may not have enough of it). If you are addicted to movies, games, etc. log the cost and time for one month and then vow to give more of your time to helping others.
If you are too busy to do any of these things, look at how you spend your time and what draws the most of your attention.
Challenge your friends to join you in the quest for a better you and create an on-line or centrally located progress chart and encourage others to challenge you rather than make fun of them if they fall short of their goal.
Pay attention to how your attitude affects others and vow to make some changes if you find you are putting your own agenda and opinions ahead of others without letting them speak.
The New Year is an exciting time when all of us want to plan for a better future. Part or all of that planning should be based on God’s plan for us.
It is hard to stay focused on heavenly things when you are grounded to the earth, but a new year will not make things new or better. Only people changing their attitudes and habits to reflect Christian values will bring about lasting change that benefits the most people.