Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Toward a Theology of New Year's Parties

By Andrew Faris

A few years ago I was at a New Year’s party with a bunch of my friends from high school, almost all of whom are not Christians. When the 3-hour-tape-delayed ball dropped in New York City and all of these drunk college students started cheering, I wondered exactly they were all cheering about (other than being drunk anyway). I think of Ben Gibbard’s lyrics in Death Cab for Cutie’s “The New Year”: “So this is the new year and I don’t feel any different...So this is the new year, and I have no resolutions for self assigned penance and problems with easy solutions.”

That feeling of contrivance is why I’ve never liked New Year’s.
For my non-Christian friends, New Year’s was an excuse to get drunk and kiss someone you didn’t know, then to pretend that they’ll lose some weight this year.

Of course some will aim for bigger targets than weight loss (no pun intended).
But do any of us really think that much is going to change? Do we really think that last year’s bad habits and lack of discipline are suddenly gone because time ticked a little farther forward? Most people will do the same bad things last year that they did this year.

That’s what total depravity would seem to indicate anyway. Spiritually dead children of wrath do not need a fresh start from a new year. They need reconciliation with God through the blood of Christ. They need the Holy Spirit to dwell in them to maintain obedience to our Lord.

No amount of new years can substitute for that. And indeed history indicates that there are plenty of sin-induced human tragedies in every new year. New Year’s is a prime reminder of the need for the gospel.

Of course it is different for Christians. We have the Holy Spirit, which means that we always have the power to increase our devotion to Christ. We don’t need a new year for that. If New Year’s is to be of any help to us, it will be in our tangible experience that, unlike the rest of sinful humanity (and unlike the sinful humans we once were), there is change we can believe in.

But that change, that growth, is only by God’s Spirit, only because of the blood of Christ, and only to the glory of God the Father.


glen. said...

Auld Lang Syne, Faris. Kudos on the very Pauline use a politically charged phrase to make a very relevant, spiritual point.

glen. said...

There should be an "of" in there.