Archive for Saturday, January 7, 2012

Faith Forum: New Year’s resolutions involving one’s faith: good idea or bad idea?

January 7, 2012


The Rev. Jeff Barclay, lead pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:

New Year’s resolutions are a fantastic idea. But don’t limit yourself to once-a-year resolutions. Why not everyday?

Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that God’s mercies are new everyday.

Even though I haven’t raced for a couple of years, I fancy myself as an endurance athlete. Years ago, I adopted a mantra from the title of a book that I have never read: “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” Preparing for a race in June, I would run through slush, risk biking over black ice, or shovel a pre-dawn path through snow so I could drive to the pool, all to continue my training during a northern Illinois January. Race success in June required daily resolve in January.

A “long obedience in the same direction” means sticking to yesterday’s decision today and today’s resolution tomorrow. This pattern fits my Christian faith perfectly.

Making a faith resolution can be liberating because resolving to say no to lesser things empowers you to say to yes to better things. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua issues this charge, “Choose today who you will serve.” In context Joshua was giving God’s people the option of resolving to stay with the God of their faith or returning to the bonds of their former lives.

Indecision begins a slow fade. I am convinced Joshua’s challenge is all encompassing. Faith decisions may appear different from a New Year’s diet resolution. But a decision between a bag of chips on the couch or an apple and a long contemplative walk may both carry with them long-term life and death implications.

Aimless thinking and random, undisciplined living always delay development in the Christian faith. I once commented that I most enjoyed long races for the glamour of the start and the glory of the finish. The difficulties were the hours in between. That is also why the most important days of a faith resolution are the ones in the middle. That is why the race of faith requires a long obedience in the same direction.

— Send email to Jeff Barclay at

The Rev. Matt Sturtevant, First Baptist Church of Lawrence, 1330 Kasold Drive:

This time of year, secular media is filled with references to the New Year’s resolution: tips on how to make them, advertising designed to help you keep them, and jokes about breaking them. I like the comic strip I read last year about the woman who puts her resolutions on the computer so that once she breaks them, she can delete any evidence they ever existed!

Unless we have a specific resolution based on our faith — read the Bible more, go to church more regularly — we are inclined to think that these are largely secular choices.

Yet, upon further reflection I believe this dichotomy is a false one. While we usually describe the major decisions in our lives as either secular or spiritual, perhaps the best response of faith is to see every decision as a spiritual one. When I resolve to eat better or join a gym, it is because I see my body as created in God’s image. When I resolve to spend my money more wisely or to start recycling, it is because these are stewardship issues — taking care of what God has given me. When I resolve to spend more time with family, this, too, is a spiritual choice. When we recognize this, I believe it gives us a better chance of keeping those resolutions, because they come from a deeper part of who we are.

I believe that God wants to be involved in every aspect of our being. In the Bible, the book of Psalms says “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, and the world, and those who live in it.” (24:1) So as we begin this New Year, you are invited to make a resolution of’s to hoping you don’t have to hit delete too soon!

— Send email to Matt Sturtevant at


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

1) I don't believer New Year resolutions are a good idea. Instead, it is much better to think of every day as a new beginning. Besides, which New Year are you talking about? If you are thinking of January 1, you are certainly being ethnocentric.

Here is a list of the New Years for most of the world cultures:

1 January: The first official day of the year in the Gregorian calendar used by most countries.

14 January: The Tamil Nadu Tamil New Year (Declaration Bill 2008) was introduced in the House by the Tamil Nadu DMK Government on 29 January 2008.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the civil New Year falls on Gregorian 14 January

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about four to eight weeks before spring (Lichun). The exact date can fall anytime between 21 January and 21 February (inclusive) of the Gregorian Calendar.

The Vietnamese New Year is the Tết Nguyên Đán which is for most times the same day as the Chinese New Year.

The Tibetan New Year is Losar and falls from January through March.

Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. Ancient celebrations lasted for eleven days.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

2) Nava (new) Varsha (year) is celebrated in India in various regions in March–April.

New Year's Day in the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar is on 14 March.

The Iranian New Year, called Nowruz, is the day containing the exact moment of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on 20 or 21 March, commencing the start of the spring season.

The Zoroastrian New Year coincides with the Iranian New Year of Nowruz, and is celebrated by the Parsis in India and by Zoroastrians and Persians across the world. In the Bahá'í calendar, the new year occurs on the vernal equinox on 21 March, and is called Naw-Rúz.

The Iranian tradition was also passed on to Central Asian countries, including Kazakhs, Uzbeks and Uighurs, and there is known as Nauryz. It is usually celebrated on 22 March.

The Balinese New Year, based on the Saka Calendar (Balinese-Javanese Calendar), is called Nyepi, and it falls on Bali's Lunar New Year (26 March in 2009).

The Telugu New Year generally falls in the months of March or April. The people of Andhra Pradesh and TamilNadu in India celebrate the advent of New Year's Day in these months. This day is celebrated across entire Andhra Pradesh as UGADI (meaning the start of a new Year).

Kashmiri Calendar, Navreh (New Year): 5083 Saptarshi/2064 Vikrami/2007–08 AD, 19 March. This holy day of Kashmiri Brahmins has been celebrated for several millennia.

Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu year by the people of Maharashtra, India. This day falls in March or April and coincides with Ugadi. (see: Deccan)

Ugadi, the Telugu and Kannada New Year is celebrated by the people of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka ans TamilNadu in India as the beginning of a new year according to the Hindu Calendar. The first month of the New Year is Chaitra.

Sindhi festival of Cheti Chand is celebrated on the same day as Ugadi/Gudi Padwa to mark the celebration of the Sindhi New Year.

The Thelemic New Year on 20 March is usually celebrated with an invocation to Ra-Hoor-Khuit, commemorating the beginning of the New Aeon in 1904.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

3) The Assyrian New Year, called Rish Nissanu, occurs on the first day of April.

The new year of many South and Southeast Asian calendars falls between 13 and 15 April, marking the beginning of spring.

Punjabi/Sikh New Year is celebrated on 14 April in Punjab.

Nepali New Year is celebrated on the 1st of Baisakh Baisākh (12–15 April) in Nepal.

Assamese New Year (Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu) is celebrated on 14–15 April in the Indian state of Assam.

Bengali New Year (Bengali: পহেলা বৈশাখ Pôhela Boishakh or Bengali: বাংলা নববর্ষ Bangla Nôbobôrsho) is celebrated on the 1st of Boishakh (14–15 April) in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal.

Oriya New Year (Vishuva Sankranti) is celebrated on 14 April in the Indian state of Orissa.

Manipuri New Year or CHeirouba is celebrated on 14 April in the Indian State of Manipur with much festivities and feasting.

Sinhalese New Year is celebrated with the harvest festival (in the month of Bak) when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries). It was on April 13 in 2009.

Tamil New Year (Puthandu) is celebrated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, on the first of Chithrai (சித்திரை). In the temple city of Madurai, the Chithrai Thiruvizha is celebrated in the Meenakshi Temple. While the holiday generally falls on 13 or 14 April, this may no longer be the case (officially at least) in Tamil Nadu in the future, as a bill declaring the first day of the Tamil month 'Thai' (14 January) as the new Tamil New Year day was unanimously passed in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly.

Malayali New Year (Vishu) is celebrated in the South Indian state of Kerala.

In some parts of Karnataka, the New Year may be celebrated in mid-April, although it is most commonly celebrated on the day of Gudi Padwa, the Maharashtrian new year.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

4) The Water Festival is the form of similar new year celebrations taking place in many Southeast Asian countries, on the day of the full moon of the 11th month on the lunisolar calendar each year. The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed on 13–15 April.

In Myanmar it is known as Thingyan (Burmese: သင်္ကြန်; MLCTS: sangkran)

Songkran (Thai: สงกรานต์) in Thailand

Pi Mai Lao (Lao:ປີໃໝ່ Songkan) in Laos

Chaul Chnam Thmey (Khmer: បុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី ) in Cambodia.

The Kutchi people celebrate Kutchi New Year on Ashadi Beej, that is 2nd day of Shukla paksha of Aashaadha month of Hindu calendar. As for people of Kutch, this day is associated with beginning of rains in Kutch, which is largely a desert area. Hindu calendar month of Aashaadh usually begins on 22 June and ending on 22 July.

Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew for 'head of the year') is a Jewish holiday commemorating the culmination of the seven days of Creation, and marking God's yearly renewal of His world.

In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the New Year, called Neyrouz, coincides with 11 September in the Gregorian calendar between 1900 and 2099, with the exception of the year before Gregorian leap years, when Neyrouz occurs on 12 September.

The Coptic year 1723 began in September 2005.

The Ethiopian Orthodox New Year, called Enkutatash, falls on the same date as Neyrouz; the Ethiopian calendar year 1999 thus began on 11 September 2006.

The Marwari New Year is celebrated on the day of the festival of Diwali, which is the last day Krishna Paksha of Ashvin month & also last day of the Ashvin month of Hindu calendar.

The Gujarati New Year is celebrated the day after the festival of Diwali (which occurs in mid-fall – either October or November, depending on the Lunar calendar).

The Nepal Era New year (see Nepal Sambat) is celebrated in regions encompassing original Nepal. The new year occurs in the fourth day of Diwali. The calendar was used as an official calendar until the mid 19th century. However, the new year is still celebrated by citizens of original Nepal, the Newars.

Some neo-pagans celebrate their interpretation of Samhain (a festival of the ancient Celts, held around 1 November) as a New Year's Day representing the new cycle of the Wheel of the Year, although they do not use a different calendar that starts on this day.

The now deceased Murador Aboriginal tribe of Western Australia celebrated New Years on what is known on present day calendars to be the 30 October.

The Islamic New Year occurs on 1 Muharram. Since the Muslim calendar is based on 12 lunar months amounting to about 354 days, the Muslim New Year occurs about eleven days earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar, with two Muslim New Years falling in Gregorian year 2008.

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