Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

This week we said goodbye to the mouse and ushered in the Year of the Ox - in a weeklong festival of fireworks, dumplings, and general chaos. Spring Festival (or Chinese New Year) is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar – the Chinese equivalent of the American Christmas. It is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, so it falls at a different time every year. It is a time that celebrates the significance of family, and is a time to reflect on the happenings of the previous year and to wish for luck, joy, and hope in the new one.

The fun and superstition of the New Years festivities this week got me to thinking a lot about faith. Although most modern Chinese people do not thoroughly subscribe to all of the superstitions involved, most New Year traditions lie in the concept of scaring off monsters and ushering in good luck. I was ankle deep in residue from the firecrackers set off at midnight on New Years Eve to terrify evil monsters wanting to sneak from the old year to the new. We ate dumplings shaped like money bags to ensure wealth, but made sure not to turn over the fish, as that would steal from our prosperity. And of course those born in the Year of the Ox (2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937) will be wearing their red underwear throughout the year to ward off bad spirits in what will be major transitional years for them.

As fun as participating in all of this was, it reassured me to remember the sovereignty of God. How blessed we are to know that our ultimate purpose and joy lie not in a series of rituals, but rather in our relationship with our Creator, our Savior, our Father. For as many money bag shaped dumplings as I ate Sunday night, I’m pretty certain I’m not going to get rich this year. I’m glad to know that God is in control, and that His Joy is so much greater than anything I can achieve on my own efforts.

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