Happy New Year to all my Asian friends, may you have good health, long life, and a heart filled with joy as you serve our Lord Jesus faithfully. This year is 4714 which just proves that the Chinese culture is an old one. It is such fun to be a part of this annual celebration and yet it is one I knew nothing about until I had the pleasure of knowing some fine Chinese people who introduced me to this celebration. My young son is adopted from China so I certainly participate in this Asian celebration every year. I love that there are so many different holidays in our world to enjoy. Every culture has a New Year celebration of some kind and so for the Asian nations it is the Year of the Rooster based upon the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Like most holidays it is a time to spend with family and friends eating good food and relaxing. It is a time to focus on the past year and all that God has done for you and your family. It is also a time to think ahead for the coming year and plan for the future. It is a time to catch up with dear friends and family members and see what God is doing in their lives. It is all of this provided you are a Christian.
Unfortunately most Asian people don’t know about Christ and so they prepare for the New Year with superstitions and fear of not having a clean house for a clean year, starting the New Year with new clothes and new shoes, and so many more tasks to complete. So much of the Asian culture is bound up in superstition, revenge, and keeping others happy so that you can be happy. I hope that you are not bound in that type of celebration. I hope that you can enjoy parts of the Year of the Rooster and use this time of celebration as a reminder of God’s provision for you and your family. I hope that you can be free from the burdens attached to this celebration by your cultural view. Jesus came to free us from evil spirits and superstition but He didn’t say that we couldn’t celebrate. Jesus often celebrated with His community the Jewish traditional holidays. In fact the first miracle Jesus preformed was at a wedding when the host ran out of wine and Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). It isn’t the celebrating that we need to be mindful of but how we celebrate. I am sure that each Asian country has a little different way of celebrating the New Year. As Christians we can use this time of celebration to help our friends and neighbors learn about Jesus and that life free from superstitions and fears is possible.
My son and I plan to celebrate by going to our local college for an evening of Chinese food and cultural activities. There are many Chinese students attending a college in our town and so it gives us a great opportunity to learn more about the Chinese culture and to taste some good food as well. Hopefully we will be able to make some new friends. My son will also receive the traditional red envelope filled with money from me and hopefully from some of our family members also. He always looks forward to that tradition. We will decorate the house with a few Chinese New Year decorations to make it festive as well, and I will prepare some of our favorite foods during the two-week celebration. It will not be much of a celebration but it is at least acknowledging something special about my son’s country of birth.
The Apostle Paul gives some great advice about celebrations that I want to pass along to you. Some of you may be new Christians and unsure how to celebrate with your friends and family during the New Year. So here is some great advice.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, (English Standard Version or ESV).
When we celebrate this Year of the Rooster we can give God the glory in every part of the celebration. We can thank God for our family and our friends. We can thank God for the food that we eat and give God the glory for His provision of our needs. We can honor God in everything as we are told to do. After all God is the creator and sustainer of our very lives. Right? Gong Hay Fat Choy!