I wrote this short piece back in 2009. At the end of this commentary, I added two prayers for New Year’s Eve and for New Year’s Day.
Philippines New Year“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Rita Mae Brown, Sudden Death (Bantam, 1983)
Year after year, hundreds of Filipinos get maimed and a few are killed by firecrackers and stray bullets in New Year’s Eve celebrations. And year after year, government officials brag about a ban on this senseless revelry.
Many Filipinos, influenced by Chinese tradition and superstition, believe that noisy New Year’s Eve celebrations drive away evil and bad luck in the coming year and explodie huge firecrackers and firing guns, even under threat to life and limb (pun intended). Every neighborhood in big cities is a scene of people lighting the biggest firecrackers that they have bought from markets, malls, and sidewalk vendors; “illegal” firecrackers are practically available to anyone anywhere. These are not cheap, but Filipinos are willing to spend their hard-earned money (or their relatives’ hard-earned money from overseas jobs) on such insanity.
What if each barangay (city district or ward) pool all the money they want to spend on their own personal firecrackers to hold a fireworks show at exactly midnight? These shows should be conducted and supervised by fireworks people who know what they’re doing. They should be held in a big plaza or school or any place big enough for people to gather and visible enough for the whole district to watch. And maybe toss in a couple of hours entertainment before the midnight fireworks show. This is what many cities in the U. S. enjoy on the 4th of July.
No one gets hurt in an insane revelry, and everyone, rich and poor, gets to enjoy the show.
AND WHY WOULD CHRISTIANS want to participate in a celebration loaded with pagan superstitions? Why not spend your New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day together with your families before God’s throne of grace on your knees praying these two prayers?
Prayer on New Year’s Eve:
Almighty and most gracious God, as we come to the close of another year, we thank you for all your tender mercies bestowed upon us during the whole course of our lives, especially during this past year. We therefore offer unto you the sacrifice of our praises, and we acknowledge, that through your great goodness and help, we are enabled to pass our years in peace, although we have offended you in innumerable ways. O merciful God, pardon all who sincerely repent of their sins. Grant that, while our years are passing away, we may work out our salvation with fear and trembling in the time you give to us. Enable us to press onward always toward the end of our heavenly calling, even that blessed eternity, which Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, has prepared for us. Amen.
Prayer on New Year’s Day:
Eternal and Almighty God, we humble ourselves in your presence to dedicate to you the beginning of the year, by adoration, prayer and praise. We come before your Supreme Majesty, and acknowledge, with gratitude, the manifold blessings which you have freely bestowed upon us, through the whole course of our lives. We thank you, that having preserved us to the present time, you have permitted us to enter upon a new year. You have not ceased, O most gracious God, to give to us the abundance of your lovingkindness. But you have especially sustained us with every spiritual blessing by keeping in the midst of us the light of your Gospel. You have invited us to repentance, through your mighty help, through your great goodness, and through the warnings of your Word and Spirit; and have mercifully granted unto all of us favorable opportunities to grow in grace. Despite our unworthiness, for the love of Jesus Christ, take not away from us your protection and favor.
Moved by your grace, we devote ourselves to you at the beginning of this year, desiring to employ it better than we have done the years that are past. And since this also warns us that our years pass away like a flood, like a dream, give us grace that we may seriously number our days that we may have a heart of wisdom; that we may discern the vanity of this life; and that we may aspire to that better life, when days, and months, and years, shall be counted no more forever. While we continue in the flesh, may we more and more live not according to its desires, but according to your will. And grant, O God, that when our years shall come to an end, and the day of our death arrives, we may depart in your peace that surpasses all understanding and in the sure hope of life everlasting. Favorably hear us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from the Liturgical Forms and Confessions Committee of the 2012 Synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America)