Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Friday, February 12 2021
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
Tonight’s new moon begins the Lunar New Year celebration, which growing up, I knew primarily as the Chinese New Year. The term Lunar New Year is the broader catch-all term for the global celebrations, including and beyond China: it is called Seollal in South Korea, Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia, Tết in Vietnam, Losar in Tibet, and many more across Asia and the globe. It occurs on the second new moon after the winter solstice and is celebrated by 1.5 billion people around the world. There have been Lunar New Year celebrations in the United States for at least the last 150 years, and because everyone seeks to be with family and friends for the new year, one commentator suggested that the global festivities instigate “the largest yearly human migration on the planet” (think Thanksgiving and Christmas travel schedules scaled up across all of Asia out to every corner of the world). Obviously the 2021 festivities will be abbreviated and adapted to smaller more intimate crowds, but even over zoom, the New Years parties will include feasts, gifts, games, and settling debts, as well as fireworks, lanterns and candles to symbolically banish the darkness of the long winter nights.
This lunisolar holiday is ubiquitous and cross-cultural and therefore does not have a singular precise religious element, but because of those themes of light and darkness, family and feast, renewal and even debt forgiveness, it does carry a sacred quality, sacramental even. Whether or not you or your family celebrate the Lunar New Year, the holiday gives us a chance to recognize the poignant ways our global community turns toward the hope of what is ahead.
God whose tenderness spans this wide world, as we honor and recognize the sacred within the Lunar New Year, may we notice our connection to the global community anew. Amen.