Twenty children were buried last month in one small Connecticut town. Two firemen were murdered while trying to battle a blaze. The country learned the phrase “fiscal cliff,” and wondered in light of how 2012 ended, what 2013 would bring.
On this New Year’s Day, there’s hope for a safer tomorrow, hope for a clearer understanding of mankind, and for some, a hope for answers to the often unanswerable questions.
“People want, I think, something to answer their questions,” said the
Rev. Bill Klossner, pastor at Congregational Church of Christ in Punta Gorda. “People, I think, do look at faith in the New Year sometimes as part of resolutions: ‘I want to do better; I want to be better.’”
The Rev. Eddie DeJesus, pastor at New Hope Community Church in
North Port, said people often begin reflecting on their lives around Thanksgiving and it continues into the New Year’
“It’s usually when we wake up and say, ‘What gives me meaning?’” DeJesus said.
New Hope will begin a new study this week called “Living in the Zone,” DeJesus said, which will focus on “really getting back to faith and God, back to reality.”
While the holidays have brought people back to houses of worship, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School did the same.
“Since this happened, we have had more people coming to church,” said the Rev. Rafael Padilla, of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte. “They came to church with heartfelt prayers.”
Padilla said the response to the school shooting in Connecticut was similar to the way people sought out faith after the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks.
What happened in Newtown was felt by all communities ... I find that very beautiful,” Padilla said.
The Rev. Jean Hite, of St. Nathaniel’s Episcopal Church in North Port, also remarked on the similarity to 9/11.
“These kinds of tragedies do tend to bring people together,” Hite said.
New Hope Community Church in North Port had its share of sadness in 2012 when one its pastors and his wife passed away.
“These are things there isn’t any self-help book out there for,” DeJesus said. “There isn’t anything that has answers. The only thing is you have to go back to God.”
Most houses of worship, including New Hope, St. Nathaniel’s, St. Maximilian Kolbe and Congregational Church of Christ, are open to new members seeking faith in the New Year. Catholic churches will hold Mass today for the Solemnity of Mary. The Unity Church of Peace in Port Charlotte will offer a White Stone Ceremony at noon, which involves meditation.
“Sometimes people want that faith in the face of the unknown,” Klossner said.