Christmas – it’s that time of the year when shops and retail outlets have big sales; that time of the year when you start to see hot chocolate, egg nog, Christmas-themed Starbucks drinks and Christmas-themed candy everywhere; that time of the year when Christmas trees seem to magically grow overnight, and Christmas lights line streets and houses.
In those regards, Christmas is pretty much the same both in Singapore and in Canada. And even though there are differences (e.g. in the way Christmas is celebrated, the general mindset towards such a festive occasion, a greater involvement nation-wide amongst both the saved and the unsaved), there is one great similarity – Christmas is very much just another holiday that has somehow found a way to remove Christ from the picture (much like how Easter is more about the Easter bunny than it is about our Lord fulfilling his great promise). Christmas is just another Christ-less holiday where a good portion of the population is ignorant of its meaning, and use it as an excuse to eat, drink, make merry, and basically to indulge in the sins and pleasures of this world in a sinful and Christ-less manner.
At the time of writing this letter, I am reminded of one verse in particular:
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:12)
What a sad reality it is, and yet a joyful one at the same time! Sad because it reminds me of the state of the world – the state in which all those who have yet to know Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour are in, described as “having no hope”. Joyful because it reminds me of God’s marvelous saving grace, who would send his one and only begotten Son – humbled, beaten, crucified – to save a wretched sinner such as I.
I was asked to write a letter / article about what Christmas is to me, or how different Christmas is in Canada, by a certain someone ;) I didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do both! However, the trade-off is that my article would have less of a focus, and would be more “all over the place” – and I’m sorry if I failed to adequately address either, or both aspects of this task.
At this time, I would just like to ask a quick question that has no real answer to it: “How are you going to spend your Christmas?” It is one question that seems to follow me everywhere I go… For most of you, the Christmas break is a month-long holiday starting in December as soon as school ends. For me, my Christmas break begins only when my exams for this semester are complete – and this year, it means that I have a 2-week break before school starts again. Turkey? YF Camp? Caroling? Canata? Whatever it is that you have managed to do, and are planning to do, I pray it has been and will be a blessed and fruitful time. But let me also take this time to share with you how I am going to spend my Christmas!
Beside the fact that I will be going on a trip with Joel Chang, I also plan to fulfill 3 R’s: Rest, Relax and Remember (to reflect on how God has been good to me, including all the people in my life He has blessed me with, and to recall the areas of my life wherein I have failed).
To end off, I’d like to remind all of you of the words of The Preacher:
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
Yes, there is a time for festivities, and a time for Christmas. As you go about your Christmas this year, my only hope is that you will take time to think on your life, but more so on the lives of all the others out there who have yet to embrace God’s wonderful gift – Jesus Christ. It is something I don’t recall ever doing at this time of the year (or even if I did, it must have been really unproductive in order for me to have forgotten), but definitely something that changes your perspective and reminds you of the realities of this life and world that we live in, and the urgent need for the gospel.
I also echo the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote in Philippians 1:3-11,
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Till we meet again :)
Love, in Christ,