Editor’s note: We are pleased to be able to offer the original Chinese version of this article. Please scroll down to the end to find the downloadable PDF.
Since becoming a Christian, I have spent more than thirty Christmases in China. I am familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus Christ in the Bible, and I know the spiritual significance of Christmas. Every year at Christmas, Christians always prepare a lot of evangelistic programs with great fervor. As a pastor, I have preached numerous sermons urging people to embrace the birth of Jesus Christ and believe in him. For me, Christmas is an evangelistic festival, and it is always one of my busiest working days.
A cross-cultural worker in China always joyfully sent me Christmas cards each year, expressing great delight in returning to the US for vacation during the Christmas season. I couldn’t help but think, “How nice!” It was heartwarming to realize that Christmas is a widely celebrated holiday in the United States, embraced by the entire nation.
One year, however, her agency hadn’t approved her plans to return home. I vividly recall a poignant moment of her tears and sadness, which left a lasting impact on me. I realized that, in the US, Christmas holds significance as a time for family and friends, a cherished holiday.
Last year, I traveled to the US without any work obligations, allowing me the freedom to fully enjoy my Christmas vacation. I received an invitation from a family to spend two days at Big Bear Lake in Southern California. Serendipitously, it coincided with one of the rare rainy seasons in California, transforming the mountains into a surprising, icy spectacle. The warm vacation home offered a sanctuary, shielded from the snow and cold outside, where a joyous family embraced Christian peace and calm. It was a tranquil Christmas holiday, and the ambiance of “universal rejoicing in the coming of the Savior” felt perfectly in place. I cherish this type of Christmas—unrestricted, serene, and filled with peace.
This year’s Christmas decorations began in early December. Many evenings I drove around the neighborhoods looking at the Christmas lights in front of people’s homes. There was not a single pedestrian on the road, very few vehicles, and even the homes with brilliant lights in front of them had their doors closed, unaware that there was that one person who drove around specifically to see their lights, imagining a joyful gathering of families in the house enjoying each other during the Christmas season. Getting used to seeing Christmas lights in the malls, those are commercial acts. But these lights, which were thoughtfully decorated for no other reason than for myself and my family, gave me a burst of warmth as a foreigner.
There are still a lot of Christmas activities in the churches, and some of the big churches have very high-end Christmas concerts, all of which appealed to me. However, on my rare trip to the United States, I want to experience and practice the “holiday freedom” of ordinary Americans, who are not bound by religious holidays. America is said to be a country on wheels, and I plan to spend my Christmas vacation on wheels this year. The plan is already set: driving on Highway 5 to San Francisco on a smooth road on the way there; and returning to Los Angeles via Highway 1 on the way back, with an unrivaled view of the sea. With the exuberance and peace and joy of my own life, I would like to express the blessings brought by the birth of Jesus Christ: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those with whom he is pleased.
Translated by the ChinaSource Team.
Pastor Dorcas Du (杜嘉) is the founding pastor of Blessed Land Church (福地教会) in Guangzhou, playing a pivotal role in China's emerging urban churches. Armed with a theological foundation from the Singapore Bible College (新加坡神学院) and the China Graduate School of Theology (中国神学研究院), she is presently pursuing a doctorate in …View Full Bio
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