As we prepare for Easter this year, two members of the ChinaSource team share memories of Easters celebrated as they served in Chinese communities.
One of the times I attended an Easter service in China, I noticed that a lot of people headed to the meeting place were carrying small bouquets of flowers. I thought that was a nice way to do something different for Easter but did not think too much more about it.
During the Easter service we were told about a baptism ceremony that had been held prior to the service. We were shown a video of the baptisms which had happened in another location. I remembered that this had been discussed for several weeks previously as the church leaders had meetings with those interested in being baptized. I recall the pastor challenging the men during services that baptism was not simply a ritual but a mark of a new life. The pastor told the men, “It’s not too late. No one is requiring you to be baptized. If you really follow Jesus, just think of all the things you will not be able to do, all the questionable business and money you won’t be able to make. You have time to change your mind.”
For many of my Chinese friends deciding to be baptized is a big decision. For some it has triggered a lot of family concern and opposition. For others it forced them to reconsider their walk with the Lord and whether a public statement would have negative consequences for them.
At the end of the Easter service those who had been baptized were called up to the platform at the front of the meeting hall. As people started to join the pastor at the front many were also given a bouquet of flowers by their friends. The front of the meeting was packed as over sixty adults joined the pastor on the platform, and the pastor prayed for them. There were a lot of men among the crowd of those who had been baptized.
As we finished the service and those who had been baptized went to see their family and friends, more bouquets were passed to them as an encouragement and celebration.
When I see spring flowers, I am often reminded of these Easter services and this simple symbol of the new life that Jesus made possible on that first Easter morning.
The Family of God Celebrates Easter Together
Our first Easter in Hong Kong took place in 1987. Both Good Friday and Easter Monday were public holidays and, interestingly, they are to this day. The church we were serving was an English-speaking church, in which the majority were Hong Kongers with about 25% expatriates.
My wife and I did not come from a tradition that regularly gathered for a Good Friday service, so we didn’t know what to expect as we arrived that day. The church was packed, and the hearts of the people were keen as we worshipped our Servant King.
After the service, most of those who had attended stuck around for a long time on the church patio. Many went from there to have lunch together. The same thing happened on Easter Sunday.
Our church also had a Christmas Day worship service no matter what day Christmas was that year. Unlike Easter and Christmas services in the West, which empty quickly as people hurry home to family activities, everyone lingered and there was an intimate spirit of community.
There were reasons for this. We were a young church, full of couples who were starting their careers and families. Also, most of the people in our church were first generation Christ followers, whose extended family members did not know Christ, at least not yet. This was a faith holiday that many families did not embrace. So on Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas the family of God loved to get together and celebrate!
Over time, our family began hosting open house meals on some of these special days. People would come and go as they pleased. We would eat, laugh, pray, and share together, and our family enjoyed the benefits of fellowshipping with the family of God.
We have close friendships with many of these dear friends to this day. It’s been a long while since we have seen most of them, but whenever we are together, we move quickly with joy, back into the close community we knew so long ago.
On behalf of the entire ChinaSource Team, we wish you and your family the joy of Easter as you worship the risen Lord with your church family!
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