In 2008, members of the English fellowship of Haidian Christian Church in Beijing did a series of "man on the street" interviews, asking people what they knew about Christmas and Jesus. The video was then used in their Christmas program at the church. Christmas may be popular in China, but most people still don't have any idea what it is really all about.
Earlier this month, there was an article in the Gospel Times about how the original meaning of Christmas has been lost, and calling on the Church to use the popularity of Christmas as an opportunity to clarify the real meaning and to spread the gospel.
Christmas was first established so that Christians all over the world could celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus together. When Christmas was first established, no one expected that it would one day break free of its religious nature and become a popular and fashionable festival all around the world, including China. Even so, the most effective way to keep the original flavor of Christmas is for Christian Churches to share the Gospel of truth at Christmas.
The annual Christmas month is here again. Walking in the street, the strongest sense of Christmas comes from the shopping malls. If you search Christmas in Baidu or read the news about Christmas, the most related topics are usually nice gift and shopping spree.
If you go to the market, although Christmas is still two weeks away, Christmas promotional advertisements and decorations are on every street and lane. Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, Christmas window decorations, and gifts are all over the place from Beijing to Shanghai to Guangzhou. All the markets are filled with the atmosphere of Christmas and are all promoting their Christmas discounts.
What comforts me a little is that I went to Haidian Church and Gangwashi Church the Sunday before Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November -- November 22 this year) and saw that the churches had also started preparing for Christmas. Christmas trees were displayed in the Church Square and the lights for Christmas Eve were hung in the church windows.
Indeed, in recent years, more and more Chinese people have started to celebrate Christmas and give each other gifts. Probably because all the elements together, Santa Claus, Christmas gifts, reindeer and Christmas sleighs create a warm, romantic and cheerful atmosphere which caters to peoples expectation for a better life and awakes the child within all of us.
Celebrating Christmas is becoming more and more popular. In this impetuous society, people will use any excuse they can to party and have a feast. However, as Christians who listen to Gods holy words, we have the responsibility to make a positive sound in this age to share Gods free Grace with the withered souls. We need to reach out to people trapped in the materialistic world and preach the good news of the kingdom to win souls for God.
Christmas is a day to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Although the specific date in which the Lord Jesus was born was not recorded in the Bible and this day had some pagan origins, with the passing of time, Christmas has gradually become an important festival for us Christians. This festival is not for partying, not for feasts, not for shopping, not for the gifts of Santa, but for the word of God and the birth of Jesus.
Journalists from The First News of Shaanxi Radio and Television Station did some research concerning Christmas and found that even though Christmas is in the air, few people know the meaning of Christmas itself. Most people only know that Christmas is a commercial festival, or about Santa Claus, or that it is a holiday for exchanging gifts. Those of us who are Christians should reflect on the fact that so few Chinese know about Christmas.
I hope that the 2012 Christmas will be a ge-livable (A Chinglish word, meaning good, effective, cooperative and cool) Christmas for Chinese Christians. I hope that we will use this holiday to clarify the true meaning of Christmas and share the salvation brought by Jesus Christ; to tell of the free grace of God and the good news of the kingdom to the withered souls in this materialistic world.Haidian English Fellowship website
Image credit: Christmas Angel, by Kirt Edblom, via Flickr
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