Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sticking Together

by Rev. James Wong
Today marks the 15th day of the Chinese New Year celebration which is also the last day. It is also know as the Lantern Festival or Yuanxiao Festival.

Chinese celebrate the first full moon of the year on this day and it is the time for family reunion again. In our highly mobile world today, many family members seldom meet each other except during the Chinese New Year when everyone comes home from near and far to spend time together to renew family ties.

Family relationship is among the most important relationships in our lives. When God created Adam He said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:18 NIV). Here begins the foundational need for companionship and a family. We find our meaning and a sense of wellbeing when we belong to a family. We should not take family relationships frivolously because the Bible warns us that, “if anyone does not take care of his relatives, especially the members of his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8 TEV).

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are to care for those in your family and those related to your family such as your grand parents, parents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, cousins, nephews and nieces, father-in-laws and mother-in-laws and everyone related to you in some way. You are obligated to care for them and preserve the relationships lest you will be branded as worse than those who do not know God in their lives. But what about those difficult relationships? Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44 NIV). Most of our relatives are not our enemies and yet we cannot tolerate them.

I have seen a family that kept the tradition of gathering together for a reunion meal in the eldest brother’s home on the first day of Chinese New Year. Gradually, every family and their siblings became Christians. Most of them make excuses that they cannot come for such reunion anymore because they need to visit their church members or their cell group members. The family ties were broken since then.

Some Hockkien eat “Tangyuan” on the last day of the Chinese New Year. It is a kind of cake, which looks like a table tennis ball (a little smaller) made of sticky rice with sweet stuffing inside. Everyone eats a few on Lantern Festival, which symbolizes family will stick together. Is your family sticking together? This is the focus of the sermon.

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