Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas. People here ask me how I spent the Christmas holiday. There is no holiday. But in China, there is a widespread recognition that Christmas is "one of the most important festivals in the Western world." So Christmas has somehow become "part of the landscape" here in China, as it has in every other country in the world, except, perhaps, for the world of Islam. Part of this is because Christmas is so universal throughout the western world, unlike Thanksgiving, which is uniquely American. But the other reason is that Christmas is about giving. It is about peace on earth. It is about a baby in a manger. It is about poor shepherds visited by choirs of angels. It's about light and hope coming to a dark world. Let's face it--there just is no other story like it.

Saturday, Christmas Day, I went to a Christmas party at a home fellowship in Beijing. One guy was talking with me and made the observation that I had obviously eaten well. I quickly agreed. Then he patted his own stomach, and said, "Well, I guess we are all sons of David." The standard Mandarin transliteration for David is Dawei. "Da" means large, and "wei" means guard. But "wei" also means stomach, even though it's a different character. Anyway, it's hard to explain--you had to be there.

Yesterday, I had a Christmas party at my place with some friends. Glen volunteered to do the cooking, because he had worked as a chef while he was in Scotland. I went with him to the Wudaokou Market to pick up some stuff. He came up with a delicious chicken curry dish. We sang some Christmas carols, and I shared a little from the second chapter of Matthew. It's interesting..if you are a believer, Christmas is somehow the same no matter where you are. And if you are not a believer, and Christmas really doesn't mean anything to you, then it really doesn't matter where you are either.

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