Upbeat 恭喜恭喜恭喜你 Chinese New Year songs quickly displaced Christmas jingles. The crowd moved from Orchard Road to Chinatown, from the neon signs along our famed shopping stretch to red paper-plastic lighted lanterns. Faux snow was replaced with red decorations. Homes have been spruced up, ready for visits.
We hurry these things along, quickly moving from one season to another.
Not all are looking forward to Chinese New Year. We worry about how people look at us, frantically prepare “acceptable” answers to anticipated questions, the likes of: “Your PSLE what score ah”, “Which school are you in?”, “Still single ah?”, “When getting married ah?”, “When going to have kids ah?”.
Sure, it’s usually asked out of concern for our well-being, but it still means there’s a lot of people who shun the visits because they dread these conversations.
Besides, these are relatives you only see once a year. Surely if you were that important, they’d look for you beyond CNY, right? So why hang around for them?
There’s just so many reasons to avoid CNY visits this year. To get away, to get some peace and quiet, to get relatives off your back. But there is an urgency of this festive season.
Many Christians only share the Gospel in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s easy to see December as an opportunity to invite friends and relatives to your church’s Christmas service. I mean, Christ is so visibly a part of Christmas that there’s no denying the Christian element of the season. They may not realise it, but the whole world celebrates the birthday of Christ.
But when it comes to Chinese New Year, in our busyness to look good in front of our relatives, we tend to get caught up in celebrating ourselves – our new beginnings in the form of new clothes and angpows filled with new notes.
Instead of running away from conversations, it is time for us to embrace them. Chinese New Year is a great time to tell people about Christ.
In the celebration of ourselves, we forget our Christian responsibility: How we are tasked to bring the Gospel wherever we go, whenever God calls us to. We forget that being a Christian is about bringing people to Christ, not about bringing people to a church building. We forget about how the harvest is ripe even during Chinese New Year. “Do you not say, “There are yet four months, then comes the harvest? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest,” we are told in John 4:35.
This Chinese New Year, it’s time for us to lift up our eyes and see that the harvest is right in our backyard. Or more likely sitting in your living room, helping themselves to bak kwa and groundnuts.
Instead of running away from conversations, it is time for us to embrace them. Chinese New Year is a great time to tell people about Christ. It is a time when we have our annual gatherings with relatives and friends we do not often see. They’re a captive audience until their parents say it’s time to leave! Who knows if we will see them again next year?
So, instead of complaining on social media how CNY conversations are superficial, it’s time for us to be proactive, to go beyond superficial conversations and ask more intentional questions.
We all like new things, new clothes, new shoes – even the opportunity to start new New Year resolutions. Chinese New Year signifies a new beginning. And what new beginning would be better than offering the gift of salvation to your relatives?