On a practical level, let’s jump right into what COVID-19 means for Chinese New Year (CNY).
We know about the safe management measures that the Government has put in place, but there are a few that really seem to cramp our CNY style this year.
Masks must be worn during the tossing of the yusheng. And to make it even more awkward, it’s to be done without any shouting or repetition of the usual auspicious phrases.
We’re only supposed to visit family too, and not more than two households at that. On the surface, CNY sounds kind of lame. But does it necessarily have to be the case? I don’t think so.
I believe there’s a rare closeness to be had in the small and intimate settings we will find ourselves in this year – and we’ll be loath to waste it if we want to share God’s love with our families.
HOW ABOUT SOME LOHEI TRIVIA?
There’s no getting around it – lohei-ing in silence is going to make things feel a little different around the reunion table this year.
But, for the first time in decades, you’ll now likely be able to have a conversation without having to shout over your Auntie Karen or Uncle Roger.
If we’re intentional, this opens up an opportunity for us to have meaningful conversations with our relatives.
Take for example those auspicious phrases we throw out every CNY – you might ask your relatives what they really understand of them.
青春常驻 (qing chun chang zhu for the pinyin gang), for instance, refers to the idea of staying youthful forever.
You could ask Auntie Karen what she thinks “forever” means. That can open up pathways into talking about deeper things like eternal life.
遍地黄金 (pian di huang jin) is also a good one. While most people wish for riches that overflow and fill the floor, it remains but a wish.
What if you mentioned there’s a better reality waiting for God’s children – a future home with streets that are paved with gold?
HOW ABOUT SOME HONEST CONVERSATIONS?
I’m willing to guarantee you’ll hear this phrase pop up in polite conversation at least once.
“So different hor, this year?”
It’s actually a perfect conversation starter. And as you and your (considerably fewer) cousins sit around the house, forced to reckon with a changing world right where you are, you can begin guiding the conversation.
For instance, encourage your family members to think about how the world and their lives have changed in recent times. What else is different?
You might end up learning that Uncle Roger’s going through some health problems. Or maybe Auntie Karen’s facing anxiety.
That would then open up doors for you to pray for them, or begin journeying with them and supporting them as the year progresses.
And as you talk through a lot of the negative stuff that, no doubt, many of us would all have faced in the last year or so, you’ll begin to be able to point them to hope.
Take your time in your conversations as you hear from your loved ones.
I’m not talking about blind optimism, but sharing the reasons for our hope. Light and love are what everyone could do with more in this difficult period.
And while you’re at it, how about sharing one thing that you’re thankful for?
Point is, take your time in your conversations as you hear from your loved ones. Build trust and earn the right to speak into their lives and talk about deeper things.
HOW ABOUT SOMETHING BETTER THAN ANGBAO?
We say it every year when seasons like this roll around, but I really hope we make the most of CNY 2021 for God’s glory.
Whether it’s Auntie Karen, Uncle Roger or your quiet cousin – God can use us to touch and bless their lives with a gift that’s better than any angbao.
So unless you’ve managed to spend every single day bringing God’s light and love to those around you (I wish we all could), special seasons are great to be intentional and fire up connections with loved ones once again.
Only don’t do it for the sake of doing it. Do it because of God’s love and His commands. Do it with a journey in mind, and be willing to walk it through.
From all of us at Thir.st to you, have a Blessed New Year. 🙂
- What can you look forward to this Chinese New Year?
- How can you be more intentional about sharing hope and love this season?
- Have you ever tried writing out a 1-minute testimony? What would you say in it?