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Scripture Memory: The Beginning & the End.

VERSE : Revelation 22:13 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

22 January 2017

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Colin Wong (Who Can Reveal the Secret Things of God? Dan 2:1-30)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (When We Are On God’s Side, Psalm 4)

29 January 2017

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Peter Chng (All Is Well, Joshua 1:1-9)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Charles Seet (The Stupidity of Fighting God, Psalm 2)

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CELEBRATING CHINESE NEW YEAR (Part 1)

By Elder Ng Beng Kiong

This Saturday we will be ushering in the first day of the Chinese or Lunar New Year, and according to the Chinese Zodiac, the first day of the Year of the Rooster. Chinese New Year is also known as “chun jie” or “spring festival” as it signals the arrival of spring. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is celebrated over a period of 15 days starting from the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

There are many variations of the legend of how Chinese New Year originated. One version describes a tale of a ferocious beast known as “Nian” who terrorized villagers on Chinese New Year’s Eve at night. The villagers lived in fear and dreaded Chinese New Year’s eve. Then, an old man said that the beast feared loud noises and the colour “red”. Hence, before its arrival on the eve, people would put up red paper on their doors and windows and when it comes, all would start to hit drums, and light fire crackers to scare the beast away. Indeed the plan worked and from then on, “Nian” did not appear anymore. Hence, the beginning of red paper decorations, lighting of fire crackers and lion dances, etc.

Chinese New Year is probably the most important, elaborate and colourful of all the Chinese festivals. It symbolizes the beginning of a new year, and for the Chinese, a signal to a fresh start with new hopes for happiness and prosperity. Shooting off firecrackers on Chinese New Year’s Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. It is also a time for renewing family relationships through reunion dinners and visits between relatives and friends.

While the festive mood is in the air, Chinese Christians in non-Christian homes often face the dilemma of what they can do or cannot do during Chinese New Year. For those who have been delivered from the idolatry of the past we know that Chinese New Year celebration has a history steeped in the worship of idols and superstitious and pagan practices where the Chinese hope to usher in good luck and prosperity for the coming year. How should a Christian celebrate Chinese New Year? How much of a breaking off from these old practices should we make?

Traditional Celebrations of CNY

As with all Chinese festivals, there are customs, traditions and superstitions attached to the celebration of this festive occasion. Preparations for the Chinese New Year begin as early as one month before the festival.

It is customary for the Chinese families to do a general spring cleaning of their homes to make sure that the house is spick and span for the New Year. All brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans, etc. are put away, and sweeping or dusting should not be done on Chinese New Year’s Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away. Everyone is busy preparing for Chinese New Year, including going to the barber and getting his hair cut for the New Year. The last day of the old year is also the time to settle debts. All debts had to be paid by this time.

Tradition stipulates that all food be prepared before the New Year’s Day, so that all sharp instruments, such as knives and scissors, should be put away to avoid cutting the “luck” of the new year. In the hope of obtaining good fortune in the coming year, some families make it a point to put up chun lian (spring couplets). Doors and windows would be decorated with paper couplets with verses such as “Gong Xi Fa Cai”, “Wan Shi Ru Yi”, “Long Ma Jing Shen”, etc.

Chinese New Year’s Eve begins with a reunion dinner, where family members gather together usually at our parents’ place. The reunion dinner is among the most important family occasions of the year. The meal is sumptuous and we celebrate it by having a steamboat and lots of good food. A good feast signifies abundance and prosperity. We usually will have the Chinese cake called “Nian Gao” as it means “Nian Nian Bu Bu Gao Sheng”.

After the reunion dinner, the whole family will sit up for the night watching TV, play cards/board games. On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, has to be opened to allow the old year to go out and to usher in the new. This is followed by a religious ceremony given in honor of the god of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors.

Traditionally, the Chinese New Year is welcomed with lion dances and parades (chinggay). And everyone puts on new clothes and his best behavior. Red clothing is preferred during this festive occasion. We also should only speak good words and cannot break anything on the first day because it is “bad luck” for the rest of the year. Everyone should refrain from using bad or unlucky words – “ssu” or “si”.

What are some of the symbols and rituals that we use for our Chinese New Year celebration? We have oranges which symbolize gold, the colour red that we see all over such as our clothes, “Ang Pows” which symbolize prosperity, good health, success and therefore happiness. Some even hang paper pineapples in their homes. Why? Because in Chinese, pineapple is called “Ong Lai”, and this means “may good luck come to our homes” (hence, pineapple tarts). In Chinese New Year cards too, we see lots of pictures of gold bars, again to wish people prosperity and wealth.

During Chinese New Year, parents and other relatives distribute hong bao to the family’s unmarried children as a gesture of good fortune. Starting from the second day of Chinese New Year, people began going out to visit friends and relatives. They also visit the temples to pray for good fortune and health. A must-try is the truly Singaporean dish of Prosperity Yu Sheng, comprising raw fish slices tossed with shredded vegetables and a generous serving of auspicious wishes for the New Year.

With the passage of time, Chinese New Year has been secularized and many traditional forms of celebration have now been replaced by modern forms, including, (i) gambling - at home, Toto, 4D, horse-racing, and (ii) eating, drinking, merry-making, etc.

You will realize that there are many superstitions and pagan beliefs associated with the celebration of Chinese New Year – the emphasis on good luck or fortune, and material prosperity and success. Understanding all these is essential for Christians so that we may know those customs and rites which contradict biblical teaching and should not be followed, those which are neutral and may be tolerated, and those which express propriety and filial piety which should be taught and preserved.

Reconciling Chinese Culture and Christian Teachings

Our present culture is a mixture of various religious beliefs, ancient traditions and customs that makes it difficult for us as Christians to embrace it fully and unreservedly. As Chinese, we should seek to understand, appreciate and maintain certain aspects of our traditional culture. To reject and deny everything Chinese would impoverish us and simply reinforce the view that Christianity is the religion of the West. It is important to realize that we are called to live our Christian faith to the fullest, while maintaining the fact that we come from an ethnic group with a long and rich heritage.

There is much in our Chinese culture which is good and promotes good virtues (filial piety, respect, etc). There is much which is morally neutral and therefore to be followed with wisdom (e.g. greetings, angpows). But there is also much which is evil, which contradicts God’s Word, and is to be avoided (superstitions and emphasis on good luck). The struggle for Christians, therefore, lies in how we are to maintain an active appreciation of our cultural heritage without compromising our faith.    (To be continued)

 

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Missions Seminar - White Unto Harvest

     Venue:   Beulah Multi-Purpose Hall

     Date:      Saturday 1 April 2017

     Time:     3 - 5.45pm (Dinner at 6pm)

    Please register at:  http://lifebpc.com/missions-seminar

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Combined Lunar New Year Service (Bilingual)

28 Jan 17 (Sat), 9.00 am. Beulah MPH

“Peace be with your Going Out and Coming In” (Psalm 121)

Speaker: Rev Peter Chng

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1) The position of Church Operations Manager is still vacant. If you are a member of the church and feel led of God to serve in that role in the church office, please write in to Pastor Charles Seet with your detailed resume.

2) Far Eastern Kindergarten Online Registration.

2018 Intake: Pre-Nursery (YOB 2015) & Nursery (YOB 2014)

Priority registration for church members: 1 February to 14 February 2017. Register online at http://fek.qoqolo.com/cos/o.x?c=/ca4q_fek/registration It will be on a first-come-first-serve basis after 14 February 2017. Please visit our website http://www.lifebpc.com/fekedu/ or call 6251 3676 for more information.

3) Hongbaos printed by Life Church are available at the front counter for use during the Lunar New Year Season.

4) Nominations for Election of Session Members, 2017-2020. Nominations will close on 5 Feb 17. Nomination forms will be available from the Reception Counter on Sundays, and from the Church Office on weekdays.

5) Membership Roll Update Exercise: If you are a member of Life B-P Church, please fill the form and put it in the box at the church entrance.

6) Life BP Church Camp 2017 will be held from June 12-15 (Mon-Thu) at Batam Holiday Inn Resort. Do book your annual leave now to join us for a blessed time of fellowship, and exhortations from God’s Word.

7) Family Seminar 2016 recordings: Those who have ordered, please come personally to collect the recordings at the RTL Office (next to Cry Room 1) after worship service.

 

Preaching appt: Rev Khoo at Chinese BSF, 7.00 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25