Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

On the fourth week of advent, a preacher mentioned in his preaching, “I am sure God is very proud of his people in Indonesia. Why? Because we still can celebrate Christmas despite all the calamities we all experience in Indonesia. We give our best to celebrate Jesus’ birth. For example, our church’s budget for Christmas celebration is 45 millions rupiah (around US$ 4,500. In Indonesia, we can have a simple meal with rice, meat, vegetables, and drink for US$ 1). It is not a small amount of money. There are hundreds churches in Indonesia. Can you imagine how much Christians are willing to spend for celebrating Christmas? It must be billions! This is incredible!”

I heard the preacher saying this in a worship service in a quite big church. He obviously thinks that one of the reasons which makes Christmas celebrations incredible and blessed is because Christians are willing to spend so much money despite the calamities in Indonesia. I think in a totally different way. In my opinion, the big amount of money spent for the Christmas celebrations or the willingness to spend so much money do not make God proud of Christians at all. Amos 5:21-24 confirms this, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Christmas is not merely a celebration. It is mainly about giving. As God has given his Best to incarnate in the first Christmas in order to save us, Christmas should always remind us to give our best to serve others, to pass God’s love on to people in need. In Indonesia context this year, I think it is not appropriate to have a huge Christmas celebration. It is even better if Christians do not celebrate Christmas at all. Or may be it is more accurate to say that Christians should celebrate Christmas in a different way. US$ 4,500, the approximate amount I assume one church allocate for Christmas celebration, can feed 4.500 flood refugees for one simple meal! Can you imagine how many refugees can the churches in Indonesia feed? Unfortunately, there is just a small group of churches which has this sense of crisis.

There was a UN Conference for Climate Change in Bali recently. To my shame, Indonesia is “awarded” the fastest forest destroyer. I think the Indonesian churches also indirectly contribute to the destruction of the forests by cutting pine trees for Christmas trees. Why do we need to cut so many trees for a one-day-celebration and worsen the global warming? Without any Christmas trees, Christmas is still a Christmas. Without any celebrations, Christmas is still a Christmas. But without caring for those who are in need, Christmas is not a Christmas. Without showing any concerns to what is happening in the world and doing something to make the world a better place, Christmas is not a Christmas. Again, Christmas is all about giving. Merry Christmas! May our Christmas celebrations be blessed and be a blessing, not a curse, to others!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Thought from Asian Idol

Last night the first Asian Idol was chosen by voting. It was one of the worst nights in my life! Well, as said by a sister, I was very enthusiastic (probably too enthusiastic according to her ^_^) about this event because I was a music maniac! To my (to all the judges’ also, I am sure!!!) surprise, the unexpected winner was chosen! Sigh…

For Hady Mirza’s fans, I am sorry to say that he doesn’t deserve to be the first Asian Idol. A sister of mine from Singapore, where Mirza is from, also admits it. If we really consider their singing and entertaining ability, only three persons deserve to be the one: Mike (Indonesia), Mau (Philippines), and Jaclyn (Malaysia). After the show ended, I messaged my girlfriend and that sister to express my disappointment. That sister’s reply was this: “Again it’s a generation that focuses on the looks lah…” She was right! I also told her that most of the voters must be girls and only consider Mirza’s appearance.

Well, yes, but I think it is not just this generation which focuses on the looks. This is human’s tendency for all time. We do not only judge others by their appearances, but also value ourselves based on what is outside. We tend to care only about our outward appearances, not what is deep inside our hearts. When we do good deeds for others, what does actually drive us? Is it love or a hidden agenda or what? When we do our “spiritual activities”, what is our motive? Are we sincere? Or we just want to feel and look good?

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23