Words by our Priest-in-Charge:
“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?” Luke 11:11
I attended a Church service in Plymouth last Sunday, while visiting my auntie and uncle. It was a unique time of worship, where the whole service is a continuous combination of drama, songs (where the congregation sang), message and prayers. As last Sunday was the start of the Advent season, the central message of the worship was on what Christmas really means and what we have turned it into – buying and giving gifts. It struck me the most is that Christmas is about enjoying God’s Gift, worshipping Him and appreciating His grace and love. The drama was about a boy asking for an expensive gift which the father could not afford, and had to make sacrifices to have enough money, amidst a lean economy climate, to buy this gift for his son. But when the father reached the store, to his great disappointment, he was told that the price has just gone up! He was so desperate and said, “If I don’t get this toy, Christmas is ruined!” The drama ended there with this statement (along with a lot of “drama”, of course). The message is, “Is Christmas really ruined just because someone has not enough money to buy an expensive gift?” The answer is obvious.
Very often, the world seems to suggest to us, or rather “magnify” the need of buying things to give significance to Christmas. I am sure giving and receiving gifts is a good way of blessing others and a way of expressing our gratitude and thanksgiving to the Father and to others, but it should never be our focus during Christmas season. Although Christmas is so meaningful, the devil wants to turn it into something of a show. Today’s Bible quotation draws my attention to another instance in the gospel which involves “bread” and “stone”. Jesus was tempted by the devil to turn stone into bread. (Matthew 4:3,4) In Jesus’ answer to the devil, it clearly tells us that is not the point. The devil was challenging Jesus to be independent from God, by using His God given power to do something to satisfy His own need. It sounds legitimate. But the point Jesus was making is that we should not use God’s power in an unauthorized way. God’s will must be fulfilled God’s way. If we need bread, we need only to ask the Father! If we have any need, we could depend on the Father to satisfy those needs. We are meant to live a God-dependent life. The moment we turn in to independence from God and self reliance, we depart from God’s way. That is when we would miss the real thing that God wants us to know, to have and to experience.
The spirit of this world tells us that we must make Christmas meaningful. The Spirit of God is saying – ask from the Father, that we might experience and enjoy the inherent meaning of the Birth of Jesus. Ask for bread. We don’t need to turn stone into bread.