Volume. XXIX, No. 24
Sunday, 14 December 2014


The True Meaning of Christmas


In a few days’ time, it will be Christmas Day and it is a public holiday in Australia. It is a day when many people will eat, drink, party, exchange gifts and have a lazy day.  The country highways and freeways will see less than usual traffic in the morning till mid-afternoon as people are most likely consumed with this festivity. Another reason is that many people are too drunk to drive after consuming huge quantities of alcohol on the night before. Some may still be asleep after staying up all night following midnight mass (for the Roman Catholics and Anglicans) and partying. There are people who will work on that day – taxi drivers, doctors, nurses, para-medics, bus and train drivers, restaurateurs, airline pilots, and those on essential services such as workers in electricity, gas and water utilities, and of course, the defence force. These people will be rewarded with very attractive penalty rates in their pay packets.

 

In Australia, the first Christmas was celebrated in 1788, at Sydney Cove, by Reverend Johnson. “For those interested, the first official Christmas DownUnder was celebrated on the 25th December, 1788 at Sydney Cove by Reverend Johnson. After the service, Governor Arthur Phillips and his officers dined heartily, toasting King George lll and his family. But for the majority of the first white inhabitants...the convicts.... there was no change to their regular menu... bread rations only. The only goodwill which seemed to have been displayed was to Michael Dennison. He was a convict who stole a pound of flour from Martha Pugh. He was sentenced to 200 lashes by the whip. But since it was Christmas, only 150 were delivered.” (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/AUS-PT-JACKSON-CONVICTS/2001-12/1009242622). The first Christmas in Australia was celebrated by the British Governor and his officers, and the convicts.

 

For many years, Australians celebrated Christmas with their focus on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. When I first arrived in Australia in 1971, I could hear Christmas carols being played frequently in shopping centres and radios in the weeks before Christmas. Many Australians were attending church services every Sunday, and I remember that there were no bus services in Adelaide on Sunday morning except on routes leading to churches. Over the last 25 – 30 years Christmas carols are not played as often as it was back when I first arrived. Santa Claus is now more important than the birth of our Lord Jesus, and consumerism has taken over. People are now buying gifts with borrowed money, that is, on credit card and leading themselves to mounting debt which they have difficulty paying come January or February the next year. In fact, the Christmas period, for many, is a time of difficulty and emotional distress. Some go further and attempt to commit suicide, with some succeeding. Australia is getting godless year by year. Many churches are now almost empty every Lord’s Day. Without new migrants, many of these churches will be empty. The Australians who attend these churches are old, and the young ones in the majority are migrants! It is a tragedy that Australians are leaving the True God for other eastern religions and philosophy while people in Asian and African countries are turning to the Lord Jesus. Back 1,400 years ago, the majority of the entire Middle East was Christian. These included present-day Iraq, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and Iran to name a few. After 632 AD all these Christian countries became Islamic and the dark veil fell upon them. There are now so many Muslims who are lost to eternity. It is a fact that Muslims are very resistant to the Gospel. Thank God, there are many Muslims who have come to our Lord Jesus and some even serving as missionaries to the Muslims.

 

God has blessed Australia in many ways. It was once called “The Lucky Country” but I believe there are people who now dispute this classification. Is Australia heading in the same way as these previous Christian Middle East countries? I pray and hope not.

 

As believers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have a duty. That duty is to remain faithful to our Lord, and to teach the doctrines of our faith to our children, and their children, so that none of them will leave God and the church to pursue other godless philosophies leading them to eternal destruction. We must try our best to ensure that, during this Christmas time, we know what is the meaning of Christmas. We must then tell our children the true meaning of Christmas.

 

What is the meaning of Christmas? It is the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus “6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” (Phil 2:6,7). He came because God the Father loves us. “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16,17). To save us, Christ Jesus had to shed His blood and to die on the cross for us. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22). This is what we have to understand and accept, and pass on to our descendants, and their descendants.

 

Let us rise up from the comfort of our homes and do something for Christ. Be active in your daily Bible reading and meditation. Be involved in church work and the mission field. Come forward to serve Him. Everyday consider this verse “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). Look to Christ Jesus, who is our God and Saviour. On this Christmas Day, let us make a decision to serve Him!

 

God bless!

 

Elder Michael D Lee


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Leader: Today: Bro Raphael Ng. Next Lord’s Day: Volunteer.

*Christmas Carolling this evening, please meet at the Stone Mansion at 4:30 pm. Please refer to notice board for homes to sing carols.

*No Mandarin Bible Study on Fridays till Sis Yashu Qin returns from her overseas trip.

*Christmas gifts (Holy Bible, books, music CDs) & inexpensive cards available at the Church Bookstore.

*Church Service roster for Jan - Mar QTR is now being prepared. Please let Bro Lucas Yiew know of your availability ASAP.

*A Special Christmas Lunch (after service on Christmas Day) is being organised. If able to contribute a dish or two, or drinks, please email or speak to Elder Michael Lee by today.

Praise & Thanksgiving 

1. Journey mercies: Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo & Audrey (USA); Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman (Qld/Adl); Bros Boong Atijatuporn (Thailand) & XiHeng Wu (Fujian); Sisters Shu Ai Cho, Michelle Lee (Adl), & Yashu Qin (Wuhan); & others arriving safely at their destinations.

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

 Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Herbert (Dilly) Anderson (Kenya), Raymond Ang’s father (S’pore), Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law, Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore) & Jason Teng; Sisters Margaret Hooper, Yvone Kam, Myung Ki, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Margaret Pearson, Christabelle Selvanayagam, Iris Surman’s brother, Corinne Teng, Susan Weng, Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing) & May Zhang; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Lucas Lee; Mr Tony Zhang; Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai); & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Sis Yashu Qin’s father (Wuhan, recent head injury & surgery).

3. God’s strength, guidance & provision: Sis Wol Hee Kim & her two daughters (S Korea).

4. Chemotherapy: Sis Queenie Lau (Canberra).

5. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

6. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry; Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh).

7. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry.

8. New Life BPC (London) - strength & encouragement for congregation; Resident Preacher Mok - UK visa application.

9. Providence B-P Church - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation. New location in Jan 2015.

10. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

11. Journey mercies: Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Perth); Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman (Mildura/Adl/NZ); Sisters Lee Lan Chong (Canb), Michelle Ee (S’pore), Yan Mae Kang (Iluru), Lydia Tan (Thailand), & Siew Ling Teh & family; & others travelling.

12. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

13. Believers under persecution in Islamic & Communist countries.

14. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

15. Sis Michelle Ee - returning to S’pore for hospital internship - God’s guidance & direction; spiritual growth.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063