TIS THE SEASON
Yes, but WHAT season? Why, Christmas, of course!
What’s that? You say it’s not Christmas season yet? Well, in the Philippines it is. Why, just yesterday we heard the traditional Philippine carol “Frosty the Snowman” playing at our one-and-only Puerto Princesa City department store. Flashing lights, Santa, holly boughs (fake, of course), all all the other very untropical trappings were in full regalia. And if that’s not Christmas, then what is?
But… but… it’s September?!! Good point. I hear you. But you see, in the Philippines, they say that Christmas starts with the “Ber Ber” months (September… October… November… and December). But then, they hate to stop a party too soon here, so it spills into January, too. Yeah, do the math. That only leave seven months when it’s not Christmas here.
THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
Of course, it’s a little sad to see all the Western commercial trappings (not to mention the snow man and sleigh ride songs) taking over centuries-old Philippine Christmas traditions. But we know that Christmas isn’t all about food and songs and decorations. Christmas isn’t about the celebration… it’s about the what and the whom. It’s about the Lord Jesus, the reason we celebrate.
We often hear the world talking about the “real meaning” of Christmas. They speak of “love” and “giving” and “family.” Those are good things, but they aren’t the “meaning” of Christmas. Those are the reasons one speaks of when they don’t want to admit that Christmas is about Christ.
Even those who mention Christ often get it wrong. I remember our first Christmas in the Philippines when I first heard the song, “Man Shall Live Forevermore Because of Christmas Day.” Sounds good, but it’s not right! People don’t mind so much focusing on the baby in the manger, peace, “good will to man,” and all that. But they have more trouble with Calvary.
God sent his Son… the cuddly baby… a gift of love. Easy to take. God’s Son had to die… because we are sinful? Hmmm… that require repentance and highlights issues that mankind often doesn’t want to acknowledge.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
All this struck me in particular, since just before coming out to town I was drafting the early chapters of Luke, which include the Christmas story.
Soon that story will be fully translated, checked and in the hands of the Palawanos. We’re excited about that. And of course the book of Luke takes the story all the way to the cross… and beyond, to the resurrection. From the happy story of the nativity to the harsh reality of Calvary and on to the victory of the risen Christ and our hope.
And translating 1 Peter recently was also very moving to me. Christ died… the righteous for the unrighteous.
God’s grace shines through with such power. And that’s enough to make you merry, even on Labor Day.
Keep praying with us as we labor to see more of God’s Word in the Palawano language, and for more of the Palawanos to understand the real reason for the Christmas season.