Sharing the true meaning of Christmas

Merry Christmas, Brunswick County!

How grateful we have been to have lights and red ribbons and snowmen and giant nutcrackers and little snowy villages and decorated trees popping up all over our neighborhood. After 9 months of worsening news, deaths, disease, and unwanted change, being able to go back and relive the joyful holiday feelings and wonder we had as children, every time we drive down Twin Ponds Road, does our hearts good.

And the greatest thing to think about during this season, is the baby. The very special baby. Who was, as the angels said to the shepherds over 2000 years ago, a Savior, “Who is Christ the Lord!”

One of our long distance assignments in Japan is to work with about 40 wonderful, young, full-time, non-paid volunteer Church missionaries in their early to late 20's. Most of them are Japanese citizens who were raised in the Japanese culture. About a tenth of them did not know anything about Jesus Christ until just a few years ago.

Cindy and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with them, speaking with many of them every day, as they make short videos about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the influence that the words of prophets have had in their lives. They share these movies on Facebook, Instagram, and an App that seems to be exclusive to Japan called Line. The young volunteers then spend a portion of each day chatting with strangers soon to be friends who respond on these Social Media platforms.

With the Christmas Season approaching, we had counseled together about making videos that explain the true meaning of Christmas.

Japanese people, who know almost nothing about the Lord, love decorating trees, Santa, giving gifts, singing the folksy songs of the season, and always having the traditional Christmas Cake.

“What Christmas Cake?” we asked.

“You know, the big cake you always eat for the Christmas Party.”

“ Do you mean pie?”

They did not mean pie.

We are not sure where the cake thing came from.

Anyway, when the average Japanese citizen is asked about the true meaning of Christmas, they are confused.

They simply do not think of Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus and the lambs and the Wise Men and Herod, and Elizabeth, and Angels.

Well, not yet!

Our young friends are doing a great job getting the message out! We pray for them a lot.

Part of our assignment is to review the English translations that are posted along with the videos or pictures.

These delightful young people, many of whom studied English all through Junior High and High School, submit some very interesting translations. They remind us of some instructions that you receive with off brand electronic items from China.

And I'm sure that the good people of Japan laugh at Cindy and my attempts to write in Japanese.

What is amazing is that even with poor grammar and word order, the message comes through loud and clear.

It's like a child's drawing of the Nativity. The heads are all too big and the donkey looks more like a walrus and the angel could be mistaken for a swan but, because you know what the message is, the Holy Spirit witnesses that, truly, the Son of God came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect life, and then suffered and died for each one of us.

The rest, the ribbons and the glitter and the not-to-be-forgotten Christmas Cake, should always be just another reminder of Him.

The Babe of Bethlehem.

The Lamb of God.

The Author and Finisher of our Faith.

The Light and Life of the World.

The greatest friend of every Brunswickian.

Jesus.

めーりくりすます。

PS: Please pray for the people in Japan. They need to know the reason for the hope that is in us.

PPS: Recipe for the traditional Christmas Cake... go to Japan on December 24. Buy a cake. The end.