Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 I stood in front of the small Christmas tree with blinking lights. My mum brought us along to visit a Catholic family. I was asked to pick up a present from a pile stacked up at the foot of the tree. Having grown up in a family which is foreign to anything Christian, it was all very strange and new. That was the first impression I had as a young boy. Christmas was about love, home and giving. At 13, I became a Christian. Christmas was now an inside experience. Street and house carolling by candle lights was an in-thing then. We will start singing as we walked slowly to the home that had invited us. We filled the neighbourhood with carols. And far as I can remember, I have never missed a Christmas Eve Service. The carols, sung consistently year after year, left yearly memories as I grew in my teenage years. My experience of Christmas changed when I first came to Singapore for my studies. I was away from home and church. Standing alone one evening on the balcony of my hostel, I heard Bing Crosby crooned I’ll be home for Christmas with blinking ferry lights synced to it. I realised that it is hard to celebrate Christmas without family and close friends. This should not come as a surprise. The first Christmas was about a family of three, soon to be joined by others as well. Jesus was not born to an unknown family. He did not appear as a hermit. He came as a child, a son - with a family in tow. Christmas was about family. It is about God calling us home. As a foreign student, it was now another Singaporean Church - an Anglican one - which became a home and family for me. Yes, I had many warm and wonderful memories of Christmas in my years at St John's St Margaret's Church. By then, street carolling was less in vogue. There were musicals and performances on Orchard Road and in shopping centres. While participating in one of these events, I began to notice this student called Jennifer Loh. That finally led to our courtship and wedding in 1993. One should never underestimate the power of culture and Christian festivals. Many in the world can connect well with Christmas. Love, home and giving - how could anyone disagree with that?
So, we look forward to celebrating this Christmas with our MPCC family. We also have some who will be away from home this Christmas. Spare a thought and share your Christmas with them as well.