Friday, December 29, 2006

December blessings

What a wild month this has been. The customary preparations for Christmas as always took up a chunk of my schedule, but then, I’ve made peace with it a long time ago. As much as I yearn for a quiet month of Advent reflection with family (and preferably away from home) my present circumstances make that pretty impossible. That’s not necessarily a burden; there’s much to be thankful for inspite of a demanding workload. The joy of Christmas, the universal appeal of its carols, the air of festivity (somewhat sadly diminished in recent years in Malaysia), the incredible thot of “God in flesh appearing” and its accompanying message of peace and hope and salvation – who can resist? So how did December come and go so quickly?

2 December Annual Thanksgiving Night: Both congregations came together to praise God for His faithfulness. We don't always get together so it's always something to look forward to when it happens. Had to help Ethan put together a slide presentation for the evening. What a history! I was much humbled by Mdm Mary Au-yong who came out to thank the Lord. The lady who is in her late 70s has had an eventful life. She was recently granted welfare status by Bandaraya and a monthly stipend. Speaking in Cantonese, she named individuals who stood by her in her time of need, and even drove her all the way to meet relatives in Ipoh. Since then she has faithfully brought fruits for refreshment during Worship, and never stops to say how grateful she is to the Lord to anyone who asks about her health. She may not have much compared to so many of us, but she certainly knows how to show her gratitude with what little she has.

3 December: We screened L’Enfant as part of our Prima Film Club programme. Internationally acclaimed Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are 2 brothers who have consistently made brilliant movies. They struck gold again with this thoughtful meditation on loss and hope in postmodern Europe. Beautiful, unpretentious, and provocative. In a land of plenty, how much is a baby worth? L’Enfant won the Dardenne brothers the Palm d’Or at Cannes Festival 2005.

14-17 December:
Elliot’s debut as cellist in the newly formed KLPac Sinfonietta’s Christmas production ‘Candlelight Christmas’ made for a delightful family outing. Proud Mom (see pix) made sure the word got out and volunteered to buy tickets for everyone. After all, she had been chauffeuring Elliot back and forth to KLPac for close to 2 months of rehearsals (not to mention performance nights as well) after he got the audition. Conductor Brian Tan did well with enthusiastic flair while the La Voce Choir added even more life to the proceedings. Heads turned as the lights dimmed and the young singers trooped down the steps onto the stage, each child with candle in hand. Fantastic harmony unfortunately terribly let down by their poor enunciation. The performances were nevertheless a fantastic effort and everyone put on a great show!

22 December: Another International Night. Nearly 30 students joined our CG members for a Christmas Party that Friday. Except for 2 from Yemen, the rest were Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese. There was no room at the inn for Joseph and Mary on that first Christmas, so sharing Christmas cheer by opening our home to others is a way to exercise hospitality and kindness to ‘strangers.’ All in we had over 40 people for an informal evening of food, fun, and laughter. Oh yes, the obligatory turkey was there, purchased the day before from EuroDeli.

24 December Worship Service: I’m really glad at the initiative shown by our youths who put up some fine performances that morning. Christmas always draws crowds and it’s hard not to be caught up in the rush. You hear of mega preparations going on in megachurches 6 months before and the stress folks must go through every year. So I wonder. “Jesus is the reason for the season” but who’d want to be the wet blanket and insist on quiet worship minus all the song and dance? We aren’t a big church, but our folks go thru the wringer too all the same - because we want to (?) or need to (?) Hmm. Then again what’s a celebration without some seriously joyful display of exhilaration? Read more at Journey of Hope.

25 December Hari Amal: Now that was nerve-racking. But thank God things went incredibly well at our community service event. We don’t want it to be a flash-in-the-pan or once-a-year thing and my prayer is that the last 3 or 4 years of fellowship culminating in this biggy will open more doors for us to do good. It may be possible to choose where in the neighbourhood you want to locate your church premises, but we can’t choose our neighbours I think. And our neighbours are the ones who are in need.

29 December: Tonight, old friends (various schools and churches ) from Alor Star get together at a friend’s new home in Mutiara Damansara. Heard Bishop Hwa Yung will be there, so that’s going to be real interesting. He was our school chemistry teacher back then, and this evening is going to be one long walk down memory’s lane.