We've been in Lanzhou since Sun night.  Lanzhou is the capitol city of Gansu province, the province where Judah was born.  And abandoned.  Lanzhou was a primary city on the Silk Road, and is home to representative populations from most of China's ethnic groups.  The Silk Road was also an open-door for Buddism and Islam to penetrate this area. 

Sun night when we exited our airplane, and walked into the Lanzhou airport -- we were quite surprised to find it completed packed with Muslims (identified by the white cap that the Muslim men in this area wear).  They were waiting to greet and celebrate with friends/family who we're returning from some type of Muslim pilgramage.  Lanzhou is home to many Buddist temples and Islamic mosques -- there's even an autonimous region in this city where Muslims have certain freedoms from government regulation.  However, according to our guide who lives here, there is no Evangelical presense.  She herself (28) claims no religion.

That said, I have found it interesting to walk into almost any type of business here and see Christmas decorations.  Christmas trees, Santas, bells...you name it.  Oh, and the Christmas music that is usually blaring over the speakers.

But more than interesting, I find it so very sad.  And I've been filled with an angst since we've been here.  There's nothing more sad than to see a copy-cat, pagan celebration of Jesus' birth.  The Christmas decor almost magnifies the darkness.

And even more sad still, is the missed-opportunity that the Western Christian church has had to celebrate and share Christ during this very sacred time of year.  We've, instead, traded the Truth for Santa...and traded God's glory for the glory of ourselves and our children.  And we have taught our practices even to people here in China. 

We've pretended for so long that we, as Believers, can ride the fence...that we can taint our Savior's birth with pagan practices, and yet not deny His renown.  But I see here, now, in this city that we have denied God's renown -- especially as I watch the spiritually-dead hang garland on trees and wear stockings on their heads -- all the while, remaining under God's wrath. 

There's Christmas everywhere, yet no understanding or knowledge of God's redemption and grace, nor His holiness or glory.  As I watch millions upon millions walk around this city, dead in their trespasses, I can't help but feel a deep call to repentance.  And I can't help but wonder if the church were listening, would we hear God calling us to a collective repentance as well.


Abby said...

Such a pertinent reminder and call to us all during this season. Thank you for speaking so clearly to the truth. Am also praising God with you for little Judah.

With thanks for the life we share in Christ,

Abby (in Western North Carolina)

Amy Reneé said...

WOW. Hard to believe I'm gonna be there soon and I can feel your heart so strongly through this. And I agree with every word. Every word. I love your heart. So happy for you and your family! I hope to one day meet yall!

Anonymous said...

love this. can't wait to talk more.

and i cannot believe how big judah has gotten. yeah! hope all is well. missing you guys and praying for you back home. see you soon!


Wes and Laney said...

I so agree with you Alisa! My heart has been heavy with consumerism and over-the-top "it's all about Santa coming to town". I actually posted my thoughts about this and then noticed you had posted something similar. The only difference is that you find your heart heavy in the Eastern world while I find mine heavy in the familiarity of the Western world. Praying today. Wishing you and the family well (by the way, Judah is so cute!).

Rachel said...

we also sensed a very dark oppressive feeling when there especially compared to other areas of China we had been. Our other daughters province was where much of the unground church had started and you could feel that. In many ways there is huge revival going on in China, there are now more born again Christians than registered communist party members - wow. I agree with what you are saying about Christmas and sadly it is not just restricted to China. I am continually challenged to portray the Christ in Christnmas and not get distracted by all the festivities. Loving following your journey - he is adorable.

Deidre said...

Thank you so much for this post. I love your heart and share your pain of Christ no longer being the focus of Christmas. This is the first year that Kendall has really understood Christmas and I feel like I am fighting the culture so strongly to teach her the beautiful Truth of Christmas.

So excited for you guys and loving following your journey in China!!

KLT said...

The Getty/Townend hymn provides words:

Father we have sinned
In word, and deed, and thought,
Through ignorance, through weakness,
Through deliberate fault.
We've sinned against our neighbours
And against You, Lord,
Yet we are truly sorry,
And we turn to You once more.

May we truly open ourselves to him. Thank you for pointing the way.

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