Today was my first visit to a Chinatown. I was surrounded by people who looked different from me, talked in a musical language I didn’t understand, and centered their lives around a different set of values. The shops may have been set up with recognisable aisles, the currency the same as the chocolate shop down the street, but I had the sense of being in a different people’s town, and tiptoed down the blocks to not step on their toes. I know that I’m welcomed and the stores appreciate my business. But I got a taste of what it feels like to be the stranger in a new country.
They had a celebration today, celebrating the Equinox, I think. Each shop hung lettuce and red envelopes of money over their doorway. Older gentlemen and ladies in gray suits presided as young men in costume stood under the Chinese dragon/lion heads and bodies. It was impressive how expressive the dance was as the black lion and yellow/white lion pranced or leapt to each doorway, ripped up the lettuce and accepted the money in time with drums and a gong.
This is a ceremony for blessing the shops. There is so much I do not understand about this culture. I know that God is not limited to American-style worship, but I do not know what that would look like for the Chinese, who have such a rich culture of ceremonies. I’m curious how Chinese believers worship Him through their culture. How do you separate Christianity from your own preconceptions and ideas to share that with others? I’m praying to learn that as time goes on.
“11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:11-14).
God, thank You for the beauty of culture, specifically the Chinese culture. Please help me to learn the beauty of variety, and not press my views as best, but share Your love that crosses so many cultures with the people I meet. To the glory of Your name, amen.