Once a year, the Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival provides a great opportunity for Skyline Mandarin (SM) to reach out to the pre-believing community. While the origins of the festival is pagan, it has been diluted by tradition over the years to become a time mainly for family gatherings, to gaze at the full moon, to eat mooncakes, and for kids to light up lanterns. There are, of course, still people who pray to the moon, but since man did not find any fairy goddess there, this practice has largely declined. It is also a time of thanksgiving for harvest in the countryside of China, like our harvest festivals here, so it’s a good time to gather people for a
celebration meal and use it as an opportunity for the Gospel.
In so doing, we don’t celebrate the religious parts of the pagan festival. We tap on the family, food, and festive part of the occasion to invite friends for a meal. Mooncakes have also lost their religious significance. Some traditions say the festival is celebrated to remember a time when mooncakes were used to smuggle secret notes for a Han uprising during the time of the Mongols. So giving it or eating it today has no religious significance. When we use it as an excuse to invite friends, they readily come.
Did the early Christians use pagan festivals to infuse the Gospel? Yes. Christmas is one example. Dec 25th was part of the weeklong first century Roman pagan festival called “Saturnalia” which celebrated the winter solstice with drunkenness and immorality. In the fourth century AD, the Church adopted it to celebrate the birthday of Christ and converted large numbers of pagans. Jesus Himself also used feasts such as the Feast of Tabernacles, to proclaim Himself as the Living Water
(John 7:37-38). So each year, we redeem the Mid-Autumn Festival for the Gospel. This year, it will be on September 22nd. Invite friends and pray with us for a great harvest!
2017 YEAR OF OVERFLOWING LIFE
Ps Dr Philip Lyn 医生牧师