Burning issues

Today marks the first year that I have wilfully NOT visited the family temple and graves, for ancestor worship and burning paper money.
Last year I thought I’d tag along just to help clean up the weeds and sweep away the dirt on my great-grandparents’ graves. However I soon realised that everyone who was going was also expected to help burn paper money. On the way to the cemetery I started having second thoughts, and prayed silently for God to forgive me for whatever I had to do.
We nearly lost our way, and when we turned into a small lane leading to the graves, we found our path blocked by a huge rubbish container. So we made three right turns to get to the other side.
Just as we stepped out of the car, it poured suddenly. Stubbornly, my relatives tried to set fire to the paper, sheltering each bundle with our umbrellas. A few bundles started to catch fire, but most were put out by the rain. One clump of burning money got swept up by the wind, and landed smack on top of my left hand! I panicked and shook it off. Surprisingly I wasn’t burnt or marked at all.
The graves visit last year was, in short, a washout. After that, I swore never to do anything related to ancestor worship again. Amen!
As Christians who are also Chinese, we face certain conflicts between tradition and religion. Also, when we refrain from performing certain rites, we risk alienating or prejudicing other people as well (though of course it is not the affairs of the World we ought to be concerned about). Where do we draw the line?
Now I am reading through a book, titled ‘A biblical approach to Chinese traditions and beliefs’. Written by Daniel Tong, an Anglican priest in Singapore, it addresses issues I’ve started to become more aware of ever since I decided to believe in Jesus. The book offers alternative approaches for grey areas, but in obvious cases which would result in us undermining our faith, we still have to resist it and not be afraid.

Comments

  1. Van Heng

    As a Catholic, I face similar issues, but I’ve spoken to priests and some family friends who know more about such matters than I do, and I’ve been told that while ancestor worship may seem to go against what Christianity instructs us, the practice can be seen as paying respect to deceased elders. If, in your heart, you know that you aren’t worshipping them, that you are paying your respects to them, and respecting the wishes of your family members who aren’t Christians, well, God can tell the difference.

  2. Esther

    Hi! πŸ™‚ I’m a Christian who’s a Chinese too and coming from a family of non-believers, it’s hard to draw the line, I’d agree. I also bought the book by Daniel Tong and it’s provided an insight into this issue. πŸ™‚ Guess we always have to remember that it is God that we have to please. πŸ™‚ While we are at that, we have to be mindful of how we act towards our non-believing friends and family so we don’t become a stumbling block to them. πŸ™‚ Keep going for God is always with you. πŸ™‚ God bless. πŸ™‚

  3. Esther

    Hi! πŸ™‚ I’m a Christian who’s a Chinese too and coming from a family of non-believers, it’s hard to draw the line, I’d agree. I also bought the book by Daniel Tong and it’s provided an insight into this issue. πŸ™‚ Guess we always have to remember that it is God that we have to please. πŸ™‚ While we are at that, we have to be mindful of how we act towards our non-believing friends and family so we don’t become a stumbling block to them. πŸ™‚ Keep going for God is always with you. πŸ™‚ God bless. πŸ™‚

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