I sit in my living room contemplating advent, thinking about hope and grateful for grace while candle light dances on the wall beside me and Christmas tree lights twinkle in front of me.
From my back window I can hear worship instruments playing their song. From my living room window I hear the sounds of an opera being acted out for the god to enjoy. I hear worship drums being beat in a rhythm unfamiliar to me.
That is I hear these things only when the fireworks and firecrackers have subsided. Since six this morning they have been worshiping all across town. All day long firecrackers have boomed and fireworks whizzed and popped. And, since they echo off the nearby high rise buildings the sound can be overwhelming.
And, from 10-11 this morning and then from about 9-10 tonight they shot fireworks and firecrackers for an hour straight each time--A FULL HOUR OF NON-STOP FIRECRACKERS! I begin to think they might never stop. They are still going strong as I go to bed at 11:30--however, now it is more random. Like every five minutes one temple decides to pop something rather than all the temples all shooting off fireworks at the exact same time for an hour.
ALL DAY LONG these people have worshiped their idol with loud songs and amazing firework shows. I didn't go investigate, but I assume their worship has also included sacrifices, burning of spirit money, colorful costumes, dancing, spirit possession, dragon dances, and there has probably been some blood shed as shamans pierce parts of their bodies with swords and daggers. They probably have, are right now, or probably will go on a "god parade" dancing their idols through the streets so he or she in his or her different forms (one for each temple) has the opportunity to bless those nearby as the idols are returning from another more powerful temple where they went to get "recharged."
Less than two out of every one hundred Taiwanese are Christian. Sunday as I sit in my living room, preparing my heart to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, I am fully aware of this fact. Lostness surrounds me, literally deafening me, making me sad . . . very sad. When will the Taiwanese be able to share with us the hope we have in Christ?
My little neighbors and their mom join me in my candle-and-Christmas-tree lit living room to worship our Savior (I'm new to Tainan, but I've known this family for eight years). We light a candle, read Scripture, thank Jesus for coming and for being our hope. . . . We worship the King of kings with very little display while the temples all around us worship an idol with great display.
I will never forget the odd juxtaposition of this day . . . the first Sunday of my first Advent celebration.