Remembering Sacrifice at Christmas
Christmas Eve already! Where has the year gone? Christmas seems to have really crept up on us here in Nepal. As the overwhelming majority of the population don't celebrate the birth of Christ, it seems like any other time of the year - there are no lights, Christmas trees or seasonal music. As for the Christian minority, they celebrate in a different way from the West. On Christmas day, churches across the country meet to worship before having a special lunch together - Dhaal Bhaat (rice, curried vegetables, lentils and chicken). During our five years here, we have found it very refreshing to be able to focus on the reason we celebrate - the incarnation, God becoming flesh.
This week, my thoughts were drawn to a gentleman that I met a couple of months ago. He was the high priest of a famous temple in Siraha District. This temple sees a steady stream of people coming daily to make atonement before the gods. In seeking to gain favour, they make blood sacrifices. The priest shared with us that he sacrifices over 10,000 animals in this temple every year. Indeed, I have heard other reports claiming that it is as many as 27,000 animals. These include buffaloes, pigs, goats, chickens and, for the poorer families, pigeons.
The devotion of the people is very challenging as they go to such lengths to make appeasement before the gods. Christmas time speaks to us about sacrifice. It's easy to think of the baby in the manger and leave it at that. However, Jesus was born to die and be THE sacrifice to make atonement for our sins before the one true and living God.
Matthew 1:21 - "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." No longer do we need to keep trying to gain His approval. 1 John 4: 10 - "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
We would like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas as we remember God making, for us, a way back to himself.
For the hope that we find in Christ. God made a way when there was no way.
For the growing Nepalese church, which will be meeting on Christmas day across the nation.
That believers across Nepal will be able to find opportunity to share this message of hope with others in their community.
For the believers who face persecution from family members and the wider community.
Thank you for all of the support that you continue to show the ministry here in the Himalayas.
Andy, Laura, Asher & Hadassah Bleakley in Nepal.