Christmas Story from a Faraway Land

Malaysian writer Evelyn Tan Hwee Yong was doing her devotions in a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur recently—reflecting on the challenges facing Christians in her country—when suddenly an idea came for an article. Her creative Christmas meditation follows.

Imagining myself a tired snowy owl, I flew to one of the benches in a sparkly Christmas box by Naito8 Freedigitalphotosshopping mall decked out for the season. Although it was not snowing here, I fluttered to shake flakes of snow from my wings.

For months in my country, harsh voices had been ranting about religious issues and racial rights and inciting hatred. I sighed as I thought of those calling for the “exile” of our Holy Book. How could the Bible, which speaks of the greatest love, be exiled?

“Hoot, hoot. ” I felt miserable and looked at the little hut in the mall adorned with decorations.  It had a warm fireplace, but the snow on my wings made me shiver. Pulling out a copy of the Bible in the national language, I read the account of Christ’s birth under a colorful pine tree.

“Hoot, hoot, my soul doth magnify the Lord.” I tried to echo Mary. Warmth flooded my soul as I meditated on Mary. In my snowy owl shape, I sat and read the account of the first Christmas amidst the glitter and sparkles.

“Hoot, hoot…and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them: and they were sore afraid” (Luke 2:9-10, KJV).

I imagined that the bright light of glory shone around me, dispelling my frustrations and uplifting my disparing soul.

“Glory, yes, the glory of the Lord in this land! Hoot, hoot,” I cried.

The glory of the Lord entered a dark world aching with sin during the first Christmas. The tired and worn shepherds saw the glory of the Lord shining around them. The glory of the Lord had already been seen by the Prophet Isaiah long ago amidst the darkness in his land: “Every valley shall be exiled, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 39:5, KJV)

“Hoot, hoot…”   I flapped my wings, trying to shake loose my anger over the injustices in my land. Then I remembered how Jesus humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross. My anger began to subside, and I realized my need to be different. After all, I too had seen the glory of the Lord Jesus.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Spreading my wings, I soared out of the shopping mall. The glory of the Lord had quelled the storm within me.

Malaysian born writer and publisher, Evelyn Tan Hwee Yong, lives in Petaling Jaya. She writes, translates and edits at Upstream Publishing. Apart from writing and translating, she teaches and preaches with passion. She enjoys cooking during festive seasons, and also learning different cultures from other nations. She also serves as a Trustee of MAI-Asia.

Photo above courtesy Naito8, Freedigitalphotos

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