Indians are a festive people.
Each Indian-based religion has periodic festivals that involve millions of people, elaborate preparations and great expense.
Christians have more reason to rejoice and celebrate than any other religion on earth. As Christians, we have an assurance of salvation that no religion can offer. The Christmas season should be a time of festivity and joy, celebration and triumph that transcends the frantic secular holiday that it has become.
While Hindus go all out in celebrating mythical gods, we celebrate a God who came and lived in our midst, in real time. People spoke with Him, touched Him and experienced His healing word and power. Even a cynical Roman centurion at Jesus’ crucifixion recognized Jesus’ divine nature in human flesh when he proclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
Christian faith involves a personal relationship with the maker of the universe. We are members of a royal family. God is our mighty fortress, our loving Father who loved us even before He created the universe. Our privileged relationship with Him is based upon unfathomable grace. We have opportunities, right now, to experience eternal life even in our mortal and flawed bodies and imperfect circumstances.
We must recognize and celebrate all of these things. We need special occasions when the presence of the Holy Spirit is so strong that everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, can experience a small taste of heaven and glorify God.
Such special times may involve food and fellowship and can become non-threatening and revealing evangelistic events for non-Christians. Indian culture is especially conducive for enjoyment of rich foods with many kinds of wonderful flavors and textures. These things can become symbols of the rich blessings that God has given. The presence of God will do even more—to fill that empty place in their spirits as they hear believers testify to the work of the Lord in their lives.
An increasing number of Indian Christians are learning to adapt traditional Indian musical and art forms for Christian worship and praise. These new musical and art forms are an opportunity for Christians to share what God has done in our lives. These things can become tangible expressions of God’s transforming power in the culture.
Some Christians are hesitant about getting too festive. After all, huge Hindu festivals often become excuses for outright carousing and crass merrymaking. Past large festivals have resulted in extreme mob actions and panic, such as stampedes that cause deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. But Christians should never avoid opportunities for communal expressions of thanksgiving and joy.
As Christians with so much to celebrate, we should consider having more festivals by which to celebrate our faith. We should celebrate, not as an end in itself but because we have a story to tell, a testimony to share, with the whole body of believers and the community at large.
May our faith never become merely a collection of abstract religious beliefs but a relationship with the living God that causes us to celebrate with thanksgiving and praise.