12 Days of Christmas – Part 1

I’m trying to figure out a good way to post Mark’s most recent newsletter. He has what I think is a most ingenious idea. He is posting a new thing that he is thankful for on the 12 days of Christmas.

It has come to my attention that most people seem to think the 12 days of Christmas starts 12 days before Christmas and ends on Christmas Day. When in actuality, Christmas is the first day of Christmas and it lasts until Epiphany. Epiphany celebrates the coming of the Magi: Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar.

Rather than publishing them 1 at a time, or all together, I’ve decided to publish 3 at a time.

Enjoy Mark’s first 3 days of Christmas:

Day 1

1st Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

When I was in my teacher education courses at Iowa State I remember getting many pieces of advice, but one particular piece sticks out that I learned in many courses. The advice was that a teacher needs to be a thief. It is absolutely important, to borrow, steal, use and modify ideas from other teachers. I should never think I have all the ideas I need, but should rather be continually learning from others. Well I am glad I listened because as it turns out this piece of advice is definitely true. And for my upcoming newsletters, I am borrowing an idea from Ben and Amy Riley, who are missionaries with me here in Taiwan.

The Christmas season is such a busy and joyful time, with a plethora of activities. Honestly, it is very difficult to put all of these into a newsletter (or two), so instead I am going to give you the 12 Days of Christmas as a substitute for December and January Newsletters. For the next 12 days, I will give you a short update, highlighting an aspect of the ministry here in Taiwan, most of which will focus on the Christmas season.

Let me know if you like this or regular newsletters, but I thought it would be fun to try something new. So without further delay…

The Twelve Christmas Blessings that My Lord Gave to Me:

1. Messiah in Church on Christmas Eve

The most important blessing is the gift of Jesus, our savior and king. On Christmas night, Salvation Lutheran Church had a Christmas service, featuring selection’s from Handel’s Messiah. These selections were performed by many of our very talented members at church. With the church was filled with both members and non-members alike, all of whom were able to hear about God sending a savior to the world.

Praise God for his love and pray for those who came to church but do not yet know him.

Day 2

The Second Christmas blessing that my Lord gave to Me:

Water and Word

Baptism is a wonderful gift that God has given us. This past December we had our Fall Missionary Retreat in Sun Moon Lake. The focus of this retreat was our baptism and the faith and confidence that we have because of God’s work in this way. The retreat was a relaxing time to get away for a weekend, build-up our team, and refocus on God’s word.

Baptism was also part of our worship service this morning. This morning at Salvation Lutheran Church, God brought Erin Shu into his family through water and the word. Erin is a Senior in High School at Chia-Yi Girls school, and has been attending Youth Group and Friday Night Bible Study over the last few years.

Prayer requests
1. Praise God for a great retreat in early December.
2. Praise God for his work in Erin’s life, and for her baptism this morning.
3. Pray that Erin will grow in faith and that God will use the members of Salvation Lutheran church to encourage and support her in Christian love.

The 12 Christmas blessings that my Lord gave to me:

-Water and Word
-Messiah on Christmas Eve

Day 3

The third Christmas blessing that my Lord gave to me:

Lost Son Skit

Every Christmas season is busy with practices and preparations for our annual Christmas dramas. One of the dramas that I helped to write this year was a drama about the Prodigal Son. This drama was a modern re-telling of the parable, and was a wordless production with the action driven by a musical soundtrack.

16 people participated in the skit, and it featured roles such as the father, sons, servants, wild livers (that is people who live wildly), gangsters, and a pig farmer with pigs. My role was to be one of the gangsters who stole from and beat up the wasteful son. The soundtrack included songs such as Whistle While You Work, My Heart Will Go On (from Titanic), ABAA’s “Money, Money, Money”, and a song from the West Side Story.

The skit was really funny and overly dramatic, but afterwards we connected the skit to Christmas. We are all like that son who leaves the father and wants to live for himself. But God loves us, and accepts us even though we sin and fall short of his law of love. He forgives us through his son Jesus Christ, who was born as a baby on the first Christmas.

We performed the Lost Son drama four times. The performances were for the On-Campus Student Fellowship Christmas party, the Friday Night Bible Study Christmas party, the Saturday School Orphanage Christmas Celebration (I’ll write more about this at another time), and on Sunday morning worship. Praise God for the chance to share the message of his love through this entertaining method.

Prayer requests:

1. Pray for those who watched the drama, that they may understand and believe in God’s love for them.
2. Pray for this Thursday morning when we will perform the skit one last time for the 7th grade students at the weekly chapel service. Pray that God would help them to understand the message and pray for us teachers as we prepare to do the skit and lead songs.

The 12 Christmas blessings that my Lord gave to me:

-Lost Son Skit
-Water and Word
-Messiah on Christmas Eve