REFLECTION: Love is……….

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The coming of Christ the King is long awaited for, by the Kings from the East, by the Jews who waited for their Messiah as God promised. We Christians wait for each Christmas to celebrate the birthday of our Saviour in modern terms.

This year as I wait for the coming of the new born king, by putting up a Christmas tree at home, by thinking of dear friends and love ones, by meditating. I particularly choose one nice topic to focus on, especially after receiving the sad news that a special person had passed on rather unexpectedly.

What were the deeds of those people around us which show great love? Are their deeds indication of their faith in God and love for God? Are they Godly, Christ like in their simple ways? My examples are not of missionaries who went to foreign countries to proclaim their faith. They are not people who have done great deeds and have been acclaimed by the media. They are simple folks.

A child often looks around for the deeper meaning of love, observing paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, father and mother, siblings, friends and even strangers.

From my paternal grandfather, I observed his care for his widowed and only sister when he brought a few hot, fresh from the oven kompia (bagels) from the Foochow bakery, right at the corner near our primary school. Sometimes he would bring some extra packed noodles. He was kind and loving to his sister and her children.

My grand aunt was a kindergarten teacher and 10 o‘clock in the morning would be just the right time to visit her. Some of his grand children including myself, attending the primary school, would be there too to share the goodies. Those small offerings were good snacks and love in reality. I often looked out of the classroom window and whenever I caught sight of my 80 year-old grandpa going up the steep stair case to the flat where my grand aunt lived, my heart would flutter. We would have extra food!!

Love is Grandpa walking up the steep staircase of more than 70 steps, bringing some Kompia to his widowed and only sister. A small gift but the loving kindness example has been imprinted in my mind for more than 55 years.

My mother often told us stories about her childhood and youth, especially during the hard times of the Japanese Occupation. My maternal grandfather had just passed away because of lack of medication and my maternal grandmother was stranded in Fujian, China due to the War. For three years and eight months she and her brother’s family tended the fields, grew rice and sweet potatoes. My mother was thus the surrogate parent to her three younger siblings. A few chickens were kept in the hut near the padi field away from the prying eyes of the Japanese soldiers. Every festival they would slaughter a chicken. Her sister in law would reward those who worked hard with extra pieces of chicken and my mother would pass her share to her younger brother who was then a growing child. Love is a sibling giving her share of food to a younger one.

Love is Grandpa walking up the steep staircase of more than 70 steps, bringing some Kompia to his widowed and only sister.

My own father in law had to travel some distance to come to Miri. He had to wait for a bus or get a lift and then take a Twin Otter to fly to Miri. Those were the days before booking a flight on line was the normalcy. If in season, he would carefully pack two or three kilos of dabai(what he could carry by hand) in an expandable (and breath-able) rattan basket. My family would always remember that these dabai were the best in the world, soft, “oily” or lunak and tasty. He would place many leaves in the basket to give moisture to the dabai to prevent the skin from wrinkling up. Love is a grandfather bringing his own homegrown fruit by Twin Otter.

Not long ago, I was invited to a small dinner by a retired friend who is grandmother to five grandchildren who are very well behaved. She ordered five dishes and she asked them if she had ordered correctly. She was not spoiling them. They beamed and replied as if in a reheared chorus, “Grandma you remember my favourite food!!”. The family was beaming. Love is in the air!! Love is grandmother remembering a grand child’s favourite food.

A friend not long ago gave up her holiday plans when she heard that another friend was suffering from a very aggressive cancer of a rare form – perhaps only about 3 months or even weeks. Love is a friend giving up a longed for holiday for a friend in need and nursing her on her last days.

If we look around, we can see that different people show great love in different ways. God is touching our hearts so that we touch other people’s hearts, leaving behind very lasting impressions.

The way we show love will define us and define our society.

May Christians all over the world show love, peace, and kindness, especially during Advent, as we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus.

Chang Yi
Agape Grace Methodist Church, Miri
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