Christmas 2016: Home Is Where Love Is
CHC celebrated Christmas with a heartwarming drama about discovering where one truly belongs.
It’s hard to create a really Christmassy atmosphere in hot and humid Singapore, but at City Harvest Church last Christmas (Dec 24-25), a festive wonderland was indeed brought to life.
It’s a CHC tradition for church members congregate with excitement for a Christmas production preceded by weeks of teasers.
The annual production is always planned meticulously over several months. Rehearsals run late into the night, costumes are painstakingly sewn and the effort put into building props and sets from scratch are back-backing. All the volunteers work hard in the hope that someone who has never understood the real reason Christmas is might watch the production and be moved to seek God.
The production carried the message that no matter how lonely an individual, no many how far away or how undeserving they feel, God’s family will always welcome him home with open arms.
HOME IS WHERE LOVE IS
Titled “Finding Home”, this year’s production was set in the early 1800s, and begins in a fictional, albeit stereotypical, orphanage. Filled with kids that possess tough attitudes and nuns who govern with a velvet-clad iron fist, it is home to the heroine Claire, a storybook-loving tween.
Claire is one of the oldest children in the orphanage. Bitter about not having been chosen by couples seeking to adopt and harboring unanswered questions about her past, Claire goes about life in the orphanage with a chip on her shoulder. After discovering that the Mother Superior has been hiding a clue to her family background from her, Claire runs away with her best friend, Olivia, in search of her birth family.
Armed with a scarf emblazoned with Claire’s family crest, the girls embark on a journey. They meet the slippery Tom who tricks them into buying train tickets, and they are ultimately thrown off the train and have to make their way by foot across treacherous territory.
Cold and hungry, they stumble into Peppermint Park, a Seussian village filled with walking candy bars and cotton candy-growing trees. Just as the girls are about to sneak some cotton candy from the trees, two odd characters, Ting and Tong, popped out. The pair draw plenty of laughs from the audience with their strange accent and cheesy pick-up lines. Dressed in mustard yellow overalls and bright purple shirts, the duo trick the girls into following them to home of the Candyman.
The terrifying Candyman—wielding his giant Ferrero Rocher-topped staff— invites the girls to be dinner. The girls discover that the cheat, Tom, has been captured and turned into a giant Lollipop, which is what happens when people steal candy from Peppermint Park. The Candyman reveals that he is always hungry no matter how much candy he eats; there was an emptiness that has never been able to disappear completely in his life. Claire buys time: if she can fill his hunger with something else, The Candyman gives them his word not to eat them.
Whisking out plates of Christmas treats, Claire tells The Candyman the story of Jesus’s birth. Using clever rhymes and animation, Claire captivated not just the Candyman but the rest of the audience as well. It was a fresh reminder that Christmas is never about the presents–it is about the love of God that inspired Him to send down his Son to redeem man.
Finally, the girls and Tom manage to escape and Tom leads them to Wintervale, where Claire’s family resides. Filled with anticipation, Claire towards the house, ready to introduce herself. Instead, she discovers she was born out of wedlock. Her birth mother’s husband turns her away, citing that her mother had already moved on and Claire’s presence would ruin her life.
Rejected and heartbroken, Claire finds Olivia and Tom again. She is lost—the family she had convinced herself was waiting for her did not exist. She is also too embarrassed and ashamed to return to the orphanage. Olivia convinces Claire and Tom to bring her back to the orphanage.
When they arrive at the orphanage, Claire discovers that the other children miss her, and Mother Superior—having been worried about her—welcomes her home with open arms. It has been a humbling experience for the stubborn Claire, but through it she discovers that home is where there are people who love you.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
Following the drama, Kong Hee, senior pastor of CHC, shared a few lessons from the nativity story. He highlighted the three types of fear experienced by people and gave examples of how God helps believers overcome.
Turning to Luke 1:30-31, Kong preached about Mary’s fear of inadequacy—she needed reassurance from the angel to tell her that God had chosen her to carry the son of God. What she needed was the peace of God to help her move forward.
Kong told the congregation about Nicodemus Lim, who survived a terrible childhood and grew up to be a compassionate social worker when he received the love of God. Abusive parents and gang-related activities made up Lim’s childhood. After he started attending CHC, he found the peace of God and was able to move forward and transform his own life. He found love and reconciliation, and soon began to excel. He received multiple scholarships and is currently completing his Masters in Australia.
To illustrate the fear of disapproval Kong highlighted Joseph’s dilemma in Matthew 1:20-21. Overcame with the fear of disapproval, he was reluctant to take Mary as his wife. He was a people pleaser and “would rather go along than get along”.
“Unexpected change can also be a terrifying prospect,” Kong said. “You never know what’s going to happen and when, but that’s also when one learns to trust God.”
Illustrating his point, Kong shared the story of Darryl Lee’s unshakable faith. Born with a hole in his heart, Lee led a life of uncertainty. He underwent surgeries constantly throughout his life. During one of CHC’s weekend services, Kong called for those with a hole in the heart to receive prayers at the stage front. Taking a step of faith, Darryl went down and he was healed. He did a checkup just before his surgery and he found that the hole was gone. Rather than fear changes that might come, he simply let go and let God.
Kong ended the sermon talking about the fear of disappointment. He illustrated this point with the story of Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin. She was barren for a long time and the couple had given up hope of ever having a child. When the angle delivered the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Zacharias refused to believe it because of his fear of disappointment. Eventually, Zacharias learned to trust in God and Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist.
The senior pastor ended the Christmas service with an altar call. A total of 1,596 people gave their hearts to Jesus that weekend.