CHC celebrated Christmas with the return of its highly-anticipated drama production. The story follows a scammer on her journey to discovering who Jesus is and the miracle He brings.
The familiar crowds. Merry jostling. Scouring of seats. The occasion when even the chronically late cell group members arrive before the first praise song hits—this is surely Christmas, and in full swing!
Laden with joyful hearts, festive tidings (and a very skewed ratio of arms to bags of presents,) the much-anticipated Christmas weekend at Suntec Singapore (24 and 25 Dec) did not disappoint. The past couple of years of Covid restrictions forced City Harvest Church’s celebrations to be muted and downsized, but no more of that. The CHC Christmas is back!
THE UNCONDITIONAL GIFT
All that anticipation was met. The highlight of the CHC Christmas drama had returned, in-the-flesh, larger-than-life, delivered with a bang (pyrotechnics and an infectious BTS-inspired song and dance number). It was every bit as amazing as promised, and then a bit more.
Titled “The Unconditional Gift”, the drama is set against the backdrop of the familiar Nativity scene, seen this time through the lens of a fictional character named Bekah, who, with her brother, Caleb, ekes out a living running “Bekah’s Tavern”, offering seer services to the residents of Nazareth. Armed with a knack for using intel that Caleb has obtained to get hapless customers to part with their money, Bekah has no qualms engaging in trickery for monetary gain.
As the drama unfolds, the audience is made privy to glimpses of compassion underneath Bekah’s crafty and deceptive tendencies. It is soon revealed that she was compelled to resort to scamming others for survival after their late father left them with a mountain of debts.
At the market, Bekah bumps into a childhood friend on whom she has a lingering crush. He is none other than Joseph, who is betrothed to Mary. Bekah’s feelings of jealousy morph into critical skepticism of Mary’s sweet and gentle nature.
Bekah later chances upon a heated conversation between Joseph and Mary, where Mary reveals that an angel appeared to her and she was now pregnant with the Son of God. Joseph does not believe her and is about to call off the wedding when an angel appears to him to confirm Mary’s “wild” claims.
Eight months later, Bekah is enlisted to Herod’s palace as a Seer. Despite impressing the King when she helps choose his future wife, she later incurs his wrath after the three wise men announce the coming of the new King of the Jews. Before her lays a choice of either saving herself or giving up Mary and Jesus’ whereabouts and thereby subjecting them to be executed under King Herod’s orders. In the end, Bekah reluctantly decides to comply and leads the soldiers to Joseph and Mary.
Rubber meets the road when Bekah finally locates Joseph and Mary; she finds herself unable to go through with the betrayal and quickly ushers the couple into the nearby manger. Outsmarting the soldiers by feigning her death through a chaotic bar fight orchestrated by her brother, the drama production ends with a moving scene in the manger where Bekah confesses to Joseph and Mary her involvement in the near murder of mother and child. During a tearful reconciliation, Mary gifts Bekah the gold given by the three wise men which allows her to pay off the debts owed to the debt collectors.
ON THE INNKEEPER, HEROD & THE WISEMEN
Kong Hee, the senior pastor of CHC took the stage to share a Christmas message. Drawing from three verses from the gospels: Luke 2:7, Matthew 2:11, and Matthew 2:16, he talked about the different responses people have toward Jesus Christ.
In a newspaper article on what people associate Christmas with, there were mentions of family, the spirit of giving, and merry-making. While these are all great reasons to celebrate during this festive holiday, it seems odd to neglect Jesus, the real reason for the season. The derivation of the word Christmas is simply the “celebration of Christ”, thus, to forget Jesus would be akin to celebrating a birthday without knowing whose birthday it was.
To this end, Pastor Kong narrowed in on three groups of people involved in the Nativity: the innkeeper, King Herod, and the three wise men.
The innkeeper was focused on profits, hence he was unwilling to accept Joseph, Mary and the unborn Jesus into his lodging. He represents those who have no room for Jesus in their lives—literally and figuratively. Pastor Kong shared the stories of two members of the church, Oh Yan Ming and Amos Koh, who despite humble beginnings, opened their hearts to Jesus and have been blessed with successful careers and beautiful families.
Next, he studied King Herod, the powerful and authoritative ruler who could not stand to have anyone challenge his reign—so much so that he was willing to issue orders to kill every male child under the age of two in an attempt to kill Jesus in his infancy. This character depicts those who consciously reject Jesus.
Pastor Kong shared the story of a rich couple who ran a successful business. During the wife’s pregnancy, the doctors discovered through the ultrasound that her baby was unusually large. The doctors floated a few theories: her baby was without a skull such that his brain was growing out, or maybe there was no skin and his intestines were spilling out.
She endured a difficult labour—13 hours without success—and the doctors suspected that the baby was already dead. The family even bought a baby coffin and booked a plot in the cemetery. As the surgeon operated to take the baby out, they were surprised the baby was still alive, though barely breathing. He was born with a 4.7kg lymphatic tumour that was heavier than his body weight. He could not breathe and relied on a machine to sustain his life. For two weeks, he underwent multiple operations. During one of the surgeries, there was nerve damage, and he suffered a stroke on the operating table.
It was then that the couple humbled themselves before God and looked to Jesus for a miracle. They named their son Abraham, to remind them to hold fast to the promises of God. God did a miracle and Abraham survived. At three years of age, all the tumours he had miraculously disappeared. At six years old, his face, paralysed from the stroke, was healed. Abraham not only survived, he has grown up into a young man who has graduated from university.
Finally, Pastor Kong took a look at the three wise men. They sought to be led by the star to find baby Jesus and they traveled a long distance in search of the Saviour of the world, to worship Him once He was born. They represent believers who find peace and joy in the discovery of Jesus.
“At the end of the day, every person will come to that place where they lie down on their pillow one last time,” said Pastor Kong. “And it won’t matter if you are the richest or most successful person in the world—you cannot take a single cent with you. Only Jesus can save you from your sins.”
The pastor gave an altar call for those who wanted to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Hundreds of people thronged to the front to say the sinner’s prayer—a scene repeated at all four Christmas services this past weekend.