A church in Baoji, Shaanxi, held a Sunday service on June 13, the day before the Dragon Boat Festival, commemorating Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet and stateman in ancient China.
Around 8 o'clock in the morning, churchgoers rushed to Shilipu Church in Baoji City from all directions. Following COVID-19 protocols, they wore masks to enter the sanctuary on the second floor.
At 8:30 a.m., the service began with the intercession from Yao Chao. Then, the choir came on stage to sing two hymns, Preaching the Gospel to All Nations and To God be the Glory, accompanied by piano.
Based on Leviticus 11:45 and Romans 12:17, Elder Liu Xifeng gave a sermon titled The Enlightenment of the Dragon Boat Festival from two parts. She reviewed the poems of Qu Yuan to commemorate him on this festival, urging congregation to do what is right in the eyes of everybody, which is the Christian’ mission.
The Dragon Boat Festival is the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, also known as the Duanyang Festival, Afternoon Day Festival, May Festival, etc. People eat zongzi (rice dumplings), race dragon boats, hang calamus, wormwood, and moxa in front of and behind their houses. Adults drink realgar wine, while children wear spice bags, aiming to ward off evil and diseases. This series of activities is to commemorate the patriotic general Qu Yuan. The festival is one of China’s statutory holidays and has been included in the list of World Intangible Cultural Heritage.
During the warring states period, Qu Yuan (343-278 BC) offered advice to the King of Chu who listened to treacherous court officials. The king was so stupid that he not only dismissed Qu Yuan from his official position but also expelled him from the capital.
While in exile, he heard that the capital of Chu was held by the enemy and witnessed people suffering; so he held onto a heavy rock and jumped into the Miluo River, thereby intentionally committing suicide instead of living while his country is in a state of dishonor.
When the nearby people heard about it, they rowed to search for his body, and spontaneously dropped rice balls wrapped in rue leaves into the river, hoping that the fish and shrimps would not eat his body. Later on, people designated the day when Qu Yuan died as the "Dragon Boat Festival."
Besides the legends of Qu Yuan and the Dragon Boat Festival, Elder Liu also shared that though Qu Yuan had not met God in his life, he already felt His existence. He mentioned God many times in his long poem, Ask Heaven: "Why did God make states angry with each other inside the whole country?" and "Did you still pray to God when the country had fallen?"
After the sermon, Yao Chao, the host of the service, announced an upcoming event that a three-day prayer meeting for students going for high school entrance examinations would be held from June 19, and their parents would be welcome to attend it.
(The author is a Christian in Shaanxi.)
- Translated by Abigail Wu