Christmas 2021 was really different from previous years. Due to the resurgence of COVID-19, Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, imposed a citywide lockdown due to a pandemic prevention and control measure on December 22. Baoji City, which is 170 kilometers away from the provincial capital Xi'an, also took synchronized actions in adopting the same pandemic-containing measures so that once again all onsite events were suspended.
In the past years, my church held many celebrations at Christmas. Usually, there were candlelight evening services on Christmas Eve and sacred music performances on Christmas Day. During the Spring Festival in 2020 and before and after Easter in 2021, I conducted phone interviews with several believers there.
This year, I planned to write report series on " How These Christians Spent This Christmas". Therefore, I tried to send out a dozen interview invitations on my WeChat moments. Unfortunately, even three or four days after Christmas no one responded by calling me about their experiences as expected.
Losing patience with this interview ministry, I was about to give up and go to sleep, but the phone rang all of a sudden. It was a male believer surnamed Chen who lived far away in the countryside. He was one of the interviewees to whom I reached out. He told me the following story about how he spent Christmas...
Christmas 2021 was destined to be extraordinary. If the pandemic eased, our church would resume in-person gatherings. But if the pandemic rebounded, our church would be closed immediately.
In the days leading up to Christmas, we transferred worship activities to an online platform because we couldn't go to church to gather or worship. Meanwhile because we couldn't go to church to rehearse the Nativity play and dance programs, we watched related performance videos online to learn and rehearse in our own homes.
In the village where I lived, several church members assumed the roles assigned by the church in rehearsing the holy drama "The Nativity Story". In this Nativity play, my wife and I played Mary and Joseph respectively.
Due to the special situation of pandemic containment this year, our church hosted the Christmas celebrations ahead of schedule on December 19th.
Along with the music of "Good Christians, All Rejoice", the angel appeared on the stage to give a speech. Then Mary's appearance kicked off our performance of the holy drama "Nativity". Joseph, the righteous man I played, obeyed God and married pregnant Mary.
Believers of our village performed the second holy drama starting at 13:30. There were other wonderful performances from other villages. A total of 14 theatrical performance were presented in sequence, in forms of a hymn, dance, and program played in an allegro tempo ...
This was how he spent Christmas. Although the Christmas event was held in advance due to the pandemic, the efforts and hard work by him and his wife didn’t go in vain.
- Translated by Shuya Wang