OMF U.S. President Michael Littlefield began serving overseas in 1987 in Taiwan. Below are some of his reflections on his first Christmases in East Asia and how Christmas can be both “comforting and unsettling” for people around the world.
I remember my first Christmases overseas. I felt torn in three ways. There was the comfort of seeing hints of familiar Western Christmas traditions on the streets and in the churches of Taiwan. Then there was the excitement of seeing the wonder of the truth of Christmas sneaking, seeping, breaking into the hearts of people in the small churches in Taichung and then Kaohsiung. Additionally, there was the combination of joy and bewilderment of Christmas celebrated in our international OMF Fellow- ship (somebody changed the words to “Silent Night”!).
I’ve come to see how Christmas is both comforting and unsettling. Recently Isaiah’s words have meant much to me:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
PEACE IN THE MIDST OF TURMOIL.
These words bring comfort in the midst of a section that some have called “The Isaiah Apocalypse” (Isaiah 24-27). It speaks of the coming universal judgment. In many ways it feels the judgment is here! Yet, in the midst of this, “From the ends of the earth we hear singing: ‘Glory to the Righteous One’” (24:16). “[Lord] you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago” (25:1b). God promises “perfect peace” (in Hebrew literally “shalom-shalom”).
It is when we keep our mind steadfast on Jesus, trusting in God, that we have perfect peace.
Peace be with you!