When S. M. Thevathasan, the future Presiding Elder of the Methodist churches during the Japanese Occupation wrote this Christmas reflection in 1926, he was teaching at ACS. Teaching Scripture and Latin, he possessed a sharp mind and fluent pen. Here he shares a reminder with 21st century Christians who forget the “Christ” as they celebrate what amounts to a pagan festival.
A CHRISTMAS REFLECTION
‘“THERE was no room in the Inn.” Why not? Is not this the season of Merry Christmas? Is not this the brightest season of the year when everyone is happy? Why moody reflection, instead of bright jubilation?
A large majority of our people in the Christian fold are still strangers to the spirit and programme of the Master of the human heart. To reflect on the disservice of such a large portion of our members within the church to the cause of which they have openly professed is really disheartening. Why should this be so?
The old-time teaching, which is still current in our churches that our religion is only a preparation for Heaven with the individual regeneration, has directly and indirectly affected not only our attitude towards others but has also wrongly coloured our interpretation of Christianity.
Oh, the ignorance that prevails in our churches!
Let us look at a few of the rooms of our inn to see if there is room for our Master there. They are labelled “Immediate”, “Permanent”, “Exceptional” and “Prospective”.
Filled with things
The room marked “Immediate” is the most frequented as it represents the daily needs and wants of this life, mostly of a physical character.
To most people, the most consuming thought is, what shall we eat, what shall we drink and wherewithal shall we be clothed? Added to these are our social needs and very little by way of intellectual needs.
The poor think only of the wherewithal of existence, and the rich think selfishly of their amusements and pleasures. How sad a reflection it is to face this short-sighted view of life.
Too busy to dust up
Marked “Permanent”, this room represents the abiding values of life – spiritual – and is so covered with dust that it is difficult to discover its existence. With many it is left permanently closed; with some occasionally opened and dusted.
Few keep this room well, opening its windows to let in light to see the grandeur of the imperishable in life.
This room represents the equipment of the soul for standing the shock of exceptional moments of life. It is occasionally opened, but has nothing in it for the soul to rest upon.
The equipment is scarcely thought of. The exceptional moments of sudden disasters, catastrophes, deaths, insanity, divorce and permanent separation – when they do come – how few are prepared to meet them.
Furnished – but not for the Son of Man
The room marked “Prospective” represents the hope and purposes for which this life is lived. It is fairly well furnished but with tawdry, fragile, tinselled furniture. The only saving feature is that it constantly changes.
People who put their trust in money, fame, relatives, children, etc, are soon driven to change their hopes. There come fear, anxiety, limited horizon, blank despair as the Son of Man has been ruled out of their lives and there is no faith or hope.
“Immediate, Permanent, Exceptional, Prospective” – these represent real interests of our life and they have their rightful place. It is really a problem to discover their true place, and maintain a correct value of things.
How much will the puzzle of life be made easy if we have the Master as our constant adviser and friend in all the rooms of our inn.
Can you help feeling sad that the season of Christmas finds us again in much the same situation of human indifference and apathy to the eternal verities of life?
Shall the New Year be a period of more consecrated service for us because of this sad reflection, based not upon imagination, but a fairly correct estimate of the world’s pulse in spiritual vitality?’ – MM, December 1926, p.8, edited.
Earnest Lau, the Associate Editor of Methodist Message, is also the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore.