Tag Archives: Christmas

Peace Child


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman′u-el. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born!
to us a son is given!
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6)

Christmas is upon us again and it is a time to reflect on the miracle of the birth of Christ.  A miracle not just because it was a virgin birth but also because it speaks of God’s amazing love for fallen mankind.  It is a miracle that God’s Son came into our world to live amongst us and to ultimately lay down  his life for us.

But it does seem so unbelievable.  Why would God do such a thing?  It is not something that a self centered and selfish world can easily understand.

When I ponder about this, I am reminded of the true story of Don and Caroline Richardson.  They were missionaries who, in 1962, went to live amongst the cannibalistic head-hunting Sawi peoples in remote Irian Jaya, Indonesia.  They lived there learning the Sawi language and their customs, providing medical services and befriending them.  They desired to share about Jesus and the good news of God but found it difficult in a culture that elevates warfare and treachery.   For example, when they told the Sawi about Jesus being arrested and crucified after being betrayed by Judas, the Sawi clapped and cheered for Judas as he was seen to be cunning in his treachery.

How to make them understand why Jesus came and what he did?  God would show the Richardsons the way.

The Sawi had a way of making peace and that involved the warriors of the two warring tribes lining up facing  each other.  In the ceremony witnessed by the Richardsons, the chief of one tribe then took his first born infant son from the baby’s distraught  mother and walked down the line of his warriors.  The warriors placed their hands on the child as he passed by.

The chief then handed his son to the chief of the opposing tribe who takes the child down his line of warriors.  They to place their hands on the child in an act of affirmation and then the whole war party leaves with the child.

From that moment on, the child will live in the other tribes village and as long as he lives, there will be peace between the two villages.  If he is harmed, the person who harmed him would be killed.  It is the act of sacrifice by the first chief that secures the peace through his son, the Peace Child.

Don Richardon explains during an interview;

“When [my wife] Caroline and I lived among the Sawi and learned their language, we found that they honored treachery as a virtue. This came to light when I told them the story of Judas betraying Jesus to death after three years of friendship. They acclaimed Judas as the hero of the story. It seemed as if it would not be easy for such a people to understand God’s redemption in Jesus.

But lo and behold, their way of making peace required a father in one of two warring villages to make an incredible sacrifice. He had to be willing to give one of his own children as a peace child to his enemies.

Caroline and I saw this happen, and we saw the peace that resulted from a man’s wonderful sacrifice of his own son. That enabled me to proclaim Jesus as the greatest peace child given by the greatest father.”

So this Christmas, may we reflect on what it meant for God to send His son into the world and what it means to us all to receive the greatest Peace Child.

This world is so in need of peace.  Peace with God and peace between men.


I’m Still Talking About Christmas

WARNING! WARNING! The Lone Grey Squirrel is still posting about Christmas.

This last Christmas was surprisingly busy for me.  Usually, I  try to have a quiet one but maybe due to the alignment of the sun and Venus and the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem, it wasn’t to be this year.

It all started a few days before Christmas.  The elderly lady with the broken arm which I referred to in the post “Guilt Weighs Heavy“, had her daughter from Australia and her daughter’s husband over visiting.  I went over to meet up with them (Mary and Joe) and to discuss Mary’s mother’s health and to update them on what the doctors were saying.  We had a good time of fellowship but I noticed that during our conversation, Joe kept using his hands to press about his chest.  When I inquired about it, he said that he had been having some discomfort and difficulty in breathing after exercise.  I urged them to see a doctor and they said that they would wait until they returned to Australia in a week’s time.  However, God graciously let their path cross with a friend who was a nurse who after observing the symptoms, insisted that Joe check into a hospital immediately.  So just two days later, I learned that Joe was in hospital and that the X-ray (or whatever scan it is that they do) had revealed an 80% blockage of one of the main arteries to the heart.  He was operated on immediately.  As they were without transportation, my wife and I assisted in getting Mary and relatives to and from the hospital and also made sure that they took time to eat and rest amidst all the stress.  I am glad to report that Joe’s operation not only went well, he was discharged after another night in hospital and actually made his way to my church care group Christmas dinner about 4 days later on the 23rd of December.

My Care Group Christmas Dinner was my next big activity.  I was the overall program coordinator and my wife was in charge of the food and refreshments.  We held it in a small restaurant which served us a buffet of Nyonya food which we supplemented with a couple of turkeys roasted by one of our members.  Altogether with invited family members and friends, we hosted about 60 people.  About half who came were non-Christians.  After a brief welcome by moi, we proceeded with the food.  The feasting crowd was entertained by the smooth crooning of one, Tom Tan.  Tom is a very good singer and he is part of a group called Tenors for Christ.  He mesmerised us with a lovely Christmas song and then proceeded to sing some Andrea Bocelli song which was lovely although not a single soul there understood the Italian lyrics.  Then we heard from two ladies from the group who shared how the significance of Christmas has changed for them now that they have become Christians.  Finally we rounded it off with hearty carol singing led by me as the guy assigned the role of song leading came down with a sore throat.

Thus ended the night before the eve of Christmas.  Now on Christmas Eve, my wife and I was invited to a friend’s home.  He was having an open house for Christmas.  He had invited a few of us and then told his teenage daughter to invite her friends.  At 7.30 pm, my wife and I were the first guests to arrive.  When we asked how many would be coming, he shrugged his shoulders saying that his daughter had tweeted just a couple of her friends about the party but had no idea who was coming.  Well, at 8.30 pm the place was swamped with some 100 young people.  Food was good. Fellowship was good.  The plan was to hang around and then start caroling until midnight and then wish each other a blessed Christmas but I left as the singing got underway because I had to prepare for my next big activity.

I was supposed to give the sermon on Christmas Day and I wasn’t feeling sufficiently confident so I left the Christmas Eve party early (about 11 pm) and worked on my sermon until about 3 in the morning before crawling into bed.  Christmas Service was at 10 am.  This year our church had to rent a nearby college hall for the service as we were expecting many people to come.  The young people performed a play that was based on different characters trying to audition for the different roles of a live Nativity play.  Of course, each of the characters reveal their attitudes and prejudices towards Christmas as they auditioned for the parts.  The main message in the end was that to understand Christmas is to understand that God loves us and our response should be one of surrender to Him, trust in Him and eventually leading to our proclamation of Him.  Praise God – the hall was full with more than 320 people attending and almost all of them made it through my short 20 minute sermon without falling asleep.  This was followed (in typical Malaysian fashion) by another feast.

As if that was not tiring enough, another friend invited us to a very special Christmas dinner party at a restaurant. Apart from celebrating Christmas, it was also the first time in years that his entire family was back in Malaysia at the same time.  Stealing ideas from my earlier Care Group party, he had Tom Tan singing again and I was once again press-ganged into leading the carol singing.

Considering I normally prefer a quieter Christmas, I have to say this Christmas was also very satisfying though tiring and through it all I did experience the joy of remembering God’s gift of Jesus on that first Christmas day.

With that, I will stop talking about Christmas.  However, I am sure it is only a matter of time that Hollywood will make a movie of it entitled “I Know What You Did Last Christmas”, which is my flimsy link to the picture at the top of this post.  Also I just kind of like Sarah Michelle Gellar – she is the cutie – 3rd from the left.


Light and Evil

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I had a busy one as we celebrated the coming of God’s gift of light and hope, Jesus Christ, to a dark and lost world.  Our church had a special Christmas service with songs, items and short sketches which we held in an auditorium of a nearby college.  It was wonderful.  We had about 320 people attending and at least 6 made the decision to invite Jesus into their lives that day.  A reason for even more rejoicing.

Another highlight for me was watching the CNN Heroes programme on TV on Boxing Day.  With Anderson Cooper at the helm, we were feted to the inspirational stories of 10 people who are making a difference in the world and doing their part to turn back the tide of darkness and evil.  Yes, evil.  For as much as we can rejoice and be inspired by their stories, we are also reminded about the evil that they are confronting – that we all are confronting, and that this evil dwells and emerges from the hearts of men.


We can debate the root causes why drugs, gangs and gratuitous violence has gripped many inner cities and communities but the important point is that kids are being killed and gunned down in the streets.  Life is cheap and life is dangerous for kids who have no safe place to go to but to wander the dangerous streets.  In many places, the community is just dying as mothers bury their children and lose hope.

Diane Latiker burned against the evil preying on the young and opened up her own home to all kids who wanted a place to go for food, advice, help or just to get off the streets.  She started the “Kids off the Block” project and has impacted more than 1,500 kids since 2003.


It is my heartfelt belief that the world’s economic system is inherently flawed and perpetuates a growing gap between the rich and the poor.  Efforts to change the status quo have failed because of the greed of a few and the selfishness of many.  However, it seems down-right evil when food assistance for the poor requires a 120 day waiting period or that mothers and babies die unnecessarily during childbirth because they are too poor to receive  life saving medical care or children going hungry in a country that is generally over-fed (and even wasting food in stupid food related challenges on TV programmes like MTV’s Spring Break; a big pet peeve of mine).  That’s greed and selfishness at work.

Thank God for people like Sal Dimicell and Bruno Serato who take it on themselves to help the poor and needy and to feed the children and Robin Lim for the 4,000 mothers and babies she and her team have helped in Bali, Indonesia.


We are depleting our world’s resources, poisoning the very earth, water and air that gives us life.  We praise ourselves for our smartness and technology but we are frightfully and criminally incompetent at managing our world.  Even with shrinking resources and higher demands, yet we do not have the wisdom not to continue wasting what we have.  So in parts of the world, hotels throw out millions of soap bars a year; many only used once.  At the same time, millions of children in other parts of the world die from diarrhea and other illnesses  each year, for which personal hygiene is a contributing factor and a simple thing like washing their hands regularly with soap can already make a big impact.  Derreck Kayongo, himself a former refugee from war-torn Uganda, is bridging the gap between these two worlds through his Global Soap Project, saving lives and fighting the evil of waste.


I had some trouble deciding how to title this section but I am reminded that Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.   It is about how we as a society tend to give attention to those that don’t need it (like the Kardashians) and like to look away or forget those who are in need.

There are the widows, spouses and family members who all paid the sacrifice for their country when their loved ones died in military service.  There are the football players who are celebrated and feted for their performances on field but forgotten and left to struggle on their own when afflicted by spinal injuries obtained on the field.  There are the bread winners in Mexico who became paralysed and have loss their ability to feed their families and also lost their dignity.  There are the orphans of Africa whose parents were loss to AIDS.   There are the children of Haiti still living in tents now, almost two years after the earthquake.  They are all people who need help but the spotlight is not on them, they have been forgotten or worse hidden from view by our collective selfishness and self centeredness.  But Taryn Davis (war widows), Eddie Canales (football injuries), Richard St. Denis (Mexican disabled), Amy Stokes (African AIDS orphans) and Patrice Millet (Haiti’s tent children) have not forgotten and challenge us all not to forget these people too.

For the full story, go to CNN Heroes 2011.

Of course, these 10 represent a whole army of people around the world that are putting others first and making a difference.  I am ashamed.  I had planned to do more voluntary work in 2011 and instead put it on the back-burner.  Perhaps this will give me the impetus and inspiration to do it this coming year.  My first new year resolution.

In contrast to this uplifting programme, the TV also brought news of more than 40 killed in Nigeria when several churches were targeted with bombs on Christmas Day.  A reminder of that evil is rampant and we are in a fight against it, in all its forms.

Maybe you will join me and do something to turn back the darkness in 2012?

It’s Still Christmas

This is a post about Christmas.  Why am I posting about Christmas when it is already the 10th of January?  Well, if you look at my new year’s resolution for 2009 and 2010, it was to “stop procrastinating”.  Sadly, in 2011, I have failed again! 🙂

As regular viewers will have read, 2011 has kicked off at warp factor 5 and I am only now trying to reunite mind and body after the hyperspace jump.  There! I hope that pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo will somehow reverse the techionic field and presto………a Christmas post!

Normally, when I have let time slip by on a post idea, I usually let it go to sink into oblivion but this one’s special.  I did something I hadn’t done for a long time at Christmas.  I thought about someone other than myself.

I confess that for various reasons, I tend to like to spend Christmas alone; away from the noise and celebrations.  For years, I have turned down invitations to Christmas parties in favour of a quiet night at home.  In the same way, although going house to house caroling was something I enjoyed in my youth, I have not done so for years.  Good grief, even as I type this, I am beginning to believe that I was turning into a Grinch.

Well, not this year!  Oops, sorry. Last year!  I joined a group from church to visit a children’s shelter.  This 3 bedroom single storey link house houses 24 children from the ages of 6 months to 16 years old.  Most are not orphans but were either abandoned or abused.  Some were given up by their single mother parent because of poverty.

It was a fantastic experience.  We sang Christmas carols, had our young storyteller tell the Christmas story, gave out presents (practical ones like water tumblers or shoes) and finally had a festive meal together.  Everyone from church joined in the effort from the young kids, teenagers, working adults and seniors.

Even though we were there for only about 3 hours, some of us were able to relate with the shelter kids.  It was also good to see some of the young people who come from privileged backgrounds also being able to reach out to these children at their level as real friends.  Already some of them help out at this shelter from time to time.

You know, this was one of the best Christmases I have had in a very long time.  The reason is that I looked beyond myself and my normal self-indulgent reverie at this time of the year and reclaimed the joy of telling others and sharing with others, “Joy to the World”.  If you want a merry Christmas or indeed a wonderful life, don’t hang on to it but give of your life to others.  Sermon ends.


Carol Singing
Our Storyteller - Weaves His Magic
The Captivated Audience
Festive Feasting Together

All photos by LGS.  Please note that this is pre-new camera and were taken on handphone.  Hence the less than desirable quality of images.


Cry of a Tiny Babe

Christmas can be a wondrous and joyful time full of the laughter and warmth of loved ones, family and friends.  For some, however, it can also be the loneliest time of the year.  Separated from loved ones by distance, circumstance or even death, the joyful celebration of others serve only to magnify the empty gnawing within.

I have experienced a few Christmases alone and lonely.  I still remember how cruel it can feel when walking the empty snow covered streets in the evening and passing by a window alight with the glow and warmth of the festive joy and happiness inside and knowing that you had no place there.  Instead, the cold biting wind reminds you that you are very much alone.

For those of us who are blessed with plenty, let us be grateful and thankful and remember those who have not such succor or comfort.  This following song by Sarah MacLachlan reflects just this magnification of loneliness, in this case, because of the passing of a loved one.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

But the whole message of Christmas is that God sent His own son, Jesus Christ, to be born in a manger more than 2000 years ago, on a mission to deal with sin and its consequences and to bring us all back under His love. No more need we fear death nor will we ever be alone again. Emmanuel. God with us. So many think of a helpless baby at Christmas, but so much hope and light enters the world for all time through this babe.

My second offering is a song by Bruce Cockburn called “The Cry of a Tiny Babe”. Not a great video but the song is great and do take time to read the meaningful lyrics.

May you have a blessed Christmas, surrounded by loved ones and the warmth of God’s love.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cry of a Tiny Babe
Mary grows a child without the help of a man
Joseph get upset because he doesn’t understand
Angel comes to Joseph in a powerful dream
Says “God did this and you’re part of his scheme”
Joseph comes to Mary with his hat in his hand
Says “forgive me I thought you’d been with some other man”
She says “what if I had been – but I wasn’t anyway and guess what
I felt the baby kick today”

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

The child is born in the fullness of time
Three wise astrologers take note of the signs
Come to pay their respects to the fragile little king
Get pretty close to wrecking everything
‘Cause the governing body of the whole [Holy] land
Is that of Herod, a paranoid man
Who when he hears there’s a baby born King of the Jews
Sends death squads to kill all male children under two
But that same bright angel warns the parents in a dream
And they head out for the border and get away clean

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

There are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums
And the message is clear if you’ve got [you have] ears to hear
That forgiveness is given for your guilt and your fear
It’s a Christmas gift [that] you don’t have to buy
There’s a future shining in a baby’s eyes

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe


Sur-ro-gate (verb \ˈsər-ə-ˌgāt, ˈsə-rə-\ ).    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, when used as a noun, a surrogate is one who is appointed to act in place of another or one that serves as a substitute.

As a Christian, I have never been happy with the commercialization of Christmas where the celebration of God’s love gift of Christ to the world has been substituted with a message of crass consumerism and materialism;  where the joy of giving has been replaced by the lust of receiving and where Christmas has been replaced by X-mas.

But this year, I have a new gripe.  I went to my local shopping mall today and as usual, all the normal over the top Christmas decorations were up. However, there was no jolly ol’ Santa entertaining the children;  no plump  fatherly character with a white beard and bright red suit;  no red nosed reindeer or friendly North Pole elves.  Good Grief, there were not even any Santa-rina’s in short skirts!

Instead, jolly Santa was replaced by the Grinch!  The Grinch, was decked out in Santa’s red costume and wandering the mall yelling out, “Merry Christmas” while doing some kind of dance.  Occasionally, he’d stop, bare his big yellow teeth and pat some child on the head.  The Grinch was not alone.  He was accompanied by what appeared to be a white faced Chinese Martial Arts Swordsman and a leprechaun. The theme apparently was “Christmas – Tis the time to be Fable-ous”.


My, my Santa........how green you look!

Most years at this time, I usually include some pictures or videos of Christmas lights, celebrations or decorations.  This year I am using the illuminated Font Magica Barcelona located at Montjuic, Barcelona as a surrogate.  Enjoy.


Font Magica Barcelona (Picture by LGS)
Font Magica Barcelona (Photo by LGS)
Font Magica Barcelona (Photo by LGS)
Font Magica Barcelona (Photo by LGS)
Font Magica Barcelona (Photo by LGS)


Carols from Trafalgar Square

Christmas Carolling at Trafalgar Square, 2009
The Christmas Tree from Oslo

One of the highlights of my current re-visit of London is Trafalgar Square. This historical square at one point used to be filthy and pigeon and dove infested. This has all changed and it has been transformed into a truly people friendly spot worthy of being a focal point for travelers and Londoners alike in the very heart of the city.

For many years, the people of Oslo send a tree as a gift to the people of London and it is erected at Trafalgar Square. There, under the watchful eye of Nelson’s statue and just across the way from the St. Martin’s in the Field church, the tree is often the spot from which choirs and carolers sing and celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ. It is a wonderful location and passer-bys get to sit on the steps leading from the National Gallery into the Square while enjoying the performances and singing along.

My wife and I were fortunate to be there on such an evening recently. The video below is of the same event in 2008. I have also included a video of Josh Groban singing one of my favorite carols, “O Holy Night”, which he is singing from Rockerfeller Center, the New York City equivalent of Trafalgar Square.

And so, dear friends, may I wish you a blessed Christmas from Trafalgar Square. May the light of love and hope that shone in Bethlehem’s streets, shine also in your life. God bless.

Christmas is….

Christmas is the time to remember that God reached out to mankind by sending His son to be born in a manger. It is the time to remember that the greatest gift ever given was God’s gift of His son; that the story that started in Bethlehem would end in Calvary; that by His birth, light entered the world and by His death and resurrection, hope and reconciliation with God. It is a time of celebration of God’s love gift.

It is a time for people to come together and even in celebration, reach out and share love with others.

It is a time to reflect thankfully of all that we have and remember those less fortunate.

Lights and Sounds of Christmas

As Christmas comes nearer, I am trying to put aside the distractions of the world and to really enjoy the season by remembering it is all about celebrating God’s love for all of us. I am trying to see, hear, smell, touch and taste Christmas. In doing so, I hope to share with you some of the things that make Christmas real to me.

I am going to start with the lights of Christmas. There is something magical about Christmas lights especially if reflected on the white snow. It also reminds me that Christmas is about light entering into a dark world to give us hope. I think also of the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem to see the baby, Jesus. There is no snow in Malaysia but I still try to get the Christmas lights out and decorate the tree (again no real pine trees so I miss the smell of pine) and it gives me a sense of warmth watching them flicker in the quiet of the night.

This following video might be a little overboard on the lights but I admire the guy’s spirit and his artistic creation.

Then there are the sounds of Christmas. For me carol singing and some seasonal songs are essential parts of Christmas. I enjoy singing along. With this next video I hope to capture part of the special sounds of Christmas. The song by the Drifters is one of my favorite popular Christmas songs.

Finally and perhaps most important for me is to also find some silence to remember the birth of Christ and to honor and worship him. This last video has Sarah MacLaughlin singing a very interesting version of my favorite carol, O little town of Bethlehem. The phrase “And in Thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight” reminds me of what was at stake with Christ’s birth. I am reminded that God loved us and He gave light to our darkness and hope for our despair. Have a Blessed Christmas everyone.