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In a few days, we will be celebrating the Chinese New Year. Of all the traditional Chinese festivals, the Chinese New Year is perhaps the most significant and colourful. It is a time for family reunions and grand celebrations. However, due to the pandemic and COVID-19 safety measures, the festive mood this year will be more subdued.

On 22 January, Mr Lawrence Wong, the Education Minister and co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF), shared his concern – that “the likelihood of more social activities and interactions during the Chinese New Year period could increase the risk of transmission.” He added that “last year’s Chinese New Year period saw many clusters forming due to unrestricted social gatherings.” In view of this concern especially with the approach of the Chinese New Year, the MTF announced new safety rules which took effect from 26 January: 1) Families can receive only a maximum of eight visitors a day. 2) Visits are limited to no more than two households a day.

Despite these new restrictions, we thank God that, with some adaptation, we are still able to celebrate the Chinese New Year with our families and loved ones. Given this liberty, let us be socially responsible. Celebrate safely by observing all the rules like wearing of mask, social distancing and following the limits set by the MTF.

This Chinese New Year will be very different from those of the past years. We will need to adjust to the “new normal” and celebrate with restrictions. However, there are many things that we can be thankful for: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess 5: 18).

1. God’s preserving grace. The Lord has kept us healthy and safe for the past one year since the start of the pandemic.

2. Stable situation in Singapore. While the virus is still raging in many parts of the world, the situation here is currently under control.

3. Availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore. To date, more than 155,000 people have taken their first dose of the vaccine.

Despite the pandemic, let us observe the Chinese New Year joyfully and meaningfully. As we visit our friends and relatives, let us be mindful of our testimony as Christians. While non-believers observe traditions and practices out of superstitious fear and belief, we must celebrate the New Year in a God-honouring way. We can be respectful to our elders without compromising our faith. Take advantage of the prevailing cordial, happy spirit to share our faith. It is also an appropriate time to make use of the red tracts with words like “Blessedness” and “A Blessed and Happy New Year”. Leaving one or two behind after your visit may bring the Gospel right into someone’s heart.

While much of the Chinese New Year celebrations and well-wishes centre on wealth and prosperity, we, as God’s children, must keep our eyes focused on the Lord and His spiritual

blessings. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” (Prov 22: 4).

Wishing everyone a blessed and joyous Chinese New Year!

– Pastor