Here in Ulan-Ude, it is ushered in by fireworks bursting all over the city and carrying on until the next morning.
As we have explained previously, December 25 isn’t seen as Russia’s official Christmas Day, but the churches have adopted the practice of celebrating with the children and emphasizing family on a Sunday nearest the 25th. Our church chose the 28th. In preparation the Sunday school team began planning in November. Sadly those initial plans were waylaid for health struggles and other issues. Life is like that, and adaptations are made resulting sometimes in something even better than first planned.
A suggestion the Lord brought to Lisa that was to compliment the original plan ended up more prominent in the second plan. Traditionally, our church gives out the names of each of the children and the congregation buys them gifts presented on the Sunday we celebrate. This year Lisa suggested helping the children focus on giving more than receiving by making some homemade gifts for each family or unit in the church. We started making cinnamon, applesauce ornaments with the older class, cards with the middle group, and gift boxes with the youngest children the end of November.
Skipping S.S. the first week of December, our church celebrated the wedding of a couple whose testimonies of God’s grace are amazing. We spent the next couple of weeks painting and finishing projects. The favorite week was making candy cane cookies! We, of course, had to taste them; but only AFTER, we had formed all the dough:). Watching how the children participated more readily each week that we worked on the projects and how joyfully they handed them out on the 28th blessed and encouraged our hearts. Before the children handed the gifts out, the children’s choir sang and several families agreed to either sing, recite, play the piano, or do a skit, then Lisa read the legend of how the candy cane was made and a poem–yes, in Russian in front of the entire church!
Look at the Candy Cane Посмотрите на Леденец
What do you see? Что вы видите?
Stripes that are red Полосы, которые красны
Like the blood shed for me Как кровь, которую пролил за меня Христос.
White is for my Savior Белые – мой Спаситель
Who’s sinless and pure! Который безгрешен и чист!
“J” is for Jesus My Lord, that’s for sure! “J” – это Иисус, мой Господь, это точно!
Turn it around Переверните его
And a staff you will see И вы увидите посох,
Jesus my shepherd Иисус Пастырь мой
Was born for me! Родился для меня!
Sharing about our Savior’s birth provides a golden opportunity for evangelism at English club. We had a great time singing and sharing the Christmas story. Bruce shared a chalk art of the nativity along with a Christmas cookie account of the birth of Christ.
We sang the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with flare and made paper ornaments.
We hope the new year will have much fruit as we share our lives as well as God’s truth with these precious young people.