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{Prayers for Taiwan} Qing Ming Jie (清明節) or Tomb Sweeping Day

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There’s a national holiday this weekend in Taiwan, and if you’ve lived in the western world all of your life, it’s one that you’ve probably never heard of:  Qing Ming Jie (清明節), literally “Clear Bright Festival,” or more commonly known as Tomb Sweeping Day.

Tomb Sweeping Day actually resembles the U.S.A.’s Memorial Day as it is a day to remember those who have passed away.  It is a time for families to come together to honor their deceased loved ones and a time for the nation to pay tribute to important leaders of the past.

This holiday dates back centuries and is rooted in Chinese religious beliefs and customs.  Because of the acceptance of several world religions (Taoism, Buddhism, etc.) and many folk religions in Taiwan, local people hold various views of the afterlife.  However, whether they believe in reincarnation of the soul or that ghosts wander in search of their final resting place, most Taiwanese people at least agree on the belief that the deceased must be looked after and cared for by their living relatives.

Thus, there is the need for a day set aside to honor and care for the dead.  On Tomb Sweeping Day, families venture out to the countryside to visit ancestral burial sites and then spend time enjoying the outdoors together.  They clean weeds, dirt, and debris from the tombs (hence, the name “Tomb Sweeping”).  They offer sacrifices of food to the ancestors, they kowtow (a bowing ritual) to show respect, and they burn paper money to send to their relatives in the afterlife.  The Taiwanese believe that they must do these things in order for their ancestors to be at peace.

We see quite a contrast to this worldview in the Bible.  In Revelation 21:4, John describes a new heaven and a new earth saying that “‘[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  The picture that the Bible paints of heaven is one of peace and joy and the perfection of being in the eternal presence of God.  For the Taiwanese, the afterlife is simply an extension of this earthly life of pain, suffering, and need.  Please pray with me that the Taiwanese people will come to know and experience the freedom that Christ offers, even freedom in death.  Pray also for Taiwanese Christians who wrestle with finding the balance between showing respect to their families and removing themselves from the rituals of ancestor worship.  Let’s lift up Taiwan on this important weekend.

*Click to read other posts in my {Prayers for Taiwan} series.

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