I like these little red envelopes for the Chinese (Lunar) New Year.
Banks and grandparents and generous neighbors hand out these special "lai-see packets" here in Hong Kong, and children have learned to be hopeful. Usually inside these special red envelopes you will find:
- chocolate coins or other candy
- best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year
(Alas, the chocolate coins from the envelopes in the photograph above were eaten too quickly for digital posterity. Sorry.)
I thought it a little ironic that banks are the main distributors of the little envelopes. Yeah, they should be wishing everybody a happy & prosperous new year.
I'm delighted to report that Pastor Wong handed out lai-see packets at church this Sunday! And not just for the children, we adults got them too!
(An aside -- Wayne & I went to our 5th different church in 5 weeks this Sunday and believe it or not, each church we've gone to, we've both said, "We could belong to this church. We like this church!" Those of you who know what basically critical people we are might be amazed at that. And it's not like the churches were all that similar... one was Lutheran, another Taize-style, a Pentecostal-Anglican church, and two "community" type churches. Is it because each church is an international church, with many different cultures represented? At the sharing of the peace this past Sunday, we shook hands with refugees from Africa, "guest worker" domestic servants from the Philippines, corporate executives from the United Kingdom, a retired Christian bishop from Pakistan, a pastor from Hong Kong, and a pastoral assistant from Scotland! All brought together through Christ's body. Pretty amazing.)
Regardless of our age or culture, we were all quite happy to get our lai-see packets, our red envelopes, as kind of a benediction upon leaving the sanctuary.
Along with best wishes, and a chocolate coin (I like this church!) we got a card with a verse of Scripture on it:
My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. -- proverbs 3:1-2
When Pastor Wong gave us the benediction, she didn't say "The Lord bless you and keep you", she said,
The Lord bless you and "take care of you". I liked that. May the Lord bless YOU and take care of YOU this New (Chinese lunar) Year.
And may there be many of the Lord's red envelopes for all of us, from corporate execs to immigrant workers, in this year ahead.
p.s. Click here for crafts or young family activities with a Chinese New Year theme... you're on your own for adding the spiritual content, but I think you're up for the challenge!