Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reaching the Peak

In this day's exploration of Faith in a New China this group from Andover Newton Theological School experienced many peaks. We began the day having the opportunity to visit Tao Fong Shan's gift shop and see wonderful artistry for sale. We then gathered together with our brothers and sisters from Luther Seminary in Minnesota to have a pannel discussion about Faith in a New China. Our guest panelists were Rev. Jonathan Hu, Dean at Eastern China Seminary; Dr. Raymond Huang, Professor at People's University in Beijing; Dr. Otto Lui, an expert on House Churches; and Dr. Jason Lam, Research Fellow at Institute of Sino-Christian Studies. These four men provided much insight to us about Christianity in China, the influences of the Chinese government on Chinese Christian churches, myths and truths about House Churches. Andover Newton and Luther Seminary people were able to ask these four men questions of topics they desired more understanding. Having the opportunity to meet and speak with these men was the first peak of the day.

The second peak of the day was when some of the attended a Taize service for prayer and meditation at 12-noon, as we were invited, and the service was led by the leader of the Luther Seminary group. This half-hour service brought peace to mind and heart. The service included singing in latin, "Laudate omnes gentes" and "Christe Salvator," prayer, and a moment of silent contemplation. After the service we gathered for lunch, Andover Newton group, Luther Seminary group, and guests Rev. Hu and Dr. Lam.

Tonia Petty and Sheldon Hurst
The Chi Lin Nunnery grounds
After lunch we traveled to Nan Lian Garden at the Chi Lin Nunnery. This was the third peak of our day! We had with us a most wonderful and kind guide for the day, Josephine. The architecture is built with no nails; built like link 'n logs. The gardens had the most beautiful bonzai landscaping. Within the Lotus Garden were four golden Buddha alters. Below the gardens, in the temple, Nuns took part in worship and you could hear their chants broadcast throughout the Lotus Garden. Being able to walk the spacious gardens brought serenity and amazement. Peace was brought to the heart and mind through the design of each bonzai and the landscape of the entire gardens. There was amazement to the maintenance of each plant to maintain it's design. Towards the end of our visit to the Nan Lian Garden at Chi Lin Nunnery, the lay nuns emerged from their service, gathering in the front entrance of the Nunnery and Garden. With their faith so strong they all removed their robes of brown and yellow, enjoying one another's company, and so they scattered in socialization.

Sanctuary in the Won Tai temple

Josephine, our guide, and her great aunt.

devotees come for fortune telling
The third peak of the day was walking along the grounds of the Won Tai Shin Temple. The temple greeted us with shops decorated with items of reds and golds for sale, items for good fortunes, items to bring to the alters to ask for good fortune, and sticks of insense. It is here at the shop outside the Temple that we had the pleasure of meeting Josephine's great-Aunt. The Temple also greeted with preparations for the Chinese New Year. At this Temple we saw statues of the two dragons: Mother with baby under her foot and dragon with the world under it's foot. There were three golden Buddha alters, two small alters and then the larger alter (the main alter). Before the main alter were people praying with sticks of inscense, people shaking their container of fortune sticks, and people tossing onto the ground their fortune-reading pear-pits. In the front of the main alter was a display of the twelve animals of the Chinese New Year. Beyond the main alter and the statues of the twelve animals were several fortune tellers. After taking in the view of the Wong Tai Shin Temple grounds, Josephine brought us to the nearby mall to dine at a friendly Chinese restaurant.

The fourth peak of this groups day was the ascension, by bus, to Victoria Peak. Once at Victoria Peak we entered a mall, ascended to the mall's "Green Terrace" (roof top) to take in the view of Hong Kong. Victoria Peak is located on the western half of Hong Kong Island. At an altitude of 1,811 ft., Victoria Peka is the highest mountain on the island proper. The view was breath taking. The night view of Hong Kong all lit-up was better than any post-card or camera captured picture could capture.

Then for some there was a fifth peak to the day, the experience of the all known "Golden Arches" (McDonalds). Although we have all enjoyed the native Chinese food and have loved the tastes, some of us just needed to have a very familiar taste; a burger and some fries.

All of these peaks in this day's experience were breath-taking, peaceful, and full of amazement. What an experience in China so far as we learn and observe the Faith in a New China. Not only do we have the opportunity to interact with Buddhists and Chinese Christians, but we also got to share with brothers and sisters from Luther Seminary in Minnisotta, USA. We are thankful for the good teachers we have and have had. Dr. Hu shared with us a saying, "If you have a good master, you can be a good student."
We have been enjoying one another's company and laughter! "God is good all the time, all the time God is good!" Being given the opportunity to reach these peaks, God continues to show just how good God is!

1 comment:

  1. Hi everyone, I'm glad you are all having a blessed experience!

    Yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 12), Massachusetts had a major snow storm and ANTS was closed along with most of the state. Newton got about 15" and some towns got up to three feet of snow.

    Say hi to Buddha for me (lol). Best, Lydia