Radiant Blessings: A Christian’s View of the Full Moon Festival in AsiaSeptember 28, 2023
By Philip Park, MNYD Asian American Ministries
As Christians, we’re no strangers to the profound significance of celestial events. The star that led the Wise Men to Bethlehem or the eclipse that darkened the sky at the crucifixion – the heavens have always played a part in our faith. But what about the Full Moon Festival in Asia, particularly for Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese? Can this luminous celebration hold any meaning for us believers?
It’s in our nature to honor and celebrate things together. That’s why every ethnic group has its own holidays. When a holiday approaches, people get excited about coming together to honor and celebrate something, affirming their identity and sharing friendship and intimacy with one another. Christians, being human, are not completely immune to these social and cultural phenomena. Therefore, Christians must have the wisdom to understand and respond appropriately to the spiritual aspects of the holidays.
In the heart of Asia, the Full Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival as some call it, is a radiant spectacle. Families gather beneath the resplendent moon, their faces aglow with joy, and they offer thanks for the harvest. Lanterns of all shapes and colors light up the night, creating an ethereal world beneath the open sky. And here’s the kicker – the moon is at its fullest and brightest during this festival.
Let’s journey into the vibrant tapestry of the Full Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving, from a Christian standpoint.
Picture this: The air is crisp, leaves ablaze with hues of amber and gold, and the aroma of freshly harvested rice wafts through the air. That’s the Full Moon Festival, a radiant celebration where families in the Far East gather to honor the autumn harvest, their heritage, and their loved ones.
Gratitude at the Core: At the heart of the Full Moon Festival is an attitude of thankfulness. Families gather to express gratitude for the year’s abundant harvest. As Christians, this resonates deeply with us. Gratitude is the heartbeat of our faith; it’s not only for earthly provisions but also for the spiritual blessings God showered upon us.
Family and Unity: The Full Moon Festival, much like our own holiday gatherings, places a strong emphasis on family. It’s a time to fortify bonds and share love, echoing the importance of unity and love within our families and the broader church community.
Honoring Ancestry: It isn’t just about the present; it pays homage to ancestors too. We, too, possess a rich spiritual heritage – saints and believers who’ve paved the way. We remember them through traditions like the Lord’s Supper and the wisdom passed down through generations.
Sharing Abundance: Just as mouthwatering dishes and Full Moon Festival delicacies are shared during the festivities; Christians are called to share our blessings. The story of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus multiplied meager resources to feed multitudes, reminds us of the power of sharing and generosity.
Harvest of Souls: Although it celebrates an earthly harvest, Chuseok also prompts us to reflect on the spiritual harvest. It’s an opportune moment to ponder the souls we can reach and invite into God’s family.
Sharing Blessings: In many Asian cultures, mooncakes symbolize well wishes and blessings, much like our own practice of sharing bread and wine during communion. The act of giving and sharing during the festival harmonizes with our Christian values.
In the end, the Full Moon Festival, with its luminous moon, enchanting lanterns, and messages of unity and gratitude, serves as a poignant reminder of God’s boundless creativity and love. It underscores the significance of coming together as a community and relishing the wonders of His creation. So, when you next gaze upon the full moon illuminating the night sky, consider it a reminder of the enduring light of Christ, forever radiant even in our darkest moments. Christians are to value and accept all things spiritually according to the Bible. Holidays are no exception to this. Neither the degree of kinship, nor the identity and homogeneity of a people, nor the Word of God by which the whole universe was created, can take precedence. Therefore, people should live their lives with a deep consideration of what they value more and what they value less (Matthew 6:24).
I hope this creative perspective on the Full Moon Festival and Chuseok resonates with your Christian viewpoint. Feel free to adapt and personalize it to your liking!