You Will Be Made Rich

Pastoral Reflection for January 12, 2022 by Pastor Jenna Bergeson

When I think of “New Years,” you know what I think about? I think of fireworks, big meals and flowers; I think of lions and dragons, dancing, and the color red - everywhere. Five years in Malaysia and Hong Kong forever imprinted in my memory the sights, sounds, and smells of Chinese New Year celebrations (which is Feb 1-15, this year). For most East Asians, Chinese New Year is like the equivalent of “Christmas” for Westerners; it’s a time for family, special meals, time off - and yes, a sizable dose of consumerism and commercialism too.

As I first started learning about some of the main tenets of Chinese New Year, I remember feeling confused about how my Christian brothers and sisters could celebrate it with such jubilation. Some of the resounding themes around the festival include messages of wealth, prosperity and good fortune. And one of the main traditions around the festival is handing out red envelopes (“ang pao” in Malaysian; “dòu lì shì” in Cantonese) that contain money for family, friends and employees.

But when I hear the words “prosperity” and “Christianity” together, my mind immediately jumps to the “prosperity Gospel,” a theology that suggests that God rewards or blesses the faithful with financial