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Dear COA Family,

Cain and Abel were the first set of brothers in the Bible. However, their relationship ended in tragedy. Because of Cain’s envy of Abel, he attacked Abel and killed him in the field. As a result, God placed a curse on Cain for the rest of his life. (You can read of the entire account in Genesis 4:1-12.)

Another set of brotherly relationship recounted in the Bible ended too in tragedy. Jacob and Esau were twins but ended up tussling with one another for the birthright. Eventually, Jacob the younger son won the blessing through deceit, but had to live in fear of retribution from his brother Esau all his life. (See Genesis 27.)

Their animosity against each other extended down to their children as well. Esau’s descendants, known as the Edomites, stood idly by as Israel’s enemies attacked them. Instead of helping, the Edomites gloated over the downfall of the Israelites and even helped to kill the weak and seize their wealth. The Lord was so furious with the Edomites at their behaviour that he vowed to wipe out the Esdomites from the face of the earth (Obadiah 1).

Family relationships can be difficult and complex. There can be misunderstandings and even intractable conflicts among siblings. However, this is not God’s will. He has placed us in families to receive and give love. He is grieved at the disunity and disharmony that happen in our homes.

That is why Jesus came to earth to show a better way. He came to make his brothers and sisters – his earthly family – holy through his death on the cross (Hebrews 2:11). Instead of retaliating against his enemies for his death, he brought about mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation to them. His blood speaks of a better message than that of Abel’s blood which cried out for vengeance (Hebrews 12:24).

At this time of visitations in Chinese New Year, let us be instruments of peace and reconciliation to our family members and loved ones. We can do so because of Christ’s light which shines upon us and within our hearts. As we do so, we bring about forgiveness and hope that will break the cycle of hurt and despair. So may we all act and respond in God’s love and grace in all that we do.

May you experience a blessed New Year filled with breakthroughs in your lives!

Revd Ian