Qing Ming Jie is the time of the year where people who observe it go to the tombs of their ancestors to remember those who are no longer living. It is a common practice for families to offer prayers, food, paper models/monies and joss sticks to the departed during these visits. Part of the goal of such visits is to “sweep” the tombs.
I am reminded of another important day which we observe during this same period. Christians remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday and the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. We also remember a tomb, but we remember an empty tomb.
Both Qing Ming Jie and Easter provide us with an excellent pause to consider the topics of death and life beyond this world.
The swept tombs during Qing Ming Jie do tell us something about life and death, the empty tomb in the Easter Story on the other hand tells us more.
- Through the swept tomb, we are reminded of the need to honor our ancestors and by extension our elders, in their death. Through the empty tomb, we are commanded to honor and love those around us, in life (Exodus 20:12, Mark 12:31).
- Through the swept tomb, we catch a glimpse of the care and love of living family members for those who have departed in the offering of yearly sacrifices. Through the empty tomb, we see human’s greatest need being eternally met in the risen Savior Jesus, who gave His life as a once-for-all sacrifice to decisively defeat sin and death (1 Cor 15:55-57).
- Through the swept tomb, we recall the good life of those who had departed and the need to uphold the legacy they left behind. Through the empty tomb, we are told of the One who lived a perfect life and died a perfect death so that all who believe in Him become joint-heirs with Christ, sharing in both His sufferings and His glory (Rom 8:17).
- Through the swept tomb, we are confronted with the brevity of life and by extension, our mortality. Through the empty tomb, we are reminded of the eternality of our souls and the decisions which determine their ultimate destination (Matt 10:28).
This season, let us conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the glorious hope we have in Jesus, the Risen Savior who left behind an empty tomb, one that needs no sweeping.
“..but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..” 1 Pet 3:15
Dn. Gideon Loh