Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year and occurs in April every year. It is one of the main holiday times for people in Thailand with many people returning to their hometowns in order to spend time with their families.
A central part of the celebrations is a ceremony where the young pay respect to the old by pouring water onto the cupped hands of the elderly. In turn, the elderly bless the young as they pour the same water back onto the shoulders or back of the young person. It is a moving and beautiful ritual that demonstrates the importance of the connections between the generations.
I think this ceremony gives us a picture of the sorts of relationships that should exist between the generations in the church, with the younger showing respect to the more elderly, and the elderly blessing and releasing the young.
Perhaps it is also a picture of what life should be like for all of us in the church. When we enter into the new life that Christ gives us it changes the nature of our relationships with each other. No longer are we out for what we can get from others, but rather relationships within the church are to be characterised by this mutual giving and receiving. We give, not expecting anything in return, but with enough humility to accept what may be given when it is.
This is something of what it is to love one another. And this love doesn’t come from within us. Just as the water flows from younger to older and back to younger in the Songkran ceremony, it is the water of God’s Spirit that flows between us in the church as we give and receive. At Songkran the water is scoped up in small bowls from a central container. So too we must continually come back to the source of love, to God himself, if we are to love as He would have us.
Andrew serves with his family in South East Asia.