The Year 2556?

I found out earlier that today is one of the most important Buddhist holidays, known in Thailand as Visakha Bucha (วิสาขบูชา). Celebrated all across Asia as a major holiday, Visakha Bucha marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha. Making it the Buddhist equivalent to our Christmas and Easter rolled up into one. It’s crazy to think how fundamentally different much of the world is from what we are used to in the West. For example; Christians often proudly boast how all of the world marks time by the birth and death of Jesus with B.C.(Before Christ) and A.D.(Anno Domini which is Latin for “year of our Lord”) making this the year 2013. But did you know that in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and Laos this is the year 2556?! They consider this the Buddhist Era (B.E.) and mark their dating system by the complete Nirvana of Buddha. Even though it could be said that the US is now a post-Christian nation, the influences of Christianity still run deep within the history of our country and much of the Western world.

Prayer incense used in worship. (Photo by Thibaud Saintin)

Prayer incense used in worship. (Photo by Thibaud Saintin)

It makes you realize how different of a “world” others still live in today, despite the fact that it is actually the very same world technically. It’s also a reminder of how great a need there is for the gospel of Christ to be proclaimed. When I lived in Thailand as an apprentice missionary before, many of the people I talked to had never even heard of Jesus! Paul said in Ephesians 2:17, “When [Christ] came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” No matter how “far away” some in this world may seem, Christ’s message of peace is for all and no one is beyond His reach (Acts 17:27, Isaiah 59:1). What a privilege it is as disciples to continue to spread this good news both near and far as we live out our lives for Him!

Click here to see more pictures of Visakha Bucha. 

 

By Gary 

 

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