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JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON Jesus had a humble entrance into this world, but He left magnificently with the parting gift of salvation, ultimately promising us our freedom from sin through Him. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born 2

to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and al who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:1-20

{FROM THE EDITORS} RENEWING Christmas break is finally here! It doesn’t feel like three weeks since Thanksgiving break, though—more like three months. December has dwindled into a countdown until GRACE, an annual conference held either in Illinois or Indiana. But my reasons aren’t positive. Lately, I’ve felt less inclined to do things. I’ve procrastinated until the last minute to do homework, to study, to play piano. I neglect what I have to do because I can, which is probably the worst excuse ever. Anyway, I’ve recently realized that my mindset for GRACE isn’t the right mindset. I’m anticipating the spiritual high I’m going to get. I’m anticipating how great I’ll feel afterward. Which leads to another tangent (sorry)—what will I do when the spiritual high wears off? What will happen when I no longer feel the passion for God? For me, winter break right now is a time to get myself together. I need to refocus on Je-

sus and I need to remember what he has done for me. Christmas isn’t all about the gifts or the decorations or the shopping—no, Christmas is about the beginning of eternity and our relationship with Jesus. This winter break, I am going to relearn how to prioritize so Jesus is first. I’ll have to rethink my schedule and I have to learn how to say “no”. I will have to deny myself the pleasures. I will need to carry on, even when it’s hard, even when I don’t want to and even when I feel as if I cannot. I am no longer motivated to pray or read the Bible, so I hope that you all will pray for me to find the motivation! I’ll also pray for all of you who need motivation too! [Editor’s Note: Sorry this is such a short article and sort of depressing for the Christmas season.] Anyway, I hope you all have moments in mind from 2013 that you will miss, and New Years’ resolutions to make! I’ll be here in 2014, renewing my relationship with Christ.

— Michelle Shen 3

WAITING AND HOPE Oh my goodness! Christmas is four days away and I still haven’t gone Christmas shopping… the struggle is so real. For some reason Christmas definitely crept up on me without my knowing this year. I didn’t even listen to Christmas music until a few days ago! But I think it was because with the rush of finals and coming home from college, I left no time for myself to reflect on the meaning of Advent season. You know how on Christmas Eve you might attend a church service and then on Christmas Day you’ll probably stop to think about how glorious it was for the shepherds to see the star above Bethlehem and you’ll picture the three wise men and little baby Jesus with Joseph and Mary in the stable? The single word that comes to my mind now is hope. Jesus is our Emmanuel, the greatest gift ever given to the world. And I always feel this warm fuzzy feeling in my chest on Christmas Day when I think about this amazing hope we have in Christ, especially when I’m with my family around our Christmas tree with all the lights and tinsel and the snow outside. So what is Advent? I actually didn’t know this was a thing until the first Sunday of December when I celebrated Advent with Knox Presbyterian Church, the fellowship I attend in Ann Arbor. But for those of you who might not yet know either, Advent is a four week preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day. Ad-

vent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent, then, is a time where we as Christians are reminded of the longing of the Israelites for their Messiah, and the expectant faith that the Jews exhibited. It is a time when our own hearts are quieted by the realization of our desperate need for a Savior. What resonates with me the most from what my pastor said, though, is the story of Mary and Elizabeth. Both cousins had lived in an era when all hope was about to be lost. Four hundred years of God’s silence had already ensued when all of a sudden an angel visited Mary and another angel visited Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, both proclaiming good news. In a moment’s notice, hope had suddenly been reignited, and I love how despite the bleak circumstances surrounding Mary and Elizabeth, they overflowed with a joy that could not be contained from the glory that they knew was coming with the birth of Jesus. That is what Advent means—to have hope in a future glory with Christ even when the world around us seems to have no hope. I’ve already lost a lot of time during Advent season with other distractions, but in these last couple of days leading up to Christmas, I would like to remember what Christmas really means for me. Through Jesus’ birth we have been given life, and we have since been called to give others a taste of this same love. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than this.

— Sharon Shen 4

COLLEGE AND GOD… OR NOT? judgment. I've been thinking about it a lot; was I really that disconnected with God that I became so unaware? On a lighter and more hopeful note, a couple days ago I went to a church in Cranbrook, and it was the most beautiful church I've ever seen (I rarely go to churches...). And I took the liberty to pray. It was a long praying session, and during that prayer I've come to realize that you have to WANT God in order to actually start glorifying him and becoming devoted to him. My hope is that in the new oncoming year, I will change my actions for Him. I'm really glad I went to that church. Okay, AWESOME PICTURE TIME! I finished this drawing sometime this week, and it's an Anthony Cao with wings! :D He requested a picture from me for like two years now, and I finally got around to drawing him one hehe. He likes to travel yeeeee.

Hey Oasis peeps, it's Katie here, long time no write from me! I entered college this year, and I want to say the journey so far has been amazing. New people, new environment, and so many things to do! But… I've been lacking on the religious part of it. I can't say that I've been "too busy" to be focusing on God, because honestly, after the college hype for the first few weeks, I find myself having a lot of free time than anticipated. But I haven't been using any of that free time on God. In the beginning I said that I'd go check out a couple of the youth groups around campus, but I haven't even gone to a single one. Guilty of my actions, I push the thoughts to the back of my mind. As a result, I don't even think about God as much as I should. There is something that I couldn’t get out of my head for the past month. A month ago, I was sitting with a few friends at a table, eating lunch (for all of you who remember Dante, he was there hehe). As I began eating, I noticed that R (let's call him that) had his eyes closed. I thought he was sick or tired, judging by his expression, so I asked his friend next to him, "Is there something wrong with him?" And you know what his reply was? "He's praying." At that moment, I felt stupid, ashamed, and naive of my

— Katie Zhong 5



There are times when I forget one of the

stayed around 3 or 4 days for each visit and the

most important things in my life: family.

opportunity opened up to have a little talk with

I didn’t fully realize how big my family was

all of them. I was able to share parts of my testi-

until I came to Taiwan. Family wasn’t important to

mony and what God had been doing in my life

me in the States; I did what I needed to do and I

(and still is), but because of my limited Chinese

did what I wanted to do, whether that was going

abilities, I couldn’t clearly communicate the pas-

to church, school, or even just hanging out with

sion I had for God and the love He displayed for

friends. I’d forget about my family for a little bit;

the whole world. But aside from that, they talked

I’d come home late and my parents would al-

a lot about my family and my mom.

ready be asleep. I became accustomed to the ab-

It hit me then how much my parents had

sence of my brother once he graduated and

sacrificed for my brother and me. Looking back

moved away. I settled into a lifestyle I didn’t

at my old self in America, I now realize how ri-

question, but I should have. My family was only

diculously unappreciative and immature I was.

there to support me, feed me, clothe me, provide

My mom stayed home watching that house

a place for me to live, to be there financially when

while my dad worked really hard to pay off all of

I needed it, and ultimately be there to “serve” me.

the living costs, just so I could drive out to meet

Although it sounds harsh, I acted that way. I felt I

my friends and do questionable things.

deserved to be served in this way because I was

It’s sad how we go to church and yet

part of the household.

don’t give an extra thought about our parents at

But even through all the thank yous and all

home. I’ve always thought about God, God, and

the times I acknowledged what my parents had

God—which isn’t bad in a sense, but throughout

done for me, I didn’t realize how much they had

Scripture God points us towards our parents. To

ACTUALLY done for me, until the day I arrived at

obey them, to honor them, to love them, to re-


spect them, to think about them, to thank

Traveling from Taipei to Xin Zhu to

them—the list goes on and on. I’ve always

Taizhong to Gangshan, I visited three aunts, two

thought of respecting God, of loving God, of

uncles, and finally my maternal grandparents. I

seeing God as a father—but if I don’t see my 6

parents as they are and love them, how am I

apologize for being such a disobedient son. I

supposed to love God at all? Honestly, our par-

want to make sure that for the rest of my life, I

ents are great and wonderful examples of sacri-

continually desire to know them better, to

ficial love. Your whole life revolves around your

serve them better, and to love them better.


Thank you, God, for proI



viding me a wonderful

grandpa as he spoke of how

family through your kind-

great my mom was, how

ness and goodness. Let me

much she had sacrificed for

understand this kind of

me, how she gave up her

sacrificial love that you

dreams, goals, and ambitions

have for us. Teach us to be

to lay down her life for the

humble and grateful for

lives of her sons. She be-

all that we have, and

came a loving mother who

teach us to serve our par-

was ALWAYS there for her

ents by being obedient










much time it took. It saddens

daughters. Teach us to

me that I’m so far away now

love them

and I can never gain back

their wishes for us as

the times I didn’t spend with

much as we love and pur-


sue your wishes for us.



This Christmas, hold close to your family

Teach us to respect them in all circumstances

and your loved ones. My maternal grandfather

whether we feel it or not. As we stand here in

is 75, and I can’t imagine the respect and love

awe of your power and amazed by your grace,

my mother has for him. He has done his job and

show us how to display this kind of sacrificial

now my parents are doing the same for me. Life

love. To you be glory and honor forever and

is short; one day my parents will pass away, but

ever. Amen.

— Brian Wu

before that happens, I want to repay them and



God can speak to those who are willing to receive and listen. I loved and felt relief when people prayed for me—verbalizing myself is such a challenge for me. I didn’t need to outwardly express myself for them to understand me because God would speak on my behalf. I’d like to say the confirmation bias was mostly nonexistent, for those critics of prophecies. A girl named Fei Fei (Faith) spontaneously approached me saying she felt called to pray for me. I had seen her a few times throughout the conference and she was quite inspirational in her faith, single-minded and energetic. She looks almost younger than me, but was actually 23. Not sure what that means.. Anyway… While she tried to describe me, she started comparing me to what kind of animal most represented me to give me a better sense. She began with my resemblance to a cat (hilarious), but moved on because cats are a little bit too mean. I wasn’t a lamb, exuding cuteness and dependence; not a horse, high-handed and flashy. So, she settled with a mountain goat.

Sophia told me Fei Fei had once likened her to an animal, too.

Sophia’s an eagle because of her emphasis on intelligence. She could “fly above the storm and see the sun”. Insang Hwang thought these animals were pretty great, so he headed off to talk to Fei Fei with Newton and Kevin.

(A note before I continue: these drawings are pretty bad. But not bad enough to be funny, just bad enough to be embarrassing.)

Insang is a lion; he’s courageous and “not afraid to jump into situations”.

I am a mountain goat because I am able to “climb those mountains and overcome the obstacles”. I have horns to “protect others”. 8

Kevin Lim is a centaur because he is loyal and unique (mythical?).

Initially, Fei Fei found Newton to be adaptable to many different circumstances, thus a shape shifter. But then, she started working towards and idea that Newton was like an ant. While I found this pretty offensive to be compared to an ant, it was because he could “slip through cracks that no one else could fit into” and to “carry more than he thinks he can”.


— Ann Liu 9


GIVE TEDDY PRESENTS [Editor’s Note: It’s okay if you don’t give Teddy presents. No stress!]

Jesus Christ is born Angels and Shepherds rejoice A gift for us all!

— Teddy Du 10

FORGOTTEN FRAGILITY Today I return to the me before

Today I sought after God again

What past I love, what desires I adore

Tried to let go, let Him win

Always sought for less than more

So caught up in all of my sin

A chasing after the wind

A prodigal son run away

Today I thought I won

Today God has grace and



Until I realized the

Even in chains I have been set

temptations of human



Dead and blind but I can still

Avalanching downward


before I relived such

If I can only truly believe

fragility We were never strong


enough. Were we?

What will today be?

— Peter Sun 11



“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” —Isaiah 9:6

— Hongying Jiang 12

[SURVEYS] What do you usually eat on Christmas? What is the best gift you have ever received?

When do you put up your Christmas tree?

When do you start listening to Christmas music? 13



Melody + Michelle

Love your Editors,

Christmas Vine