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The empty tomb is full of hope

This year a significant Chinese Festival and the Christian celebration of Easter fall on the same day. One CMS worker reflects on what differentiates these two occasions and what they have in common.

Sunday 4 April is Easter Day this year, the day Christian believers celebrate the empty tomb and the new life bought for us by Jesus. 

For millions of people in East Asia, the same day marks another commemoration—the Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day. This traditional Chinese Festival is hundreds of years old and is celebrated throughout several countries in East Asia.  

Looking for hope 

Tomb Sweeping Day acknowledges those who have come before. Families and descendants clean graves and tombs, burn incense, offer prayers and bow at the graves of ancestors. Sometimes flowers and food are offered at the graveside. The hope is to secure comfort for their deceased relatives and perhaps gain favour for themselves in return. After the ceremony families might share a meal, plant seeds and perhaps put on new clothes.  

Mourning and celebrating 

Tomb Sweeping Day and Easter share ideas of rejuvenation and growth. Whether it’s wearing new clothes in East Asia or an Easter Hat in an Australian school parade, we are united in the mourning of death and the celebration of new life. But without the resurrection we are trapped in a cycle of death without any hope for eternity. 

This Easter Sunday two kinds of memorial services will be held. At one the tomb holds the remains of a departed ancestor, at the other the tomb is miraculously empty.  

When you celebrate the empty tomb this year, remember to pray for those who are sweeping tombs and desperately need to know the one whose death and resurrection enabled us to enter new life. 


Pray for those who do not know the certain hope found in the resurrected Jesus. Pray for those sharing the gospel throughout East Asia that God will open hearts to his good news.