Traditions! What do you think of when you hear that word?
The dictionary says it is a “belief or custom handed down from ancestors for posterity.” If you ask someone if their family has any traditions, usually things they do every Christmas will be shared.
We know we have established traditions in our family. But once your kids get married, they decide for themselves what ‘traditions’ to hold dear. Some of what is priceless to them might surprise you. I (Carla) wanted to change the color of lights on the Christmas tree. We had used white lights for years and I was ready for some color. My husband and kids had a fit. Literally. White lights it is. Merging four families plus grandchildren into the mix now is quite the adventure.
Has it occurred to you that you or other members of your family can be so wrapped in the ‘tradition’ that you miss the real meaning or purpose behind what you are trying to do? Jesus talked about this in Mark 7:7-8, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commands of God and hold to the traditions of men.” (NIV)
These verses got me (Joey) wondering how much of what we do personally is out of tradition versus true worship to God. As the stores are filled with Christmas cheer, I sometimes wonder if Jesus lived on earth today if he would come through and clear the stores out like he did the money changes in the temple. Please don’t get me wrong, in our home we put up many things that can be considered pagan, like a Christmas tree and wreaths. But we have also worked over the years to transition these things into tools to help us focus on the real meaning of Christmas which is the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We give gifts to each other in honor of His birth, but what are we giving to Him?
Let’s say you decide to do something around the Christmas dinner table this year. How could you know it would become an every year tradition for your family for generations to come? For instance, years ago, I found a Christmas quiz and gave it to my kids during our Christmas feast. It asked tough questions about the biblical meaning of the Christmas story. For instance, were there really only three wise men? I put their answers in a file and found it a few years later. I pulled it out and we all did it again. Afterwards, I showed them their answers from the previous time so they could compare and see how they did. When our kids started talking the next Christmas about what they were reading in the Bible about the Christmas story because they wanted to get the best score on the quiz that year, I realized I better get it out and add some more questions to shake things up. It’s been fun sharing this test with their spouses. Our kids still read up on the Christmas story before they come to celebrate with us now, beefing up their chances of getting the best score, and adding questions of their own to the quiz! (Their goal being to stump Dad of course!) Tradition!
As you go through this holiday season, we would like to encourage you to think about the traditions you are establishing in your home. How do they bring honor and glory to God? Determine you will do advent each day or at least weekly. Let the sound of Christmas songs celebrating the birth of our Lord ring through your home. Glory to God in the highest!