Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Talk

If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know that one of my favorite Rootisms is "Traditions are for bonding not for binding." It's one of those oft forgotten principles that should be on a banner in every church auditorium and elders meeting room. Not because I said it, but because it's true. Too many people have no idea that there preferences and patterns have no foundation in scripture, and have no right being declared as the "correct way," the "right way," or the "scriptural way." While traditions have value as unity builders and fostering family uniqueness, they are tools not laws. For churches, if they don't contribute to helping people develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, they should - and must - be replaced.
Christmas provides an excellent illustration of this principle. The other day someone asked me if our family did Christmas on Christmas eve or Christmas morning. I said, "Traditionally, we do Christmas on Christmas eve, but this year we're having Christmas on Wednesday afternoon." (Christmas eve is Friday.) They quickly had a shocked look on their face - clearly saying, "You're not celebrating Christmas on Christmas?!!!!" I quickly explained that we have Christmas whenever we can get our family together. For us, even with our family traditions, the bigger principle is being together and making Christmas a family experience. That is more important than the Christmas eve tradition.
I think it's nearly always a safe bet that when a tradition stops being about people but a performance - it's time to let go of the tradition. It really doesn't take very long to create a new one. Like I've said about church traditions: Anything that's new, that can be done three weeks in a row without too many complaints - becomes a tradition.

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