At All Times-Psalm 34:1

January 30, 2010

Especially Traditions: Treasuring God in our Traditions Part IV

Continuing my reflection series on Noel Piper’s book Treasuring God in our Traditions, I’d like to look at the “especially” traditions. In other words, those special, yearly events that you and I most often think of when we hear the word “traditions.”

Especially traditions include things like:

  • Holidays (Easter, Christmas, Fourth of July)
  • Birthdays
  • Family Reunions, Funerals, Births, Marriages

My husband and I have put a great deal of thought into our Christmas and Easter traditions the past few years. We have been seeking to establish family traditions that will root our children in the hope of God. When we live in a country that is certainly no longer a Christian one, even holidays that have profoundly sacred roots are immersed in the commercialism, materialism, and humanism of our day.

I do believe, as a new parent, one of the greatest battles I have to face with major holidays is that of competing with the intense excitement surrounding the nearly God-less traditions of the day. There is nothing wrong with participating in the cultural and social traditions that surround special days. They create family and social bonds that are an important part of life. However, we can’t let these things detract or distract from the more important bonds we are trying to cultivate within our family for the kingdom of God. Let’s take look at Easter because it is fast approaching.

Easter is designed to be a time of somber reflection over the sacrificial death of the Son of God on a cross, followed by great celebration of the hope and confidence of His resurrection. This is something of eternal value truly worth sharing to my children. But for a child, a candy-laden egg hunt, and a basket full of surprises one morning are both easier to understand and more readily enjoyable. How are deep spiritual truths to compete with immediate, tangible gratification?

I have felt personally convicted to establish my traditions in such a way that…

  • The majority of the traditions surrounding special days in our home can be directly and soundly linked to Biblical truth.
  • Traditions that don’t directly reflect the truths from Scripture that I want my children to know and understand should be done away with if they distract from the truths I am trying to communicate.

Here are three examples for Christmas in our home….

  1. Christmas Carols: Our family sings special Christmas carols together every evening for the month. These songs teach us the truths of Christ’s coming and allows us to mediate on them. The songs are great for the children to learn (some have actions), and singing brings the family together in an intimate way.
  2. Christmas Tree: We have chosen to keep a Christmas tree in our home during the Christmas season. Although I don’t believe most ideas of a Christmas tree are typically tied to the truths of Advent, we have chosen to display meaningful family ornaments on our tree. The ornaments reflect how our family has grown over the years and major events that have happened. This tradition doesn’t distract us in anyway from the truths of Advent and it provides a great way to see indirectly how God has been working in and blessing our family over the years.
  3. Santa Claus: We have chosen not to teach our children about Santa Claus at Christmas because the excitement that surrounds this fairy-tale figure is fluffy and weightless compared to reality of the birth of Christ. And more than that, it often becomes the soul focus of a child’s heart for the entire season.

The most important thing for me to keep in mind as a parent is that my children may not grasp the goodness and excitement of the mighty deeds of God at Christmas or Easter for years to come. But by faithfully teaching them these things, I am preparing for them to understand and enjoy them as God opens their hearts. Through our traditions may we plant many seeds of beauty and truth for when the soil is soft.

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