From Generation to Generation...

Do you have holiday traditions?  My family loves our traditions.  Serving at the church Thanksgiving Dinner has become a sacred tradition for us.  Going out the next day to cut down our family Christmas tree is a sacred day on our calendar.  The day after, we gather with my extended family for a delayed Thanksgiving Feast.

Christmas Eve is a fine tradition in my life.  Long before we ever started attending church regularly, we were “C&E Christians”—my earliest memory of a church tradition is holding high my candle and singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve.  That tradition has been passed on to my kids.  After that sacred moment, we go home and partake in our other Christmas Tradition—we put on our PJ’s, eat Christmas sushi, and open one present from our Elf on the Shelf.  Christmas sushi may sound like an odd tradition to you, but to us it’s essential to our Christmas Eve celebration!

Traditions change as the world around us changes.  Life never stays the same, and traditions never remain forever.  One day my kids may not be around to eat sushi with me on Christmas Eve.  I guess it’s not really about the sushi, is it?  Generations pass away, so the makeup of our gatherings change.  On Thanksgiving Saturday there are some that are missing and there are some that have been added, so I guess it’s more than just the meal? 

These holidays (holy-days) are a grand opportunity to consider traditions, and what they point us to.  It may be time to adapt.  It may be time to let go.  It may be time to start new!  It may be time to examine what is at the heart of our traditions.  The “how” of our traditional celebrations are important, but not nearly as important as the “why.”

Mary, upon hearing the angelic news that she is to be the Mother of our Messiah, visits her aunt and sings.  In her song of praise, The Magnificat, she proclaims “Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed…[God’s] mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”  May our traditions sing a similar song.

Like Mary, may our traditions magnify the Lord.  May we take time to consider the mercies of God from the past and the mercies of God at work in our midst.  May we look forward with the hope of an expectant mother at what God may be calling us into, and how that work will outlast us all.  May our traditions help us to realize that we are being wrapped up into a great work of God, and that our current songs may be sung by generations yet to come.  May we receive the good news that Advent brings, take time for this good news to take shape and grow within us, and may we treasure the gifts of generations past as we pass along that which is holiest to the generations that will come after us.

Blessed Advent and Merriest of Christmases to you, family.  We are blessed, indeed, from Generation to Generation.