Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thoughts on Tradition

There's a little problem with this thing called "tradition" that I'd like to comment on. Let's face it, at the heart of our makeup is this bent towards the traditional. We joke (or some of us don't) about our family traditions. Maybe for you it's always opening presents on Christmas Day or even holding a party at your house on New Years Eve. Perhaps this year you began a new tradition of going to a movie following your Thanksgiving Dinner ( a good decision this year since the football was hardly football.) Whatever it is, we tend to like tradition. And here's why. It brings comfort to a mostly uncomfortable life.

In the wake of a stumbling economy who can blame us for our desire for stability. Who can blame us for wanting to bring a little control to the situation that we find ourselves in. And I think we do this the best through established traditions that happen in any and all sectors of life. Corporations large and small have traditions. Nonprofits have traditions too of which churches are the most noteworthy. At this time of the year, some churches have the traditional focus on Advent (arrival) of the baby Jesus that culminates in the celebration of his birth on Christmas. Other churches realize and recognize that each sermon is about Christ and therefore don't give all that much attention to Christmas at all. Regardless of how you do it, or have done it, here's a new take on traditional.

I think (although I've been known to think wrongly) that tradition over time becomes bad for our health. Yes, for a time, it's nice and enjoyable but over time it becomes religious and something we do because "we've always done it that way." Not because we particularly like it. Not because we understand why we do it. But because it's the way things have always been. When it gets to this point, it becomes religious. And when it gets religious, we are generally doing it for all the wrong reasons. As an example, if we find ourselves in the discipline of reading through our Bible in a year (which I highly recommend), this simple act of devotion that starts out with excitement and a true desire to Know God, becomes monotonous, boring, and something we do because we can check it off of our "to do list." When we do seemingly religious things, we need to keep it fresh and stay focused in order to keep it from getting the best of us.

So, this year I invite you to celebrate a "Not So Normal Christmas." Do something different, exciting, and downright crazy in order to bring back the joy that tradition has stolen from you. We could use a little more joy! Don't you think?