One of my favorite Broadway musicals is Fiddler on the Roof. I can still hear Tevye, the father, belting out in deep and loud tones the word “tradition.” Tevye found himself in constant conflict with newer ideas while he just wanted to hold onto the anchor of tradition.
Tradition is a bad word in today’s culture where nothing much is sacred. The unique and novel are the new custom of our day. Those who hold to tradition are tolerated at best and rejected and ridiculed at worst.
But there is a place for tradition. Some things are worth holding onto. While change is inevitable and often good, some things don’t need to change. Traditions really do serve as anchors to our soul when everything else seems to be in a constant state of flux. Indeed, I contend we need traditions to provide an island of sanity.
If there is ever a time of year when tradition seems to garner respect, it is the Christmas season, when families observe time-honored rituals as they celebrate the birth of the Savior. These traditions provide unity and strength to our fragile families. They are like a well worn pair of shoes-they feel good. Familiar customs also provide moments of real joy.
What are some of the traditional ways your family celebrates Christmas? A favorite practice at our house is to attend the Christmas Eve service together and then enjoy a Cajun meal. Our sojourn in Louisiana for seminary produced a great love of Cajun recipes that our children have also embraced.
Last year, I started a new tradition. I spent many days seeking the Lord for a word and verse of Scripture to support it to give as a gift to Polla and our kids. It would be a verse I would pray for each of them throughout the year. After all the presents had been opened, I told them I had one other gift to give. I shared a word and verse with each that would set the tone for the new year. I then prayed over each one and asked God to bring about in their lives the meaning of the word and the verse I had given them. It took Christmas to a new level. I am already seeking God for this year’s word and verse gift for our Christmas celebration.
Perhaps the longest-held tradition in our family centers around giving. We love to give gifts to one another, but our greatest joy comes in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Each year, we seek to make this our largest gift. Nothing could bring more joy than knowing that our gift carries the message of the Christ of Christmas to the world.
Today, 5,200 missionaries serve in our behalf in some of the darkest places on Earth. They shine the light of the Gospel into some of the last frontiers where the name of Jesus has never been heard. Long after the clothes are worn out, the tie is out of style or the game has stopped working, our missionaries will still be telling a lost world about Jesus. Come to think of it, so will I-through them.
So join my family in a time-honored and blessed tradition. Make your gift through your church to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Turn the lights on in a dark place. Tradition! It is a good thing!