What Christmas traditions do you have? How did you come to follow them? Traditions link our past to our present. Traditions bring comfort … predictable practices we can anticipate and count on. Tradition says, “It’s always been that way” and subtly implies “it will always be that way.”
But what if you’re tired of tradition? What if some of the ingredients of tradition have changed?
Newly weds often face the dilemma of which set of parents to visit on Christmas. Adult children who long ago grew out of childhood traditions are often forced to “grin and bear it” for parents who take comfort in the past. And when one has lost a loved one and they are no longer here to take their part in traditions, then traditions can become a major source of pain.
I go back and forth between two fears. When I am miserable, I fear that it will always be this way. When I am happy, I fear that it won’t always be this way. I really needn’t worry because both are true in a positive way.
Some things will always be this way. God’s Love will never change. His hatred of sin and the penalties for it will never change. God’s Willingness to forgive will never change. Life with Him will go on forever … and He’s not done with Creation. He will endlessly create and change lives.
Therefore, some things won’t always be this way. Life is designed for growth. And growth comes out of change. That baby in the womb may have settled in for a long nap, but Life pushes him out of his comfort zone into a better place where he can grow and experience even more. If he were not pushed out, would he go? Probably not. If there were not some element of suffering at the point of death, would we choose to go on to eternal life? Maybe not.
What did Jesus say about the issue of change? First of all, He said He didn’t come to change some things. He didn’t plan to throw out the Law and the Prophets. He came to fulfill them and expand on them. “Don’t kill” became “don’t even think about it.”
But He also spoke directly about tradition. He bluntly said, “Your traditions have made My Word of no effect.” What did He mean? Whenever we can only see a thing as we understand it now and we are not willing even to try to see it a different way, we may miss tremendous blessings. When we refuse to move from where we are now, we won’t go very far.
There is a famous painting of an old woman. Imbedded in the picture of the old woman is a picture of a young girl. It is an interesting experiment to ask people what they see … because once you have seen one, it is almost impossible to see the other. Your brain captures what you thought was true and it seems not to want to let go. However, if you look long enough, then comes the “Ah-Ha” moment, when you see something new!
This Christmas, don’t look at the little baby in the manger so long you can’t see the Living Resurrected Jesus. Take your eyes off the traditional Jesus, the way you always thought He was. Look closer and feel the excitement of seeing Him as He really is. Look at Him alone until you begin to see the One Who will never change … but has all Power to change you into all He designed you to be!
Thus you have made the Commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
I the Lord do not change!
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed!
1st Corinthians 15:51-52
Behold I make all things new!
And He said to me, “Write, for these Words and true and faithful!”