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How Important Are Traditions?

Someone recently asked me what Christmas tradition helped me feel like the Christmas season had begun? That question perplexed me a bit having only experienced one Christmas here in Brandon. It made me realize I have no Christmas tradition here that I am anticipating.

I realize I am in a strange transitional stage where I must create new traditions. This is hard for me because I am one who normally wants to cling to traditions of my past. That got me thinking, what does scripture say about traditions. Jesus actually addresses the issue of traditions in Matthew 15. Not necessarily Christmas traditions but other customs that were normally practiced in the first century.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus because they were upset that the disciples of Jesus were not following a tradition that was normally important to Jewish people. In Matthew 15:2, the Pharisees approach Jesus, 2 “Why are your disciples breaking the elders’ rules handed down to us? They don’t ritually purify their hands by washing before they eat.” Now this is an odd little story that tends to distract those of us reading from the 21st century because of our understanding of the importance of hand-washing, but the point of this story goes deeper.

Jesus responds to the Pharisees by pointing out that sometimes we make a tradition more important than we should. He uses the example of the law, pointing out that the Pharisees follow the law of God when it is convenient to them, but they practice the traditions with a vengeance. Jesus is pointing out that sometimes we mix up what is truly important. We worry more about maintaining traditions than practicing acts of righteousness, mercy, or grace.

I think I have decided that I am not going to worry about creating new Christmas traditions. They will probably happen on their own with time. What I will be more concerned with is the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I walk into this Advent season, my focus will be on who can I love, who can I extend grace to, and who needs me to extend mercy.

Have a Blessed Weekend,

Pastor Jayne


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