Healthy Traditions

God so loved the World Manger Christmas

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
Mark 7:8

Last weekend I found myself watching my favorite Christmas movie again — Elf. My wife, my daughter, and I giggled all the way through the movie.

We have another tradition that my parents passed down to me. We have a silver ball on our tree that opens up — an elf ball. Kids are supposed to wake up in the morning and find candy in it from the elf. Honestly, our elf forgets many mornings, but my daughter who at this age knows better still leaves notes for the elf. She reads them to me, puts them in the ball in front of me, and makes sure to tell me that “she hopes the elf comes tonight” right before bed.

Traditions can be wonderful. But not always. Jesus confronted people in his day when he saw how their family, cultural or even pseudo-religious traditions of men had undermined faith in God’s Word.

Ponder this question: when do our holiday traditions become unhealthy? When might Jesus say something similar to us?

We don’t have to make Christmas special. It IS special because of what it celebrates. It’s Christ-time! It is a holiday because it is a Holy Day. God took on flesh to be our Savior. Wow!

Traditions pass down special things from generation to generation. The sacredness of Christmas, the holy-ness of the holiday, isn’t this what we want passed on more than any elf-ball or favorite movie?

I am thankful for many of the traditions that are taking place at Abiding Love this season. A beautiful Advent by Candlelight was held by our ladies. An advent devotional booklet put together that I am using at home. Last Sunday we had a group who went Christmas caroling. I am thankful for those who have been helping to make them happen.

But there are more traditions coming. This Saturday will be our Christmas for Kids VBS. Then our preschool/vpk Christmas programs on December 17-18. Of course our Christmas worship services. I welcome all of you to be a part of the traditions we have left this season to celebrate

Lord, during all the fun of the season, guard my heart that my holidays traditions can keep a healthy focus on Christ. Amen.

Peace in Jesus,
Pastor John Gensmer


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