You’ve heard it said that “We are all creatures of habit.” Habits allow us to get mundane or repetitive things accomplished without a great deal of thought. Confession: I am not a morning person. Waking up when the alarm goes off is hard for me. I am one of those folks who will set my alarm with the intention of hitting the snooze button a couple of times until I can figure out what planet I am on. I rely on my morning habit or routine because, the less actual thinking I need to do before I head out the door to go to the office, the better.
Then there are Traditions. This time of year we have transitioned with blinding speed from Thanksgiving to an entire Christmas season. A season full of things we do that carry an importance to them because of the special place and the special memories we have for them in our hearts. When my children were little, dough was rolled out on the counter amidst clouds of flour. Trays of cut-out cookies formed by little hands were baked. An explosion of sparkles, sprinkles and icing followed, transforming the cookies into edible works of “art”. On Christmas Eve, gifts under the tree always meant a new pair of “Christmas jammies” for everyone to sleep in, awaiting the next morning. These are traditions that continue to this day and now include grandchildren.
Because these traditions are rooted in love, I hope they are ones that continue to be passed down from generation to generation. Paul understood how important it would be that things of the Christian faith be passed down. Our readings today highlight this:
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.”
“So then, brothers and sisters stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
Paul also saw clearly from his days as a Pharisee that it was easy to elevate spiritual laws and traditions above God in a way that made them a stumbling block. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Over these next days as you wrap gifts, drive around looking at the brightly colored light displays, and drop change in the kettle, stop along the way with me and consider all the traditions that fill our December. Are we passing the days, handing off love in words and action that point to the Savior? Do our traditions speak words of truth about The Word of Truth, saying “You are valued. You are important. You are loved.”?