Man to Man -- Sharing Faith through Tradition


I know I said that I would be taking a hiatus from MAN TO MAN, but I find I have one more thought I’d like to share with you during this Christmas time. It would have been better shared before Advent, but I feel it’s important enough to share at this late date.

As you may know, I have referred to the movie FIDDLER ON THE ROOF a couple of times in my articles. One of the most memorable songs, and expressions, in the movie is TRADITION. While many scenes depict the impact tradition has on our lives, the most powerful one for me is the sequence at the Sabbath table. The children watch and listen as their parents perform the ritual, speak the liturgy, pray the prayers, sing the hymns, at home! They are steeped in this!

I would like to share with you a tradition we began as a family when our children were young. When our daughter, the oldest, was in about the third grade, they made a simple Advent “wreath,” in Sunday School class. Three blocks of wood, with holes drilled in them, glued together, and painted green. And they received a little liturgy to read each Sunday of Advent.

We lit the candles and read the liturgy around our table every Sunday, with each child reading a part as they were able. At first, we may have done it mainly to please our daughter. But, over the years, it simply became a tradition with us. And our children grew up with the knowledge that we did not open the gifts until after Advent.

We used that little candle holder for years! We eventually bought a very nice wreath, with Christian symbols, which came with a written explanation for each symbol. After the Advent liturgy, with hymn, was finished and candles were extinguished, which became a competition in itself, THE EXAM BEGAN! Each of us had to recite the explanation of their assigned symbol from memory.

As the family grew, each additional person, spouse-in-law or grandchild, received their assignment. THEN, we opened our gifts! While there was/is much good natured teasing/laughing as some of us struggle to remember our assignment, several important things are occurring. Most importantly, traditions are being established and reinforced, and passed on from generation to generation. Not just the tradition of “this is what we do each year,” but rather the recollection of the true Christmas story and how, through the birth of Jesus, God’s plan of forgiveness, love, grace, and reconciliation is revealed to the world! This is the TRADITION we, as parents and grandparents, should be reinforcing and passing on to the next generation!

Deut. 6:6-7 says, “These commandments (God’s revelation of His Truth - mine) I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

As the Church continues to be concerned about how the truth of Christmas seems to be pushed further and further into the background by the commercialism of Christmas, we, as parents and grandparents, need to assume our responsibilities in reversing this trend. As the Deuteronomy passage reminds us, it is primarily our responsibly to make sure these truths are part of the TRADITION that we pass on.

God showed Madge and I, through the Advent devotional, one way we could do it. Our daughter, the associate pastor at Grace UMC, in Corpus Christi, recently mentioned to that congregation, that the Advent celebrations we did at home were one of the reasons she is who she is. I’m sure it was God’s work, but we did our part.

Earnestly and persistently ask God how He would have you fulfill Deut. 6:6-7 for your family. I’m sure He has an app for that, just right for you!

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