One of the more interesting traditions surrounding Christmas in Germany is the Advent calendar. Children look forward to opening the numbered door each day. Most of these calendars have some kind of chocolate morsel behind each date. We are actually bringing an Advent calendar with us to Branson, Missouri so we can celebrate with all of the family. Sadly we will have to double-up on a few days since we haven’t cracked open a single door yet! It will be even that much more fun with our children and our soon-to-arrive grandchild. If you haven’t heard by now, Katie and Aaron are expecting their first child on March 17th. Lord willing, 90 days from now, we will be traveling south again to meet the newest family member. I know Grandma and Grandpa Kuechler are just as excited. Speaking of traditions, when Janet and I were newly married and expecting our first child (ironically Aaron), we had no desire to know the sex of our baby. Amazingly between 1988 when Aaron came into the world and 2018, somewhere in a 30 year span, it’s now common, even expected, to know the sex of the child. I guess it’s not all bad, since there are numerous times recorded in Scripture where God declared the sex of the child while in the womb, and even before the child was conceived. Nevertheless, Janet and I are looking forward to being grandparents for the first time. So, what do Advent calendars and the announcement of the new baby have to do with Christmas or our theme of “Gather?” I think everything! You only have so many Christmas holidays to celebrate together with family and friends. Make sure you guard these sacred moments. The upcoming 60th wedding anniversary of Kirk and Marilyn (Janet’s parents) will create the combining together of Nordstrom, Kirkpatrick, Hofer, Dokken, Kuechler, and Burg family traditions under one roof. I’m a little biased because I am looking forward to Janet’s Wild Rice Soup; it is a staple of every Dokken Christmas Eve gathering.
I realize Scripture tells us “the traditions of men make the Word of God of no effect.” This is a completely different focus on the word “traditions” than what I am describing. In the passage “traditions of men” relates to spiritual and/or divine significance, almost like good luck which comes from repeating certain religious habits.
Most importantly, during family gatherings, make sure we cherish our; moments together, unique traditions, time around the table, giving of gifts, and most importantly, honoring the central message of Christmas. God gave us His very best. Am I a little biased toward my birth country? Yes! Although Christmas would not be Christmas without Lefse and Lutefisk (I’ll be missing out on this year‘s recent Christmas celebration of joining in with the Moss family). Another tradition I have embraced, introduced to me by one of my elders while living in Northfield, is my new favorite Christmas cookie. The Date Pinwheel cookie dough is rolled and ready to go! Janet and I wish we could be here for the Candlelight Christmas Eve service. Bringing family and friends is important, knowing they will hear the gospel which is the primary reason we gather every Christmas season. “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”