“Traditions” By Pastor Joe
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 shared a treat from an Advent Calendar with the Kuechlers before they left for Christmas with Aaron, Katie, Gwen, Verity and Baby in the womb! Hopefully each of you have been enjoying your Advent Calendars given out a few weeks ago at church. If you missed a few days just double-up…we haven’t cracked open a single door yet. We are waiting to share them with our adult children and grandchildren! It will be even that much more fun with our children and our soon-to-arrive grandchild. Lauren and son-in-law Matt will be having blessing number two in February. Also, if you haven’t heard by now, Katie and Aaron are expecting their third child in late July, Lord willing. 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 now, somewhere in a 30 plus 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 fourth and fifth time. So, what do Advent Calendars and the announcement of the new baby have to do with Christmas? I think everything! You only have so many Christmas holidays to celebrate together with family and friends. Make sure you guard these sacred moments. For Janet and I, it’s 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.
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. 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 will be rolled and ready to go shortly! Janet and I always look forward to the Candlelight Christmas Eve service which has always been a very special time to sing favorites like Silent Night. 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.’”