Friday, February 8, 2008

Tradition among the Non Denominational Churches

One thing that I think is missing among the regular old Bible Churches of America is tradition. Some of the more liturgical faiths have that down pat.

I did not grow up with a lot of tradition in my family and maybe that is why I am so interested in creating it with my own family.

We have done Advent for years. I love Advent. Christmas doesn’t sneak up on us. We don’t spend six weeks shopping and then, Wham! Christmas is here. We have 4 weeks to spiritually prepare. We have 4 weeks to take a small time out of our day and think on what God was doing when he chose to come to earth. We take 4 weeks to look back all through scripture where it was foretold that it would happen. I love it! I love Advent and the kids do to. I hope this is a tradition they will take into their own families. They seem to get so excited when we pull out that advent wreath and begin lighting those candles. It is important to me that my kids appreciate more about Christmas than just the gifts on Christmas morning.

So, Lent. I have wondered about Lent for years. What’s it all about? What’s with the ashes on Ash Wednesday? How does it all work? Why give up something? What’s the point?

I have done some reading and I have a few answers, enough I think to celebrate Lent this year. We did not partake in Ash Wednesday, although I think that would be something we might like to do next year. This year we just read the Ash Wednesday scripture: Mathew 6:1 "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

We talked about how this is something that we can think about in our hearts and do to please God and grow closer to him; it is not something go shouting to the mountain tops about to gain glory from men.

For me, Easter is the big one. Theoretically Jesus could have come to earth as a baby and then decided He didn’t particularly want to get up on a cross for humanity. Would anyone blame him after the way he was received? But he got up there anyway. I hate that Easter comes and goes so fast and there is not quite the build up and preparation like there is for Christmas. Easter is the Big One! Easter is THE holiday and it seems to come and go with no more preparation than making sure the boys have church shoes and the girls have new dresses. This year I decided I was going to change that. So I did some research and got the family together to talk about Lent.

I explained all I had learned and then I asked the kids if they would like to participate in Lent and encouraged them to think and pray about what they want to give up? Boy did I get some interesting ideas.

Bob would like to give up bathing, brushing his hair, brushing his teeth, or his chores. I have told him he is not allowed to give up any of those things.

Will wants to give up Algebra.

Eve can’t decide.

Ann wants to give up reading.

I think perhaps they are missing the point. So instead of focusing on giving up, we are going to focus on adding. We are going to be very intentional about our quiet times together as a family, and individually. I have planned a segment of our day to be set aside for time with God. This is something we should really be doing anyway, but have gotten out of the habit. We do read the Bible together most days, but I have not encouraged a personal quiet time for the kids individually, so that is what we are going to do.

I know tradition does not get us into heaven. No amount of ashes on my head is going to save me. I can give up chocolate for 40 days but if I don’t know Jesus, then I’ve done nothing but deprived myself.

Tradition does not save us, but sometimes it can serve to refocus us on the One who does.


Tonya said...

We do celebrate Lent and Ash Wednesday. Eric made a cross with hooks on it. Every night during Lent (supposedly, we miss many), we read a verse, talk about it and hang it on one of the hooks. We also use a book by Martha Zimmerman. Can't think of the name, it's upstairs - WAY too far to walk. :-) Our kids love that we celebrate Christ's Resurrection for weeks, not just one weekend.

Halfmoon Girl said...

Good thoughts here. I agree that Easter does not get the thought that it should.

Jenny in Ca said...

I enjoyed this post, specially the part about what your kids wanted to give up, big chuckle over that! I found myself nodding my head over this post, I have been craving more tradition, more "intention" but that is not the place we are meeting at -this point in our lives.

please keep sharing, I am very interested in what you learn and what you embrace.

grace and peace,