Raised in a church that wasn't nominal, I thought ritualistic worship strange, and even pagan. I had this, I'm right and you're wrong belief. It took a large amount of pain and disappointments in life to show me that I did not contain the whole counsel of God. Those were not great ideas in my head, as I think back. I believed that Ash Wednesday, lent fasts, and even advent were peoples way of showing God their loyalty to Him, to earn His favor. I was right, I was wrong. Many people do try to earn favor with God by ritual and their faith tends to be hidden and shallow. However, there are many that practice these rituals and traditions out of their love for Christ and desire to draw closer to Him.
Growing up into the full stature of Christ is difficult for all of us. We tend to take out our religious differences on each other in front of unbelievers, into heated arguments where nobody wins and reproach on Jesus is accomplished in the eyes of the unbeliever. Jesus prayed that we would be one. We're one alright. One bunch of messed up me-gotist, that insists on our own rights and ways. Yet, He loves us all and came to fix our brokenness. I can say I'm much better, nowhere near perfect, but very cognizant that I need fixed...and so do you.
Traditions are important. Rituals are important, and even more so in this time we are living in. We are faced with secular groups that try to eliminate Jesus entirely from our society. Public and higher education have to extremes to wipe God out of education with science they cannot possibly prove. They believe in tangible proof for fact, yet believe and teach a fairy tale. The media has gone overboard to remove religious thought from scripture to opinion of the talk-show host, and "new faith that is inclusive." Every TV sitcom or drama portray the follower of Jesus as a back-woods Bible thumper that is judgmental or just plain stupid. It has become urgent for the protestant to defend the Catholic, and vise versa. That doesn't mean you practice faith the same. That means you do not oppose each others right to believe, how they believe. I am convinced that we are to pray for each other, love one another, and disregard any minister, especially those with a TV audience, that tear down the body of Christ without telling their audience to pray for the ones practicing false doctrine. Expose it, fine, pray for them, we must. Unity is vital to our belief systems even if we disagree, let's be Jesus to unbelievers and let God fix them, and us.
These thing I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain it you, and that your joy may be full. John
Advent can be just a tradition or it can be holy, fresh, and experience year-long. I am big on forming personal family traditions that leave wonderful memories for us. Our family had a tradition that lasted a few years. My late grandmother was in her 80's and we gathered as always with my immediate family, my uncle, and his family. You will think of us as a bunch of weirdo's, but after everyone had opened their gifts, wrapping paper laid everywhere on the floor. As we went to pick it up, someone threw a wad of the paper at my brother, and he returned the favor. In moments, it was pandemonium! Paper was flying all over the room, even my mamaw was in the fight! We laughed until we cried. As are children grew, that short tradition ended, but the memories remain. Our family loves to cut-up and laugh, and we often find reason to do so, even when it isn't funny to others. We also sang the "Hallelujah Chorus," singing the words, but experiencing a stirring on the inside, very memorable.
I am awed by what Christ has done. That first advent is precious and dear to so many of us. The ones that follow cannot compare to it, but can be dear to us if we maintain the hunger for a daily visit with the most notable person in history, Jesus Christ.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!