Church is Not about Traditions
“Church is Not about Traditions.” I’ve heard our preacher mention that phrase quite a bit lately. He’s trying to remind us, that some churches actually close-their-doors since Tradition was their focus and not Christ. It’s hard to imagine a church shutting down, but it’s happening more & more these days.
Are traditions to blame? Probably. But I believe if we don’t just go through the motions, some traditions may actually help remind us, or even bring us back to Christ.
Bringing Christ back into Christmas
Bringing Christ back into Christmas is the focus of many modern families today. The hustle & bustle of the Christmas season is stressful and doesn’t make many people “act Christian.” In fact, it can bring out the exact opposite! I think we are seeing our society trying to re-center & focus on what’s important. Look at the latest trends: de-cluttering, minimalism, tiny homes, & the Hygge lifestyle; they are all in search of simpler, less complicated, and stress-free living. I wonder how many of these people are also striving to read their Bible as they simplify?
One tradition I think would actually help families to re-focus on Christ during the holidays is the Advent Wreath.
Advent is something that typically only Christian liturgical denominations practice (Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, etc.). However, more evangelical churches are starting to incorporate this traditional practice as well.
Earliest written references shows Advent was practiced in the Fourth Century and lasted from The Feast of St. Martin, on November 11, to Epiphany Day, January 6th. This was usually a time of fasting & prayer resembling Lent (which helps one prepare for Easter). Over time the practice of Advent has changed & evolved. For example, in 1839 a Lutheran minister introduced the use of an evergreen wreath with 25 white & red candles to teach children about Advent.
I don’t think many people in America fast or continuously pray throughout Advent, but saying a prayer, reading scripture, and lighting the weekly Advent candle is something that we can easily fit into our schedules. Some people take this a step further and do daily Advent-themed readings throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Advent helps us prepare. Prepare our hearts and minds in anticipation of Christ – not only for Christmas to celebrate His birth, but also his future return to restore Heaven on Earth / His Second Coming. We HOPE for Christ our Saviour who provides eternal life & PEACE. We celebrate God’s LOVE for us by sending His only Son into this world to save us from our sins. It is this LOVE that not only gives us HOPE & PEACE, but great JOY. We rejoice along with the angels in heaven who sing of God’s Glory. It is during the Advent season that we repent of our sins (cleanse our heart), and focus (our minds) on the long-awaited Christ’s birth & Second Coming.
Advent typically begins 4 weeks before Christmas. Each Sunday of Advent we light a different candle:
- Week 1 – HOPE Candle (purple)
- Week 2 – LOVE Candle (purple)
- Week 3 – JOY Candle (pink)
- Week 4 – PEACE Candle (purple)
- Christmas Day – CHRIST Candle (white)
To help you prepare & start your own Advent tradition with your family, I’ve gathered a few ideas & resources listed below. I’ll be posting articles throughout the Advent season with weekly suggestions.
Advent Crafts & Ideas:
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