While speaking on the phone to my husband about our holiday plans, excitement overwhelmed me and our conversation took me back to my childhood. Each year we’d engage in family traditions that united us even more while securing lasting memories that can never be erased. One yearly staple for our family was watching the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year we kids would pile up on the sofa next to my Dad and watch the pageantry. We would remark on each float, cite the new ones; squeal with delight after spying our favorites and mentioning those that were discontinued while taking in the aroma of the holiday meal that wafted in from the kitchen. We knew Mom was concocting a massive Thanksgiving dinner for the family that was sure to satisfy. She actually appreciated the solitude the kitchen offered while we were preoccupied with the parade. We would wait anxiously for that very last float in the parade. We knew who’d be riding it because he rode it every year. It was the highlight of the parade and it kick started the festivities of the season. This float never changed. It gave us hope for the end of the current year and was our first introduction to what it was to have faith in something. This float carried Santa! He would arrive in royal regalia with love in his eyes for all. He’d wave with spotless gloves of white, while I screamed with delight in front of the TV. For us, Santa was real and all that he stood for wholesome. He’d mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season by saying in a deep voice that we’d longed all year to hear, MERRY CHRISTMAS! Once we saw Santa, it was Christmas…. We’d celebrate by having our tree trimming Thanksgiving evening. All of the decorations would be askew, hot cocoa would be plentiful and Nat King Cole would be belting out ‘The Christmas Song’ on our stereo. It was my Dad’s favorite holiday song.
Many Christmas’s have come and gone since then. Every year I attempt to re-capture the spirit of those wonderful times I had as a child growing up in Brooklyn, NY. I chose to keep many of those traditions because of the feeling of love, unity and precious familial relationships it fostered. We all need to feel a significant connection to a body of people that harbor unconditional love toward us.
As I spy the present day body of Christ, I see there is very little in the way of Godly traditions being consistently honored. Are we establishing traditions of faith in Christ that supersede our man made observances? Do we look to share the message of salvation as diligently as we search sales circulars for black Friday specials? Or are we just using our family formality as a smoke screen to cover up the fact that even though we have this birthday celebration for Jesus called Christmas, we seldom if ever invite Him to the party which should have already begun in our hearts?
The Lord is pleased whenever we choose to worship Him even if we are in the throes of our own celebrations. We can accomplish this by sharing a more significant gift with others. God’s desire is for men and women who don’t know Him to receive faith in His son Jesus that comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17) the word of God. Believers during this time of year should be burdened for those who are spiritually destitute. The trappings of home cooked meals, family gatherings, gifts and friends are to be appreciated. However we can not lose sight of our re-conciliatory duty. Our ministry of reconciliation should be ever active, especially during the holidays. We should feel compelled to look for opportunities to seize appropriate moments to unite those without hope or resources to the Lord. Our primary directive should be seeking creative, loving methods that would infuse faith into a new generation of believers. In doing this, we build a legacy which reminds the world that Jesus had a love so deep and powerful for us that He literally busted hell wide open to buy our freedom back from any kind of bondage imaginable. Family traditions should include telling the story of a Savior that had boldly taken the keys of death, hell and the grave from the adversary.
We hold so many traditions to heart, yet we often don’t use this time of year to witness to people that we know don’t have Christ. If charity begins at home, we need to endeavor to show love in our everyday dealings while telling those closest to us we are concerned about where they will spend their eternity. If we are indeed the Joshua generation we should desire to witness a transformation of lives through the cross. This is the lasting legacy we are commissioned to bequeath to this world. This enduring gift keeps offering peace, joy, happiness and divine love. If we are to implement a tradition that is precious yet eternal, if we really want to give away something that fits everyone, anywhere we must have an urgency to present eternal life through Christ!
Let the world see His love in you so that the lost may comprehend the peace that surpasses all understanding isn’t purchased in a store. It is not found in holiday decorations, rituals nor a building. Christmas is in knowing the saving power that is only found in the blood! The gift we all really need is the gift of Jesus.
Be encouraged and blessed child of the most high God!
Dr. Denise Joyce Williams lives in Florida with her husband who is a career soldier. She’s been writing since her teens with articles featured in CALLED and WOW magazine. Her book, “The Healing Of A Broken Vessel” was released by Publish America in March 2009. The book can be found: http://www.publishamerica.com and http://www.amazon.com. She’s currently penning her next book entitled “The Chambers Of The Heart”