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The Art of Keeping Traditions

“If it’s not necessary to change things, then it’s necessary to not change them.”

I’ve always been one for tradition. At Christmastime growing up, I was the one helping Grandma put out the decorations in the exactly correct spots. I made exactly the same cookies at exactly the right moment. I made myself feel the exact feelings of anticipation I felt as a 5 year old on Christmas Eve night, not believing in Santa but looking in the sky just in case.

As I became an adult, I realized that the family has grown, I’ve changed, and everyone around me has changed. We don’t buy the same chocolate chip brand we did when I was 7, so the recipe for the cookies had to change. Traditions have a lifespan. Or they remain, just slightly altered to fit the current day.

While my MO is to keep traditions like a stickler, that’s not necessarily how Jesus described the use for traditions. The Sacred traditions must be kept as we walk forward in obedient lives, but tradition for the sake of tradition is never good.

“If it’s not necessary to change things, then it’s necessary to not change them.”

I heard this sentence first on a Charlie Kirk podcast, and it has stuck with me as I ponder the many ways this is applicable to life.

Socially, we see traditions change and be tweaked as the times change (family radio time is gone think Waltons, replaced with listening to podcasts while driving). This is perfectly natural and honestly necessary as the world continues to move forward.

However, in being obsessed with changing traditions, we have lost the art of keeping them.

“If it’s not necessary to change things, then it’s necessary to not change them.”

Weddings are one of the most joyful highlights in a person’s life. Why? Because it’s a celebration of the moment a man and a woman make a covenant with God, unifying their lives. This sacred union literally brings forth new life. Anything that inhibits abundant life to the full at a wedding is pointless. This is why a wedding gown is a sacred tradition - because it elevates the purity and beauty of the bride. This is why holy music is necessary, because it invites God into the space, calling forth conscious and unconscious worship in all who hear it in that moment. This is why dancing is a tradition, because the new family and everyone they know should eat, drink, and dance in their joy for each other and in the presence of God.

Families (married man + woman, children, siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles) are a tradition because they also literally bring life. They are not something nice to have on the weekend or when you feel down or someone to be with on your birthday. A family is a framework set up by God to help us live life to our maximum potential. There is and never will be anything that comes along that will need to change that, so don’t. No matter hard it is, don’t forfeit the family structure, for yourself or your fellow family members.

Dressing for Sunday is a very typical American tradition. As someone who grew up in the Bible Belt, I was raised wearing the adorable dress and uncomfortable shoes and hair ties to Sunday church every week for years. I remember getting old enough and asking my parents why we dressed up for church, then pondered the answer I received of how it was a way to give your best to God each week while you worship Him. Church looks different for a lot of people in modern America (I for one have high respect for and enjoy several different kinds of worship because I am inspired when I see various branches of Christ’s bride, but I digress), but for most there is an urge to look slightly nicer when Sunday dinner comes around. This is a tradition that is traced back to God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy.

The difference in command vs. tradition is interesting here. The command was given, so the lifestyle was adapted, so the tradition was founded. This dates back to the Israelites. Throughout all facets of the Christian and Jewish faiths, there are and always have been a tradition of setting aside one day of the week for rest, reflection, and worship. This will look different for different people and cultures, but there is an art in keeping this tradition, if one pursues the beauty of the ancient command.

Traditions. They are not necessary for righteousness. They lose their purpose once they become rote, or unvalued. But the one who enhances the beauty of the spirit behind the tradition has elevated remembrance to an art form.


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