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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Christmas Muse... Traditions



“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
 Just like the ones I used to know…”*

When I opened up the curtains and looked out over our backyard this morning, you would have thought that it snowed last night!  There was a heavy frost that covered everything in a thin layer of white.  The view from the front door was even prettier.  The crisp, clean sheen of white got me to thinking about Christmas and childhood dreams and traditions that seem to abound during this time of the year.

It is interesting how one tends to associate snow with the Christmas season.  Being born and raised on the west coast, I never experienced a white Christmas in my life!  The closest I came was when my family and I visited my sister and her family a month or so before Christmas when they lived in the quaint town of Nevada City in the Sierra foothills of California.  We got to enjoy snow in the morning and even cut a Christmas tree on a piece of property that my parents owned near there.  I guess that snow and Christmas is just one of those traditions that many of us share.

Traditions seem to be especially important during the holidays.  When I brought Piper into the dining room this morning we were met by the sounds of a choir singing The First Noel with a beautiful organ guiding their melodic sounds on my Pandora Plus station.  It instantly brought back special memories from our time at the Baptist church during the first eight years of our marriage.  One in particular was their tradition of singing Christmas carols around the large tree that they always set up in the foyer of the church.  

There was an old pump organ in the foyer that as far as I can remember was only played that night.  (It may have been the original organ from when the church resided in the church built from one tree that was made famous by Ripley’s “Believe or Not” comic strip.)  I always enjoyed watching our very prim and proper organist awkwardly pumping the petals as she churned out the beautiful tunes of praise to the new born King.  Piper and I usually got to sing a song or two as I accompanied us on my guitar.  I still get warm feelings as I think about the smiles and laughter that our church family shared on that special occasion… and the homemade cookies and hot cocoa afterwards were also pretty good as well!

And while we’re on the subject of traditions… I had the thought as I read in the Christmas story about the angelic choir that appeared in the skies above the shepherds out tending their flocks near Bethlehem, that maybe their appearance was part of a heavenly tradition that was shared around the throne of God.  In talking about giving praise and honor to the Lord in heaven, both Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 5:11-12 describe how “ten thousand times ten thousand (angels) stood before Him.” (KJV)  

Think about it for a moment.  It would kind of make sense that these angelic hosts (or literally translated “army” or “heavenly knighthood” according to Vincent’s Word Studies) couldn’t hold back and burst forth into the earthly realm in order to continue their tradition of singing praises unto the Lord in order to announce His coming, to glorify God and at the same time legitimize His presence.  What do you think?

I’ve always been sort of a traditional person.  I enjoy following traditions… but only as long as they don’t inhibit my ability to move on with each and every calling of Papa God upon my life.  Over the years I have known many folks who have been so afraid to step into a new place and have held on to traditions so tightly that they failed to receive blessings from the Lord and at the same time be a blessing to someone else.  My wife and I have been in places where sticking to old traditions have strained relationships between us and our family and friends.

There are times to hold on to traditions, but there are also times to move on and create new ones!  Change is always hard to accept.  One thing I have learned over the years of being in management positions in both the secular and sacred worlds is to hold my tongue and opinion of proposed changes until they have time to be properly presented, understood and lived for a while!  In my experience, changes that I see as initiated by the Lord that lead to new traditions are not only good but very freeing to both the soul and spirit!

So, check it out  What traditions are you following this Christmas season?  Are they good and freeing for you or do they actually hold you back from experiencing the best that Papa God has for you to be and to do unto others?  I want my life to be like those heavenly hosts that couldn’t help but sing praises that glorified the new born King that night many years ago!  I want my life to be a song of praise unto God for all men to see.  How about you?
Have a great rest of the week before Christmas… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What personal traditions am I expecting to pursue this Christmas and New Year… and which do I need to change?”

*The song White Christmas is undoubtedly the most famous and popular of all the Christmas songs. The music and lyrics for White Christmas were written by Irving Berlin in 1942 and originally featured in the movie Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby. The lyrics of White Christmas struck a chord with the soldiers fighting in the Second World War and their families who were waiting for them back home. The song and recording of White Christmas by Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter's orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers was so popular that it was later reprised in the movie called after its name - White Christmas. The film White Christmas once again starred Bing Crosby together with Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.  (https://www.carols.org.uk/white_christmas.htm)

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