I am always amazed how this time of year impacts the day-to-day rituals of life. What appears to be an all of a sudden shift to chaos causes many to lose their grip on the important. Additionally, this is the time of year when I hear my least favorite phrase in all of creation with a higher frequency, "This is how we have always done it."
That single phrase, or the several variations of it drive me nuts. Christmas seems to bring this phrase into full force. There are certain songs people feel must be sung, there are certain activities people feel must take place, and certain decorations people feel must be displayed. Why? What is it people are trying to capture or recapture? More often than not people are trying to recapture a feeling they had in years past. I will argue what people are looking for is precisely what Christmas is about, but they are looking to the wrong things.
It should not matter if row, row, row your boat or Hark The Herald Angel is sung, it should not matter if there is a Christmas tree or an empty space, it should not matter where everything is placed. What is it that matters, Christ. In our striving for hope, peace, love and joy we strive to find them using traditions of the past, rather than looking to the living present. Songs, decorations, and activities will never bring us what we are looking for. The present we are all looking for is found in one place and one place alone, in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The way we have always done it is only good if it brings to the feet of Jesus. If it is to recapture a feeling or moment from the past, it will leave us still wanting more. Jesus offers us water that we may never thirst again.