Share Your Traditions

The meaning in a Christian’s life comes from God’s
Word, the Holy Scriptures. While that may sound
weak to someone who prefers to define his own
life, it’s really far stronger. Human knowledge
changes, and human opinions fluctuate with the
wind. The Bible, meanwhile, came from our
unchanging Creator, and is both His message and
His power on earth to bless or curse. To find the
meaning of your life in God’s Word is to find the
true meaning in your life.

Christians recognize this meaning through our
customs and traditions. Some of our practices
serve as capsules for God’s Word itself, like the
liturgy of the Church and the lectionary of
readings, prayers, and other related morsels that
cover the entire Church Year. Other things we do
serve the lesser, but still important function of
reminding ourselves of what’s important. In this
way, the traditions we have received from our
forefathers help to preserve the meaning they
contain. Likewise, the traditions we choose to
pass on to the next generation fulfill their
purpose insofar as they communicate our faith and
our values through time.

Though human traditions are by definition neither
commanded nor forbidden by God, we should not
lightly discard them. Instead, we should try to
retain their full importance by understanding the
meaning behind them and following them for the
sake of that meaning.

Sometimes the meaning has a lasting importance,
but sometimes it does not. Sometimes we remember
the meaning of a tradition very well, but other
times we retain the practice and unfortunately
forget the whole reason why. There are good
reasons to end a tradition, and it’s no sin to do
so. But as long as we do understand a particular
practice, it seems wise to remember it, and share
that meaning as much as we can. (See Joshua
4:5-7.)

We should also understand that traditions vary
from place to place, from church to church, from
synod to synod, and from family to family. This
is not bad, but it can lead to confusion if we
fail to understand and teach the meaning behind
the traditions. We can promote unity between
churches by being aware of other practices and the
reasons for them, and possibly even adopting the
same practices for the sake of good order. There
are many examples of this in church history, such
as the church orders written by Johannes
Bugenhagen and Martin Chemnitz.

Our parish consists of two congregations, and the
younger of them is already over 25 years old.
Some of our households are new to the Lutheran
Church, while others grew up in it. Our families
each have their own ideas of which traditions are
important, and for what reasons. So I invite all
of our families to submit a list of those
Christian traditions that you like to observe,
along with a short description of each one.
Please include (as appropriate):

  1. The date or days that apply,
  2. a title,
  3. a description of how it is observed,
  4. its origin, and
  5. its purpose or meaning.

We can assemble all of them into a growing
anthology that will help us to understand one
another and to promote unity within and between
our congregations. The anthology could possibly
be published as early as January.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

This prayer comes from our synod president.

Heavenly Father, we give thanks to you . . .

  • for continuing to pour out your love and mercy.
  • for sending your Son to rescue us from the power of sin and damnation by granting us your free and full forgiveness.
  • for caring for us daily, though we do not deserve any of your kindness.
  • for having your holy angels watch over our coming and going.
  • for the abundance of foods we enjoy as you daily provide for our sustenance.
  • for enabling us to have medicines and doctors and nurses to treat our ailments, as we rely on your healing power to restore health in keeping with whatever is your good and gracious will.
  • for blessing our nation and granting us the freedoms we enjoy.
  • for good and seasonable weather where we can enjoy the wonders of your creation.
  • for giving us men and women who are willing to risk their lives as they faithfully serve in our armed forces.
  • for granting us churches to attend where your Word is preached and your sacraments are properly administered.
  • for pastors, teachers and missionaries.
  • for giving us opportunities to further your kingdom through the efforts of our synod, our Lutheran elementary schools, our Bethany College, and our Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary.
  • for providing us with the means of grace whereby you grant us your highest blessings as secured through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
  • We also thank you for giving us the outlet of prayer to bring our petitions before your throne and to praise your holy name.

In Jesus’ name we pray and live. Amen.