Comment from Ken: Just something to think about before Christmas.
Scripture: Mark 2: 23 – 27
23Now it happened that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
25But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”
27And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord
of the Sabbath.”
Good morning. I am so happy you can join me for a walk together. I’m sitting here at the Welcome Room table. Let me explain.
We have an entry room off our driveway that is the main entrance to our home. There were huge windows in that room on both sides for its purpose was to be a breezeway. None of the old windows would work correctly so I removed them and put in new smaller windows that made the room much more comfortable. In that room, there is a pellet stove, and now with the old windows that were leaking removed, it is one of the most pleasant rooms in our home. As our kitchen is not very workable, I suggested to Dale that we turn the renovated room into a bakery. As you are well aware Dale loves to bake, and we would make that “new room” a part of her kitchen and add another stove. That was the plan until Dale so loved the room that she decided that should be called a “Welcome Room” as it was indeed the entryway to our home.
Now that made for a huge change in plans. The “ bakery” would have to be added to a space in the kitchen. That has been my present project hopefully to be accomplished for Christmas. We will see.
Did you have a happy Thanksgiving Day? We certainly did here in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. There were nine of us for dinner – parents and grandchildren. Yes, it was a feast. Now how am I ever supposed to lose weight when my wife and members of our family are such a good cooks? We had the usual turkey dinner with all the fixing’s and a multitude of appetizers provided by our daughter Brenda because that is one of the favorite parts of a gathering. Desserts of course, followed our meal. Mark had made an apple pie, and then there was a cookie chocolate chip pie, a pumpkin pie, vanilla and chocolate home made ice cream, Dale’s fabulous hot fudge for the ice cream and chocolate and vanilla sugar cookies. Does that at all sound like your Thanksgiving meal? We are so fortunate to live in our country of plenty. Now we look forward to Christmas.
When I was a young child and after the Thanksgiving meal was over, my mother and her sisters would sit at the dining room table and talk about the coming holiday. It was so exciting to hear their plans for the best holiday of the year.
That next week candles would be placed in the windows of our home, the outside bushes would be covered with colored lights (that was after the Second World War was over), and there would be crepe paper streamers from corner to corner in our dining room and entryway. Our Christmas tree was not put up until Christmas Eve. After we children had gone to bed, Santa would arrive, and he would even have time to decorate the Christmas tree. He would break fewer ornaments than seven children might break. Hmmm. How did Santa have that much time to spend at our home? Magic, I guess, but my parents looked so happy but exhausted on Christmas morning.
There were so many traditions around Christmas at our home. Are there similar traditions in your home? How many of the traditions that you hold still have meaning?
Years ago, I had a Saint Bernard named Bruno. Before he would lie down, Bruno would walk in a circle and then lie down. Molly just plunks herself down when she wishes to. She does not walk first in a circle. Curious of why Bruno walked in a circle, I was told that dogs walked in a circle before they lay down. In the wild, they would cause any snakes to disappear from where the dog was going to rest. Now there were no snakes on the rugs in our home where Bruno would sleep, but tradition said to Bruno you must walk in a circle before you lie down. Sometimes in our traditions, we can be like Bruno. Some traditions need to be changed in a family because they are no longer needed or are suitable. It might be time for you and for me to consider some of our traditions surrounding the Christmas season.
It took this pastor many years to break a tradition that was held by my mother concerning Christmas dinner. We went to my mother’s and father’s house for Christmas dinner and that was fine until – until my mother felt she was too elderly to put on a dinner for all her family. Now that is understandable for being one of seven children and the seven having children meant that there would be twenty or more for dinner so my mother planned our dinner at a very nice restaurant nearby. This became a horror show. (I would never dare write that if my mother was looking over my shoulder, and I even feel guilty writing it now.)
My children had to leave their gifts on Christmas morning and go to a restaurant. Never did my brothers and sisters and I have to leave our gifts on Christmas Day. We always stayed at home. To make matters worse, my mother began to make arrangements at the restaurant for the eleven o’clock in the morning sitting. Just try getting six children ready after opening presents for that early dinner. And at the restaurant, I will never forget Bradford lying on the rug at the side of the room feeling sick to his stomach. So was I!
It took so much courage for me to speak up to my mother and to tell her that I would come with the children in the afternoon to visit but that we would no longer join them for dinner. My mother was not very happy, but we needed to establish a new tradition. The new tradition would be that we would open presents as a family, have our dinner at home, and then go to my parents’ house around two-thirty in the afternoon. That was task enough.
This is the time when families need to look at their traditions and wonder if they are like Bruno, walking around and around in a circle before lying down when that is no longer necessary. One has to be careful when dealing with tradition but tradition should not exist for tradition itself. Careful planning should take place to make Christmas Day a holy, meaningful, family centered day. Adults and children need to be thought of on that day with consideration and love. Perhaps my mom should have visited her children during the holiday season having dinner at different homes over the years, or having one of the younger members of the family taking over the family dinner or rather supper at the end of the day.
Jesus, our Lord, spoke harshly concerning traditions. Over and over again, He causes those around Him to consider the way they act and the reason behind their actions. He heals a man on the Sabbath day and the scribes and the Pharisees condemn Him for his actions because He was to remember the Sabbath was a holy day and no work was to be done. He asks them a question? If you have an ox or a donkey that falls in a pit on the Sabbath day, do you not rescue them? Why should He have not rescued this man from his illness?
Jesus tells us that we must examine our traditions and let our hearts be our guide. “Man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for man.” The legalism of Jesus’ childhood faith led Him to preach about living by ones heart and soul. Kindness was the watchword in His life. If a tradition is not kind and loving, it is time to cast that tradition away. Hold fast to the traditions that bring love and joy into your life and consider carefully the traditions that have outworn their usefulness.
Those of you who know us well know that Dale and I love Christmas. Our home is being transformed into a holiday, joyful place. In every room Christmas is coming to be celebrated. You cannot look anywhere and not see a sign of this wonderful season. We have sought to let our children have their Christmas celebrations as it suits them. Because I felt so pressured to conform to the tradition of my “growing up family”, Dale and I do not pressure our children to conform to our way of doing things. We will celebrate Christmas with each one of our children, perhaps on different days, but we have come to love that special time with each member of our family. We will not have one huge family gathering but many gatherings with happy children and grandchildren. That is a wonderful new tradition.
Our prayer: Dear God, as we look forward to this holy and special time of year when families gather together, may we be sensible with our plans. Help us to have a season filled with consideration and love for each other. And above all, Lord, be with us each day for it is Your birth we celebrate, it is Your birth that causes all this rejoicing and happiness. Amen.
Benediction: “And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”