The importance of tradition


As we near Christmas, some church members (and pastors) might be asking the question – why do we do the things we do at Christmas? 

At Trinity, we’re Anglican – which means we join the 85 million Anglicans around the world who follow the Church of England Prayer Book and many of the traditions handed down to us since the mid-1500s. We’ll have two Christmas Eve services this year. At 5 o’clock, we’ll have our family service where we focus on the children. Our 9 o’clock service will be traditional  lessons and carols plus communion.  We’ll have shepherds and wise men and angels, and we’ll have candles, Christmas music, poinsettias, and lots of prayers. 

All in all, it will be a glorious Christmas Eve.

But – and this is very important – we never forget why we’re there to worship. We’re there to remember Jesus Christ – not just to celebrate His birth but to remember why He was born, how He lived and what He taught, how He died, and the fact that God brought Him back to life after three days for a purpose. 

Jesus, the Son of God, member of the Holy Trinity, was part of God’s plan from the beginning. God knew His creation – men and women – were going to fail. This failure fractured our relationship with God. Out of His love for us, God knew He would have to do something to heal that broken relationship. That plan was Jesus Christ whose death and resurrection overcame Satan, sin and death and brought about the healing we needed. Jesus took the punishment we deserve for our sins. For followers of Jesus, our sins are now forgiven and our physical death now is not permanent. It’s part of God’s plan to reunite us with our heavenly home and those other followers of Jesus who have gone before.

One of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, wrote this about Christmas:  “There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty.  But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you.  He likes having you around.  He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.  If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it.  He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.  Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.  He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.  And the Christmas gift he sent to you in Bethlehem?  Face it, friend.  He’s crazy about you!”

So, the most important Christmas tradition of all is to not remain focused on what happened in a manger in Bethlehem. It’s remembering everything that Jesus taught and did during his three-year ministry. The best way to honor Jesus on Christmas Eve is to worship the baby and sing our favorite carols.  But always remember that although His life, death, and resurrection, followers of Christ are forgiven and promised eternal life. Isn’t that worth worshiping?

The Rev. Dale Chrisman, Rector, Trinity Anglican Church, now worshiping in our new church at 18900 FM 1431, five miles from Cedar Park and Leander.