My wife loves traditions, particularly around Christmas. We have a set of traditions that we have followed since the kids were very young. At first, these traditions really annoyed me. I don’t care much for traditions. She loves traditions because they ground us in life. Traditions give meaning and consistency for her. I don’t care for traditions because they become “same old, same old” for me. Traditions represent a boring and lifeless experience.
But, since we joined lives and created a family together, it has become necessary to compromise. I learn what is meaningful to her and she learns what is meaningful to me and we work to meet both of those needs.
When we started our Christmas traditions when our kids were young, she got things mostly her way. Since we didn’t have too many traditions in my family, I was open to that and there were just a couple of things that were important to me.
Together, we decided to read the Christmas Story from Luke 2 every Christmas Eve. We also read Twas the Night before Christmas. We left milk and cookies for Santa. We even scattered seed for the reindeer. Then the girls went to bed. When Santa came, he filled their stockings and left one “large” gift that was unwrapped. All of the other gifts were wrapped and from us. This minimized the importance of Santa, but still kept the magic we thought.
As the years have gone by, we have added a few that I have incorporated. I have learned that since my wife loves tradition, I may as well add a couple myself to ensure I get a few things that I love every year. 🙂
We added more Christmas presents from us since I felt like our first year was rather paltry compared to my family’s Christmas morning experiences. We added my favorite version of the Christmas Story found in the first chapter of John. We started watching my favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve and we even started going to get Chinese food (not my favorite food) on Christmas Eve to mimic the end of the movie.
Wait, Christmas Story found in John 1? Yeah, I’ve never heard anyone else use that one either. But, it is my favorite. It is a beautiful depiction of Jesus coming to earth.
“Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind.” John 1:1-4 (TLB)
Go ahead, read the rest of the chapter this morning. I did.
This is not just a chapter for Christmas.
As I read, I noticed that people were expecting John the Baptist to be the Messiah, their Savior. But, John knew that wasn’t his place. He was only there to point people to Jesus. Just like us.
I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s new book, Hero on a Mission and he talks about how there are four main characters in a story that make it great. The victim, the villain, the hero and the guide.
The reality is that we all go through tough times in life and we experience life as a victim. Those who succumb to life’s challenges live either as the victim or find the strength through anger and resentment to become the villain. Yes, there is an alternative. If we find the strength and the healthier responses to our challenges, we can become a hero and/or a guide for others to become one of the same.
I decided yesterday that I want to be the guide. In many ways, I’ve always wanted to be the guide. But, there are definite times that though I don’t usually choose to live as a villain (though sometimes I do in my head), I choose to live as a victim.
I want to be the guide because I know that Jesus is the only true hero.
John understood that too. People kept thinking he was their hero. But, he knew his place. His place was to point people to Jesus, the real hero.
I want to encourage you today. If you’ve struggled through life’s difficulties, you do not have to live your life as a victim or as a villain. You can overcome. You can either be a hero or a guide.
But, ultimately the only way to live as either is to look to the true, the original, HERO.
Jesus can help you through. He can help you find forgiveness. He can help you find resolution. He can make you new. He can give you a new start. He can transform you completely.
Go ahead, read John 1 today. See if you don’t get inspired. Fix your eyes on the one, true HERO—Jesus.