Of Moments and Memories

Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

Last night Lisa and I went to a Christmas party. Perhaps I should say we went to another Christmas party. We go to a number of parties every Christmas. It’s what we do during the Christmas season. It’s become a tradition.

At this particular party, we were asked to think of and then share with everyone our favorite Christmas tradition. This was an easy assignment for us. For years, (and I mean years) our family gathers together in our “family room,” and Lisa distributes wrapped boxes to everyone. Every year they contain the same thing. Everyone knows this. Everyone expects this. These boxes contain pajamas. Getting new pajamas is a Christmas tradition in our house. After each of us opens our present, when all head to various bathrooms and bedrooms and change into our pajamas. Then we all come back together, usually have a good laugh, and then proceed to watch one of several favorite versions of A Christmas Carol together. I can’t imagine a Christmas without doing this. It’s what we do at Christmas. It’s a tradition.

It seems like Christmas and traditions just go together. I’m not sure why, but everyone seems to have and hold traditions regarding Christmas. Stop for a minute and think of yours. For you, what would Christmas not be Christmas without?

Allow me to make a few observations about traditions. First, there’s nothing new or novel in them. Traditions are predictable. There is no surprise in them; no “aha” moment happens. Because by nature they have been repeated constantly, you might assume they run the risk of becoming “old” or “boring” or “stale.” Except they’re not, and they don’t. In fact, one of the traditions of most families is that all new members of the family (whether by marriage or birth) are expected to discover and honor their family’s tradition. It’s how traditions are made and how they are held.

So here’s the simple rule of traditions: “Traditions are what we do! They’re what we always do!”

But brace yourself. This is true, until it’s not.

It’s true until something happens to change the makeup of your family. Often these changes are unwanted. A death, a divorce, some kind of falling out within the members of a family. Something happened and the tradition was broken. Then these traditions become just memories. When discussed they are referred to as “What we used to do!”

You see, it’s very easy to take your traditions for granted. It’s very easy to take your family for granted. It’s easy to take everything about Christmas for granted. It’s very possible you will be tempted to take this very Christmas for granted.

Why does this happen?

Because we always think there’s going to be another one. But will there be? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 39:4:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”

I think this was his way of asking God to not allow him to take things for granted. To not just come to expect but not appreciate.

Can I remind you of something very important?

“There is no present like the time.”

This is not misprinted. The time you have is a gift from God. As is your family. As are your traditions.

I hope that as your family celebrates Christmas in a few days you will get to do what you always do at Christmas. I hope it’s wonderful for you. Unfortunately, some families I know will not get to do this. Instead their discussion will center on what they used to do.

Now is the time to decide to make the most of your time. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your children. Take no one for granted! All are a gift from God. Enjoy this moment and live it to the fullest.

In closing, I want to remind you that whatever condition you find your personal family in this Christmas, you are invited to be a part of a much larger family. I am speaking of the church.

At Central, we have a number of wonderful Christmas traditions: Every year, we hold services on the nights leading up to Christmas and we worship God together…as a family. We take communion together. We reflect on God’s Word together. For many, the most meaningful tradition of all is how we close these services… we light candles and sing Christmas carols together.

You see, our Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it. It’s what we do in this family. We invite you to join in this tradition!

Don’t let the busyness and hustle and bustle of this season rob you of the gift God wants to give you this Christmas. Make Him a priority. Make spending time with his family a priority.

He has a present for you…it’s about a family, some traditions and some very special time we all get to spend together.

It’s what we do. It’s what we always do!

Why not do it with us?

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Of Moments and Memories

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