Did you ever hear the story about the new bride who went to cook a potroast? As she placed the meat into the roasting pan, she cut the end off of one side. “Why do I do that?” she wondered. “I don’t understand.” So she called her mother. “Mom, why do we cut the end off the potroast?”
Her mother thought for a moment. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I have just always done it that way. My mom did it too. Call grandma and ask her.”
So the new bride called her grandmother. “Grandma, why do we cut the end off the potroast?” The answer was a moment of silence, broken by a small giggle. “You’re still doing that?” the grandmother asked.
“Yes, I was making a potroast, and I wondered why we cut the end off of it. Mom did it, and that’s how she taught me to do it. Do you know why?”
The grandmother’s giggle had become a chuckle. “My pan was too small, and we couldn’t afford a larger one. So, I cut the end off the roast to make it fit.”
Sometimes in the midst of years of liturgy, the original intent behind certain traditional practices can be lost. When that happens, all that remains is an empty practice. When this happens, valuable history and lessons learned can be lost forever. By the same token, when we do something without realizing why — our actions have no meaning except to just repetitively copy what has “always been done,” without enjoyment or meaning. In fact, we can attach wrong meanings and symbolisms to events just because we are wrongly taught.
Over the next few days, I want to try to post the results of some of my research of the history of the Christmas Season…. I have already posted some of these on my facebook site, but will try to enlarge them in this space, as time allows.
Many times, in the midst of the stresses of the Holiday (or holy day) Season, we can allow ourselves to become “squeezed.” In so doing, we forget to teach our children the why’s of what we do — passing the baton of honoring the past; lessons learned; joys rekindled — After all, the purpose of celebrating; any celebrating; is to call to mind something we are giving thanks for. For instance, when God instructed His people to remember Feast Days, it was for the purpose of teaching the present generation the lessonslearned by their elders. In saying this, let me include here that our celebrations of Advent, and Christmas, and any holiday, are to provide a learning environment for the next generation….. We hear it all the time, “Christmas is about the kids.” Even in our remembrances of those who have less than we do this Season, we consider the children of families, and what they need or want this time of year…. Without those shiny eyes of wonder, many of us just stop celebrating — “It’s too much work,” we say.
Advent, which means “Waiting,” was originally designed by church leaders to help followers of Jesus Christ prepare their hearts for the coming of a New Beginning (otherwise known as the New Year). In the earliest days, it was a time of prayer and fasting, which began on November 11th, on the Feast of St. Andrew. Advent is traditionally the season when the church begins celebrating the manifestation of the Only Living God come to earth in human form. Even today, in the most Orthodox of churches, the follower of Christ is asked to assess the state of their living practices and their heart in light of the Return of Christ. As a New Year approached, believers asked themselves: What healing and cleansing was needed to enable a more intimate spiritual experience with Christ as they moved into the New Year? In the Middle Ages, families would enact a play depicting the choice of Adam and Eve in Eden to sin; which ended with the prophecy of a coming Savior who would rescue the world form the inevitable death their choice had ushered into the planet.
Many statements have been made about whether December is the actual month when Jesus was born. Some historians believe Jesus was born in the spring in Israel — However, the temple flocks were moved to Bethlehem in the fall of the year, and these were the sheep tended by shepherds at night; lambs being raised for sacrifice. Records indicate that Caesar Augustus mandated the census to be taken in late October.. so those who oppose the holiday are correct…. The problem however, is that many who hold this opinion have ceased to celebrate the coming of Christ at all. Christmas is about the Incarnation – it doesn’t realy matter WHEN we celebrate.. the point of what we pass on to the next generation is THAT the Incarnation is WORTH CELEBRATING!
For example, this is the only time of the year when I can walk into a grocery store and hear the name of Jesus sung over the airwaves. Even in environments who are “politically correct” the rest of the year, we hear lyrics from traditional carols — “Glory to the newborn King,” “Christ the everlasting Lord,” “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,” just to name a few lines we all know and recognize.
As we approach the actual Christmas Day, let me challenge you to consider what your children are learning about Jesus this time of year — everywhere we look, there are opportunities to share the gospel…. How will you be “Jesus with skin on” to those around you during these weeks and days?
More to come. Blessings!
(c)2011 dcg/atg. Duplication without permission prohibited. Thank you for your integrity.