Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.2 Thessalonians 3:6
Place-Kicks, Peanuts Style
Lucy tries to convince Charlie Brown – yet again – to try to place-kick a football. She convinces Charlie Brown, who is skeptical at first, to try the kick because it is an honor to do something so traditional.
After she pulls the ball away, yet again, and Charlie Brown ends up flat on his back, she says:
“Isn’t it peculiar, Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away?”Lucy van Pelt, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
There are many traditions that have been held dear by Americans through the years.
The Fourth of July is traditionally the “birthday” of the United States and celebrated with fireworks.
Memorial Day (or “Decoration Day,” as it used to be called) is a traditional day to remember those who died protecting our nation from enemies.
Labor Day is the traditional end-of-summer holiday.
Yet some of the traditions associated with these traditional holidays have faded away over time.
For example, the tradition to not wear white after Labor Day. On the Fourth of July, there are some that now call for not flying the American Flag since it represents a dark time in our nation’s history (see Colin Kaepernick). Less and less people wear poppies on Memorial Day, especially as we get further and further away from World War I.
The fading away of traditions is nothing new.
The Nation of Israel – as established in the Old Testament Book of Exodus – was to observe the Passover Celebration each year.
But after the time of the prophet Samuel, Passover was rarely observed until the time of King Josiah, and then hit-and-miss after him until Jews began to observe it yearly during the Babylonian Exile.
Let’s go back to the United States again. As we approach the second greatest secular holiday in the United States (after the Fourth of July) – Thanksgiving – many people observe many traditions.
The traditional meal of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. The traditional post-meal nap while watching the football game on TV. The tradition of getting an early start on Christmas shopping.
National Day of Thanksgiving
The official National Day of Thanksgiving was established by President Abraham Lincoln. It was to be observed on the last Thursday of November`.
But President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1939, decided to change the date to the fourth (instead of fifth) Thursday of November – to give more days for Christmas shopping.
Whether Thanksgiving Day was the fourth or last Thursday of November, the day traditionally began with the vast majority of Americans participating in worship.
But since the emphasis on shopping that came to the forefront at the end of the 1930’s this tradition of worshipping on Thanksgiving has been – as Lucy puts it – slowly fading away.
The Reason for Tradition
The reason that participating in worship is an important tradition of Thanksgiving is twofold.
First, giving thanks to God for all that He has given us is a vitally important act of the child of God. All that we have comes from God. As St. Paul says, we all “live and move and have our being” in God.
Second, the word tradition doesn’t just mean something we have done in the past and do now to remember our past. It also means “handing down” – as in handing down the lessons of our forefathers.
Again, St. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians that we should keep – that is, live – in “accord with the tradition that you received from us.”
The Gospel Tradition
That tradition is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we are saved from our sins. Jesus died and rose again to life in order to forgive all our sins and give us eternal life in heaven.
Until He comes back to take us to heaven, we are to be living in the tradition – the Gospel – that we received from the Apostles.
I encourage you to use this Thanksgiving as a day to worship Jesus and gather with family – first in church then around the dinner table.
And from there walk in the tradition that is the Gospel and share it with others throughout the holiday season!
Heavenly Father, help me to walk in the tradition that is the Gospel of Jesus. I give You thanks this day – and every day – because of Your love for me. Bless our Thanksgiving celebrations and beyond. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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