Tag Archive: tradition

well, here we are – December 2 – WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?

yup, somehow December snuck up on us all again and pretty soon it will be Christmas – you know the time to celebrate gluttony and spend time, energy and money on buying things for people that they don’t need or often even want? wait, that’s not sposed to be it, right?

it’s Christmas – the time of good will to all mankind and a whole lot of Fah La La La La’ing…

let me cut to the chase – what excites me every year about Christmas is the stories of people who get creative around this time to reach out to others – the lonely, the old, those in hospital, those living on the streets – whose Christmas is not likely to look anything like worshipping the Fat Elf of Gluttony – and making even the smallest amount of difference in their lives [although i see Love, Joy, Hope, Community and Acceptance as huge big-ass gifts]


tbV and i are about to celebrate our 5th Christmas together and before we let it run away with us, we decided to be intentional about coming up with some of our own new traditions that will help this holiday feel special to us… and that got me thinking about how we collectively [as the bigger community of us] can help each other to make this the best Christmas possible for the aforementioned ‘least of these’ and others…

This is what i want to invite you into. If you already have a tradition of doing something for others on or around Christmas day, then i would love for you to share it in the comments section. If you have ever been the recipient of someone else reaching out and doing something meaningful and life-transforming for you on Christmas day i would love to hear those stories as well. But more importantly, the invitation is to sit with your friends and/or family and come up with one new tradition to start doing this Christmastime that will help make someone else’s Christmastime really special [especially someone who needs it more]

Will this mean inviting someone into your family meal? Or volunteering with a group of friends at a local shelter Christmas meal? Will it mean getting creative in gift-making? Or sitting down and writing a letter, note or card to someone who is likely to spend this time alone? Or are you going to really hit one out of the park by taking this kind of inspiration and turning it into something that the recipient will remember for a long long time?

So, in the comments section of this blog, i want you to share with us all the idea you have that you are going to do this Christmastime. Perhaps you want to draw some more inspiration from these amazing stories of families who got creative in raising their young children as world changers. But let us know what you’re going to do – and the hope is that as we share ideas, we will be inspired by other peoples’ ideas and try out some of these things together…

Who is in?


i am not a big fan of tradition when it is solely taking place for tradition’s sake [even if the original meaning and intention might have been good but has been lost or watered down along the way] but there are some traditions which are rich and full of life [baptism, communion, a family that eats together etc] that are incredible.

Join me as I look at Mark 7.1-13:

[to continue to the next passage and find out if Jesus was being a jerk, click here]

i am not a big fan of tradition whose only purpose in life is “we did it this way last time”

last nite, the beautiful Val and i celebrated Christmas eve with a few of our neighbors from Potter street where we have lived the last 19 months and are 5 days away from leaving… it was a fitting end to have a house full of good food, laughter and excited wife squeals and dances as the snow we had hoped for and asked for and desired so much decided to put in a guest appearance.

it was a really fun and feel-good evening and really quite simple to pull off.

and it could quite easily have been different! we could have rocked out on a lavish two person feast and just gone wild on our favourite foods and desserts and made it all about us. we could also have saved ourselves the effort of cooking and cleaning and made a reservation at some local restaurant and let someone else do the hard work.

but we decided to reach out to some of those who we have befriended this year. to some who may have spent Christmas by themselves. and to those who have emphatically welcomed us into their lives and space.

christmaseve                                                                                                                                    i suspect it had something to do with us both coming from families who specifically at Christmas [altho many other times as well] made a special effort to reach out to those who are lonely or alone or less fortunate than themselves…

we may not have fully grasped it as children and may even at times have been resentful as to why these ‘strangers’ are invading our space and taking a part of our time and our cherished favourite foods… but the moment we understood it and realised the significance of this simple act demonstrating the life belief we hold to and try to live out, it started to make the most sense in the world…

so we invited some friends around. we prepared a whole bunch of yummy food [including an amazing wife experiment involving sweet potatoes and marshmallows as a main course item] and we decorated and we prepared a fun question activity and we jumped and dance and sang when snow started to fall in the midst of it all – and we had the most amazing and hopefully transforming meal and evening.

i am not a big fan of tradition whose only purpose in life is “we did it this way last time” but tradition that is soaked with purpose and meaning and absolutely dripping with Love… well, that is something that we will have to keep coming back to, year after year…

and i would love to hear stories from anyone else who did something at Christmas that involved reaching out to someone different from those expected… please share.

this year we got to be secret rooftop witnesses of this incredible act of Christmas mischief that Shane speaks about in this article and it was incredible hearing some of the stories from some of the people who had no idea where the money came from and yet for some of them it was a complete lifeline and life-changing moment for them:

So here is the start of the article shane wrote but click on the link to read the whole thing:

Critiquing the thick irony of the Christmas season is fair. It’s ludicrous that we celebrate the birth of the homeless baby Jesus by indulging in the biggest consumer spending of the year, scurrying around trying to find something to buy for people who have everything.

Nonetheless, there is something beautiful about giving, generosity and the contagious cheer that fills the world (not just the malls) during Christmas. We just need fresh imagination with how we celebrate amid the frenzy and clutter.

So we’ve started a new tradition here in the post-industrial concrete jungle of North Philadelphia … we call it the “Christmas Carol Conspiracy”.

You can read the rest of it here…

and that ‘c’ stands for ‘creativity’ – moving beyond spending a bunch of money you can’t afford on a bunch of stuff no-one needs [and often doesn’t even want] because of some kind of misplaced notion that it is ‘showing love’ when there are people you know, or live near, or try to ignore, who are likely to be having a very miserable holiday time and your act of creativity in the form of generosity or genuine love could make a world of difference…

so be challenged and if you have a creative idea to share here please do, because so far i have two from my friends bev and pete and that’s it – share stories with me [brettfish@hotmail.com] of what you’ve done in the past or are plotting to do:

Bev and Pete Brodrick: “As briefly mentioned, our family has developed some alternate traditions for this time of year.

We love the fact that there is just so much more opportunity to give in December. The list is endless and everyone seems to be more generous over this time. Wahoo.

Our family has 2 major events. Both events we will try to invite people that we may not see as often and open up our table for those who may have no where to go.

End of Year family celebration:

A family gathering, lunch or dinner, with a theme, decorations, set table and party ra-ra stuff.

In preparation for this event we think back over the year and remember all those that we appreciate. We send cards and give gifts in thanks and in love. Whether that is a close friend or a grocery store staff member who has helped carry groceries to the car, more times than we can count.

On the day, our family will spend time affirming one another and reading out the things that we appreciate about each other and we give each other an appreciation gift. We then celebrate with a family feast and treats!

[to be continued…]

so one of the things that came out of yesterday’s discussions when we were looking at the christian faith existing in a pluralistic multi-faith society was the need to understand what we mean by church…

one of the problems that the church faces today is that what we see as church is a combination of what church is meant to be about (according to God and the Bible) plus tradition and style and denomination and flavour and emphasis and a whole bunch of stuff that is actually not church has crept (or been invited) in

how do we peel away what we have added to figure out exactly what Jesus intended for His bride? also not to say that all that stuff is necessarily wrong either – there is a lot of tradition/style/emphasis/denomination etc that is good and positive and adds to the experience and journey of church, but the danger is when we hold too tightly to some of that stuff and see it as the thing when it is in fact only the clothes of the thing

another question that came up is ‘do we have a gospel message that we can preach at different churches that is the same message?’ – for example if we take the message of the gospel and preach it at an affluent white church, is that the same message we will preach to a township church in a more povertous situation? and if not, then is that truly the gospel message?

for example, as an affluent western churchgoer you can take the prayer of jabez and read it and pray it and say ‘oh look, God blessed me with everything i want, therefore the prayer is true’ (or more honestly ‘it works’ as with other superstitions) – but then the question is would that same prayer and ‘consequence’ work for a Christ follower in a country where they are being persecuted and even killed for their faith? Not at all. Not in terms of how we have come to understand or interpret “blessing” and “territory enlargement” and so on. Therefore the question is, “is that the gospel at all?” and with the prayer of jabez it is a resounding “No!” – if we were able to take out of context prayers that were between a person and God from the Bible and apply them to our lives as if they were teaching then we would have to hold on to the prayers of Job and Jonah and Amos and Isaiah as well and then suddenly it’s not so much about me being happy and comfortable and having a big pile of stuff and selling all my books and so somehow it doesn’t seem to work…

the kinds of questions that may need to be asked with the manpeeling are some that a lot of people (paid Christian workers such as myself perhaps?) will find difficult to ask because it may mean we have to change some stuff and quite possibly get a lot more uncomfortable – questions like ‘is having a building church?’ and ‘is paying a pastor/worship leader/youth worker church?’ and so on…

also questions that would make the rest of the church start to get nervous such as, ‘is 5% of the people in a weekly gathering doing 100% of the work church?’ and is ‘this group is the evangelists and that group is the missionaries church?’

and so on.

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