Traditions, two legged hyenas and e-Bay

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I’ve been thinking about traditions – what to pass on to our kids and what not to. How do you make those decisions? I had not fully decided what to do about the ‘Father Christmas issue’ but it seems that daycare has decided that partially for us – there is no escape from Father Christmas. So we have focused on the idea that Father Christmas gives us presents to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, we will work on the rest later.

Our engagement was another event full of potential traditions. Yes, hubby did ask my Dad. But also we had an engagement ceremony in Malawi. Friends acted as family for me there (after all friends are family too). His family came to my family to ask for their girl. Gifts were given to show that they could support me – cloth to make clothes for me, cookware so I could cook for their boy and a huge panga (knife) so that my uncle could protect me from hyenas (the 2 legged kind aka other men!). When it came to the money that is where tradition went out the window though. My hubby is Chewa and they don’t do a full on bride price like some African tribes do, but they do pay a small amount from one uncle to another for the hassle of talking. Over the years this amount has grown and my uncle for the day, a local pastor friend, often lamented how young people were put of Christian weddings due to the costs so he decided to break with tradition and make our engagement an example. In the end he said that we are Christians so we don’t demand lots of money – instead he accepted 500 Kwacha – not enough to even buy a chicken. My brother commented afterwards he was sure he could have gotten more for me on e-Bay! But it taught me a lesson about tradition and when to drop them.

Traditions are fine, unless they stop you obeying God or prevent someone else obeying God. My friend was seeing again and again young people living together but never getting married because a tradition was preventing them – the wedding expectations and costs were getting to high, when in fact the whole idea is simply a vow taken together before God.

Colossians 2.6-8 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

So as I deal with issues like the tooth fairy (or mouse) and Father Christmas I have to ask myself is there anything about this that prevents my family or I following God. The answer may not be straight forward and may look different in our multicultural home than in others, but at the root is does this honour God.

May my traditions be rooted in You, Christ, and what ever is not, may You give me the courage to break or weed out.

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