Family Traditions That Cherish Life
Wonderful aromas are wafting in from the kitchen. A juicy turkey continues to roast in the oven, and the spicy scent of a baked pumpkin pie still lingers in the air. In the living room, the lights are dimmed, and the glow of the Christmas tree and the flicker of the candles on the Advent wreath create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Sounds complete the picture. A buzz of activity can be heard from the kitchen. Some family members are helping grandmother put the finishing touches on the lavish meal. Their cheerful chatter mingles with the clinking of kitchen utensils. In the dining room, Grandpa gives directions as the table is set and the older boys haul in extra chairs. The younger children laugh and play in the family room. A holiday with family — there is no place you would rather be.
Perhaps this scene is familiar to you, or maybe it’s a dream that you’ve been longing for. There is something very special about family. A family is a place where one should feel loved, with no strings attached. A Christian family is a place where we care for each other, physically and spiritually. The Christian acknowledges that family is a beautiful gift from a loving God.
The family is, or should be, a place where the value of life is upheld. This is evident when the news of a pregnancy is greeted with joy and genuine concern for the welfare of mother and child. This is evident when thoughtful family members work to accommodate the special needs of aging grandparents and great-grandparents. Even the simplest acts of kindness and thoughtfulness are evidence of a pro-life culture that is profoundly Christian.
Not all families enjoy such love and harmony. Sin takes a heavy toll in many homes, and as a result, many families become fractured and dysfunctional. Broken homes seem to outnumber strong Christian homes in today’s culture. Even Christian homes are tainted by sin, but comfort can be found in knowing that forgiveness is found at the cross of Christ. Healing comes when the family is built on the foundation of God’s Word. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Every home can find peace and joy in Jesus. Single-parent households, blended families, all families thrive when Jesus is placed at their center.
Christ-centered families cherish life, and the holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to create life-affirming traditions. Begin by examining your own family. Are there ways to show love and care that have been overlooked? As with society in general, it could be that we have neglected the weakest and the most needy. Sadly, it’s all too easy to forget aging parents or grandparents who physically or mentally cannot care for themselves. Involve the entire family in providing such care. Sometimes the simplest acts of love mean the most. Regularly take time to sit and listen and show them they are important to you. Even small children can participate.
If a family member is institutionalized consider celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas where they live. This is especially important in those cases in which transportation issues may not be practical. Often you will find that nursing homes and other care centers offer the use of community rooms where larger family gatherings can take place. This may not seem as appealing as celebrating at home but, in the end, it’s the love and fellowship of family that matters. Who knows? Your small sacrifice could turn out to be one of the most memorable gatherings ever!
“For Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Caring for family members is a fruit of faith. The Spirit of God lives in us, and our actions reflect that. Cherishing life both physically and spiritually is faith in action. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Your family can also seek opportunities to serve others outside of your relation. Perhaps you can “adopt” an elderly or disabled person who has no family or can’t be with their loved ones. Make visits with them a part of your holiday tradition.
Inaugurate a family project that provides support for your local Christian Life Resources affiliate or for our home for mothers, New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers. Even small demonstrations of love can mean a lot to those who have never experienced the love and support of a Christian family.
As our families grow together in God’s Word, we also grow in sanctification. With Christ living in us, we become more concerned about living a life that glorifies God. We will no longer be satisfied with holiday-only traditions that cherish life. Our goal, as redeemed children of God, will be year-round traditions that cherish life in time and in eternity.
By Mr. Tim Snyder, Media Services Coordinator for Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI
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