So, November 28 was the first Sunday in Advent and the traditions are kicking in. Or, at least they are kicking in more than last year! Praise God for that.
I am grateful for the trees, the lights, and the wreaths that have been put up in the Sanctuary, and that we can come together to enjoy them. I am delighted to come to, and in my case, participate in a concert and a Christmas Eve program, and a live Nativity scene! How awesome is that?!
There is a tradition that I have missed for decades, and for some reason it’s been bouncing in my head here lately, creating a longing that I cannot satisfy at this point. It has to do with Costa Rica where I grew up and a tradition that was very unique to that country.
San Jose, Costa Rica built up around a street called Central Avenue—not unlike many a town anywhere around the world. The Central Market was on it. The National Bank was on it, as were all kinds of businesses. The first McDonalds came to “Avenida Central.” So it was a big deal that throughout December, pretty much every night, they would close down Central Avenue to cars and it turned into a giant pedestrian mall.
That’s not the tradition I speak of exactly. Along that way, people would sell little bags of white stuff. For those of you from Miami, no, not that stuff. These little plastic bags had confetti in them. They might have been newspaper, they might have been office paper, but you bought a bag (or three) of confetti and kept walking. And then you threw it at people. Hopefully on their hair, not in their faces. After a while it looked like snow. You sloshed through it like snow. You brushed it off your hair and clothing like snow. The street and windowsills got covered with it like snow. It was beautiful and fun.
The tradition apparently started decades before I got there when only at the Central Park, all the maidens lined up on the inside of the sidewalk that circumnavigated it, and the bachelors lined up on the outside. Then the women started walking in one direction and the men started to walk in the opposite direction, and when you saw somebody you liked, you threw some confetti at them. At some point, you hoped, the snow-like flirting would turn into one of the pair turning directions thus turning the flirting into a conversation. By the time I got to it, it was less of a mating ritual (although not completely) and more of a social, family sort of thing. As a young boy I looked forward to going with my parents and peering into the Christmas toy displays downtown. As a teenager I worked hard at ditching my parents and hanging out with the guys who somehow longed for the days of yesteryear.
Traditions are not about yesteryear. Traditions are built so that you look forward to the opportunity to repeat them. Traditions drive forward, not backwards. People complain about always eating the same thing at Thanksgiving. They want something novel. Not me! Bring on the turkey! Bring on the pumpkin pie. There are 364 other days to try new stuff. I look forward to recreating the blessing of last year. I look forward to sitting stuffed on the couch and falling asleep in the middle of a loud football game. I look forward to…
Thanksgiving has passed now. I trust you enjoyed the traditions. But more important than the turkey or the apple pie (you really should have both) are the traditions that are coming in Advent: the celebration of God’s declaration to Mary that the Messiah was coming; the celebration of the angels telling the shepherds that the Messiah was born; the celebration of the Magi bearing gifts then discovering the Gift lying in a manger. What tradition do you cherish the most? I hope you will live into it fully this Advent. And I hope that it has something to do with being in church.
It does for me.
Oh Come let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord.