God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: “When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people. Zechariah 7:5-6 (The Message)
As Easter approaches, many of us give up something for Lent. I never participated in Lent (especially attending a nondenominational church) until I asked someone why they participated. “I give up something I enjoy each year during Lent as a way to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross.”, my friend said. Although, giving up TV, Facebook or sweet tea (in my case) doesn’t come close to the sacrifice Jesus made, it acts as a daily reminder of something we might normally forget or overlook during other times of the year. The unimaginable sacrifice – God sending His only Son to die for the forgiveness of our sins.
I have also embraced the Jewish tradition of placing a Mezuzah on the door frame of our home. It houses a scroll of parchment paper with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 inscribed on it.Each time we enter or exit the house it is a visual reminder of God’s laws, commandments and my responsibility as a Christian and a mother. I encourage you to look up this Jewish tradition and read more about it.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.Deuteronomy 6:4-9
I have embraced these traditions because they draw my mind and heart back to Christ. I don’t participate because it’s expected of me or because it will make me a better Christian. I don’t participate because everyone else is doing it. I have chosen to adopt these traditions because they draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. They keep my eyes focused on Him. All of these rituals and traditions are rooted in faith and a desire to draw closer to Christ, but when we allow them to become “fossilized” over time, they become empty actions that slowly erode values. (fossilized means no longer useful, broken down, set in a rigidly conventional pattern of behavior, habits, or beliefs). Our faith and love for the Lord should be purposeful, engaging and joyful . . . far from fossilized.
Pray about the rituals and traditions you have embraced or been taught over the years. If they have become empty traditions with no meaning attached to them, rethink taking part in them or take time to study the significance behind them so that you can appreciate and grow in Christ as you take part.
If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me. Matthew 10:38-39 (The Message)