It’s that time of year again.

Snowflakes have been appearing rapidly over the past week – despite Melbourne sweltering through the longest November heatwave in 150 years… yes, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. On comes the barrage of sometimes silly, sometimes fun, and sometimes insulting ‘traditions’. But it can leave us asking what is the meaning of all this?

In its essence, a tradition is an activity that a group of people do to express something significant: to remember in unity. But more than that, a tradition is a powerful vehicle for transmitting beliefs from one generation to another. They’re things you ‘do’ to reveal what you ‘know’ – and what you want to pass on. Take for example Gods instruction to Israel from Deut 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children… you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

As traditions trickle down generations, culture is shaped around beliefs – and in this case, it was Israel who was shaped: to know God and to live as His people. But where such beliefs are not actioned and taught to the next generation, they’re assumed, later forgotten & finally denied. The meaning of traditions evolves from expressing beliefs to being about the ritual of performing the tradition “because we always do it like this”… until one day the futility of doing it sees it finally extinguished.  This can be seen in the calls to ditch the Lords Prayer in Parliament and the extinction of the nativity play in schools. But ‘breaking tradition’ at this time of year, a ritual still going strong even in a secular society is the singing of Christian Christmas carols. And herein lies a great opportunity, a rare culturally appropriate moment, to invite friends and family along to our Carols event where the gospel will be proclaimed through songs, a sermon & a play!

So have you grabbed a handful of flyers for our Multicultural service to disperse yet? Perhaps you could personally invite colleagues, slip one into Christmas cards for your child’s school friends, or hand out some at your street Christmas party? Have you paused and soaked in the words of carols so you may sing them with gusto in your Spirit rather than ‘just because that’s what we do’? Join with me in praying that God may use people’s dead rituals to bring them to a knowledge of life and repentance through His power.

Emily Shannon

the wife of our Discipleship Minister David Shannon