When the Family Grows - Traditions Change

It's hard to believe it's been six weeks since my last post. Where does the time go...?

Verna and I recently traveled out to Denver to spend a weekend with our oldest son Tim and his wife Kris.  It was a bit surreal staying in their home as their guests (I must say it was very cool having him pay for dinner!). We visited the places and restaurants they enjoyed. The weekend revolved around the rhythm and pace of their life. Verna and I enjoy quiet weekends at home with deep conversation and a good night's sleep. Tim and Kris enjoy trendy restaurants and late nights. As different as we are we had a great time together. 

Since our visit I've thought a bit about traditions - and how they change as our family grows and changes. When our children were little everyone loved the beach. As they grew the beach was still the easiest place for our family but we began to hear 'this is boring' or 'there's nothing to do'! As they grew into their latter teen years we gave up trying to find a vacation that everyone would enjoy - not to mention finding a time that worked for everyone's schedule. Now that they're young adults, spending time with them is best tailored around who they are as people. But as our family grew we learned to adjust and flex with the changing seasons of all our lives. Today Verna and I celebrate wonderful memories of past traditions and times enjoyed together. Another part of us grieves the loss of former times together and what they meant to us. But then we gladly embrace this new season - and with it the birth of new traditions and new memories. We're even planning to get the whole crew together around Christmas - you guessed it - at the beach!

As the Grace Church family grows and experiences changing seasons we too face the changing traditions that inevitably follow. Over the past couple of years we've seen a new look for the women's tea, a new vision for engaging our community called Engage Fayette, new approaches to how we disciple our children, adult learning moving from classes into smaller group settings sponsored by the Center for Spiritual Formation, new opportunities for women and men to develop spiritual friendships that are more natural. We are seeing new traditions begun in global missions as we enter long-term partnerships with non-western national leaders and communities in places like Moldova and Ghana. We also see new traditions being formed as we worship together.  As our family changes it is no small challenge honoring the past as we engage our present. While we remain committed to honoring the legacy of our past we are equally committed to birthing the new traditions that become the legacy of our future.

Jesus talked about changing traditions. He reminded us that old wineskins must be ripped open and replaced if the wine of new life is to expand. As we all know change is always challenging. Whether it be within our natural family or our spiritual family if often feels like the fabric that held our family together is being torn. But as our family grows and matures we too must adjust and flex with our changing seasons - it's part of becoming 'new' in Christ and allowing this new life to find room to breathe and expand.

So how do we handle the changing seasons of life in our spiritual family with grace ?

  • Celebrate the past with the richness of our memories and the richness of it's legacy - while we cannot protect all the traditions themselves we can protect the values that birthed them. 
  • Grieve the loss of traditions that were meaningful to us - one writer wisely describes the spiritual journey as a lifelong series of grieving's as we learn to let go of our past to live well in the present
  • Gladly embrace who we're becoming - learn to enter and enjoy new traditions, the building of new memories and a new legacy
  • Celebrate the 'new' things God is doing - Jesus' vision for us is that we become 'new' creations in Christ - what is true for us as individuals is also true of us as a family.

Fighting for your heart,

Gary