Gleanings In Joshua: The Power of Traditions

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When my wife and I were starting our family, we wanted Christmas to be more than a consumer’s holiday. We didn’t want our children growing up thinking Christmas was just another holiday, fretting over the perfect gift, spending loads of money in giving gifts and being with family. Although we do give gifts and spend time with our family, we wanted Christ to be the focal point of Christmas.

One of the things we started and continue to do, is on Thanksgiving we announce to the family to begin working on their gift to Jesus which we will present to him on Christmas morning.

Christmas morning in the Aguilar house is much different than most homes. There is no waking up early to ransack the gifts under the tree. Christmas begins with gifts to Jesus and with songs of worship in between. We work through, What God wants for Christmas, even today with our kids in adulthood and their teens, it isn’t Christmas without it. My kids have done dance routines, drawn pictures, and sang songs to Jesus on Christmas. When they were little they did their very best and it was beautiful to see. As they have grown up the gifts have become even more meaningful and very deep. This year my youngest son wrote a poem which brought me to tears.

Never underestimate the power of traditions, memorials and symbols to display the glories of Christ.

What Do These Stones Mean To You?

In Joshua chapters three and four, we read of the miracle of God parting the Jordan for the people of Israel. Before the Lord closed the waters he told them,

Joshua 4:1-7 (ESV)
1  When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua,
2  “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man,
3  and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”
4  Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe.
5  And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel,
6  that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’
7  then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

God wanted them to make a memorial which would lead their kids to ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” and when they asked, their parents had the opportunity to explain the glories and power of Yahweh. The memorial gave the parents the opportunity to put God on display.

Gospel Memorials Left By Christ

When we look in the Gospels we see Christ left us some Gospel memorials for us to follow and I believe one of the reasons he did was so that our kids can ask “what is that for?”

Baptism

My kids have grown up in church, have seen many baptisms,and every single one them asked me “why do we baptize?” Because they ask, My wife and I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. We get to tell them baptism is a public declaration of faith and the first step of obedience to Christ. Baptism is telling the world, I am a disciple of Christ now.

We share that baptism gives us a beautiful picture of what Jesus does in transforming our life. He buries the old me, with all my sins and we are raised to walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)
1  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
2  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

The Lord’s Table

Another picture Christ left us with is the Lord’s supper, which takes us back to when Christ broke bread and drank wine declaring to them the bread was his body and the wine his blood. Jesus also asked his disciples to do this in remembrance of him. In this picture we remember Christ sacrificial work on the cross, his resurrection, he will one day return and the salvation He provides. All of my kids asked about this too, which created another Gospel conversation.

I remember when my daughter noticed a family member who didn’t take communion and asked us why. We explained that the Lord’s Table is for those who are disciples, followers of Christ. This conversation impacted her so deeply she began to pray and share the Gospel with him.

Never underestimate the power of traditions, memorials and symbols to display the glories of Christ.

Some Guidelines

Here are some helpful guidelines to help you think about some traditions, memorials or symbols you can display for your family.

  • Let the tangible lead to the intangible. The Israelites used rocks. Christ uses bread, wine and water. We used Christmas gifts. Use something they can see which will help guide them to ask for an explanation of what they can’t see.
  • Make it meaningful almost ceremonial. The Lord made a public declaration of the stones. Christ made a public declaration of the of baptism and the Lord’s Table. We gather everyone up and announce begin working on your gifts for Jesus at thanksgiving. When Christmas comes, Christ’s gifts come first then we open ours. It is very intimate family worship time.
  • Fill it with purpose. You don’t want to just waste time or have fun, but I promise, you will have both. You want to look back and say we did this so it will lead my family to ask “what do these stones mean to you?”
  • Make it personal. Make it something that has a personal impact, not just on you, but your family. Remember we want them to ask “what do these stones mean to YOU?”
  • Get everyone involved. When we started our Christmas tradition, we had 3 children and their ages were 5, 3 and 1. The level of involvement was age appropriate but as they grew, the older kids influenced the younger ones by their gifts to Jesus. The younger children were discipled by the gifts of our older children. Our older children were discipled by the gifts my wife and I would prepare. Now we have 4 children and our youngest has never experienced a Christmas without our tradition.

So are there any traditions, memorials, and symbols you use to display the glories of Christ? I would love to hear about them.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

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