Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mixed Traditions

I was recently interviewed by the Gwinnett Daily Post for an article on families with split traditions. Anna was very nice, and the overall direction of the article is correct. There were a couple of quotes that came out awkward (like the one that said that I liked having the synagogue do all the decorating work--that's partially true, but I said it that way as a joke), and I do wish that she had written "Messiah" instead of "Christ," not because Christ is a dirty word, but because the connotation is different.

But it did give me a chance to honor my parents, who have been extremely supportive these last few years in my calling to a Messianic Jewish lifestyle. And it is that theme of honor that I'd like to touch on for a moment.

Messianics often find this time of year difficult. Most of us were raised on Christmas and have family who still celebrate it, but are distinctly uncomfortable with the pagan symbolism that has been carelessly mixed with the theme of the Messiah's birth (mistletoe, yule logs, decorated trees, etc.). How do we associate with our families during these times without feeling like we are betraying our spiritual convictions?

In answer, let us remember two important keys: 1) Yeshua put loving our neighbor (which definitely includes our families) just behind loving God in importance, and 2) the rabbis have always understood the command to honor our parents to reflect an honor of the God who put them over us. They have actually written that it is impossible to do one without the other.

So then, while Christmas no longer has any significance for me, it does for my parents. It is incumbent for me therefore to honor them if not the day. So on Christmas morning, I will be over at their house to exchange gifts (our gift to each other this year is a trip to Israel in April) and to have Christmas dinner together. I will enjoy their love and fellowship, and let them enjoy mine without mocking their dearly-held traditions. Discussions on the scripturalness (or lack thereof) about the holiday can wait for another time.

I'm not saying that we should compromise our beliefs, but that we should let love cover a multitude of sins.


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