Living into New Traditions

“When it was evening on that day the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked because they were afraid, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’  After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  (John 20:19-22)

This past Easter Sunday was the first in many years we didn’t gather as a family at the home of Joy’s parents, Helen and George Martin.  Every year the family gathered for some part of the day on Easter Sunday in their Fall River home, where Joy and her siblings were raised.  Some came late, due to other family commitments, some lived too far away to gather every year, but usually most of us knew we’d have this time together on Easter.

Last year, we gathered at the home even though Helen had died a few weeks earlier.  We still wanted to come together, to continue this tradition and to honor Helen’s life in this way.  It was sad at times, but important to be in that place and together  again on this special holiday.

Helen and George’s home has been sold now, so this year we had to start living into some new traditions.  Not as many of the family were able to gather in one place, but Joy and I were blessed to have two of our three children, their partners, our two grandchildren, one of Joy’s sisters and her family, as well as  a friend of our youngest daughter at our home.  It felt different, but we were also able to do some things we hadn’t done when we were observing our former Easter tradition.  Most of our family, for example, were with us in worship in South Yarmouth which was a blessing. In addition, after our Easter dinner, many went for a walk along the beach.  There were other special moments for conversation and connection, too, that very well might not have happened before.

Traditions are important.  They help ground us and center us.  They give additional meaning and significance to different moments of our lives.  Their familiarity and dependability can be very comforting.  It’s not unusual, however, for all of us to need to live into new traditions at different points in our lives.  At times this happens because someone has died.  At other times, it can be because we have moved, others have moved, or because relationships have changed.  Sometimes it happens because of our health and we are no longer able to do the things we were once able to do.   Making and living into new traditions can be challenging.   So, it can be valuable to turn to God, and ask for the strength and guidance needed to start living into them.  These new practices and observances will not be the same, but they still hold out the promise of meaningful experiences, and poignant moments when we are once again made acutely aware of God’s grace.  New traditions, like old ones, can hold within them many reminders of God’s love and faithfulness.

When Jesus died, and was raised from the dead, his followers and friends had to start living in new ways.  Now that Jesus  was no longer going to be with them in the way he once was, things were changing.  These changes meant it was time for them to start embracing some new traditions.  While doing so,  they were invited to continue to trust in God’s grace, trust that they would experience the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in new ways.

 May we too embrace the changes that can come in life with hope and faith.  May we be ready to experiment with making and living into new traditions, when life unfolds in ways that make this necessary.  In doing so, may we look to God in Christ, and remember that God is faithful in all chapters and seasons of our lives.  As we live into these new traditions, seeking God’s guidance and strength, we will come to see how these also have the power within them to  deeply bless our lives and the lives of others. 

Blessings in this Easter Season!

Pastor John