The word "oxymoron" is defined as: a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. "New Traditions," the theme for this year's Advent Devotional, certainly seems to be a textbook example of an oxymoron. How can you have a tradition, something that is long-established and has been passed along from generation to generation, be new and different? Yet, we seem to utter these words all the time: "My family... church... school... friends... have started a new tradition." Sometimes these changes to our routine are brought about because we have consciously decided to alter what we do, sometimes they are thrust upon us by outside events, and sometimes they are just happy surprises that we experience and then adopt for ourselves.
This year many things will be changing in my life: leaving behind familiar and comfortable people, places, and rituals; accepting new responsibilities; encountering new and different places, people, and experiences; observing and partaking in new rituals; and creating my own "new traditions."
Something new happened on the first Christmas so many years ago -- a tiny child was born who would alter the course of the entire world and even eternity. This newborn child brought about incredible changes to the way people would think and believe: He taught people to love and accept those who were different from themselves by challenging long-held social and societal norms; He challenged wealth and status; He embodied a whole new covenant with all people. Jesus gave humanity a new way of understanding and relating to God and His birth changed the entire course of human history. Was this similar to establishing a new and different tradition? I would say so. Has that change been an incredible blessing? Absolutely.
Changes to our Christmas traditions may not be as extraordinary as those brought about by the birth of Jesus, but sometimes they feel pretty incredible, for better or worse, in the moment! It is my hope that through these advent meditations we will bring honor to past traditions, remember times we have created or inherited new traditions, and reflect upon how all of this has affected and blessed our own personal, spiritual journeys through Advent and Christmas.
- Kyle Ballantine, editor