In the first picture below the year is 1981 and it is our daughter Libby’s second birthday. Libby is placing a doll (handmade by her mother) in the doll bed that had been her grandmother’s, and then her mother’s.
The picture in the center was taken at a second birthday party last week as Libby’s daughter, Evelyn, is placing the same doll (Libby named the doll “Cranberry”) in the doll bed that has now spanned 4 generations. What you can’t see in the picture is that great-great-grandma Zeisneiss sang her babies to sleep with the same German lullaby that Evelyn has also learned as Libby has sung it to her. Once again this year our congregation’s children will gather around our rickety old crèche made decades ago of worn barn boards to tell again the story of how the love of God has been revealed to us in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. A mere 100 generations or so have passed since the birth of Jesus – not much in evolutionary or geological time. Our lives are short and precious, so we need to learn early and be reminded often, that we are spiritual beings living a momentary physical existence and that our purpose here is loving God and neighbor. The traditions of our church family use objects, songs, stories, and hugs to bring us to a deeper experience of our aliveness in vast matrix of God’s creation. More people in our culture know what Black Friday is than know what Good Friday is, and there is even a trend toward calling Thanksgiving Day “Gray Thursday,” but we are not defined by what we produce or consume. We keep the traditions alive because they keep us alive in the knowledge of who we are and why we are here.