December 10, Luke 1:57-66
By Scott Harrison, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lee's Summit
Traditionally people named their offspring after a close relative. Sometimes the father's name itself was given to the son. So of course, Elizabeth and Zechariah were going to name their son Zechariah — everyone knew they would.
Traditions can be limiting. Christmas traditions can be perilous. Traditions can keep family feuds alive and relationships dead for years, even for generations. Traditions can keep people eating fruitcake and cranberry sauce ("with berries, always with berries in this house!"), even though no one in the family likes either. Traditions can keep china plates on the table and women in the kitchen and men in front of football games and turkeys in the oven and families on the road. Traditions are powerful, sometimes to the good of all involved, sometimes to the detriment of all involved.
Maybe this Christmas, God's gracious gift to you is a broken tradition. Perhaps He wants you to break a tradition that has been harming you or your family for years. Maybe you traditionally spend yourself into debt at Christmas. Maybe you traditionally are too busy to worship the Christ-child at Christmas. Maybe you traditionally argue with your in-laws or deal too harshly with your children or drink too much or work too hard or worry excessively about whether or not you've bought the perfect presents at Christmas. Maybe through God's grace, it is time to break tradition.
Everyone knows what you will do this Christmas, or do they? Perhaps this year you need to say, "No," as Elizabeth did or do something "to everyone's astonishment" as Zechariah did.
Following God's plan rather than tradition, they named their baby John. John means "God is gracious." May all your bad traditions be replaced with God's grace this year.