I missed Christmas last year. It’s a holiday steeped in long-lasting family traditions, but those traditions didn’t happen. Instead, I spent the holiday in a hospital bed while my children woke up on Christmas morning in a friend’s home, joining in their Christmas traditions.
And that’s okay.
I am prone to placing too much importance in traditions. But I am learning to pare things down and focus on what matters most. The truth is that my kids still slept in warm beds and their sleepy-eyed, pajama-covered bodies were still smothered in love as they opened the presents I bought for them. The things that mattered most still happened even if they happened in ways I didn’t plan for.
The Jews had a lot of traditions and beliefs about what the Messiah would look like and do when He finally arrived. Jesus didn’t fulfill those, but he did do what mattered most: healing the sick and lame, feeding the hungry, and forgiving sins. He died on the cross and arose to conquer death so we could live forever. He fulfilled every prophecy. If only the Jews had focused more on those than on their own traditions.
The Trinity planned the Messiah’s coming and foretold every detail in Scripture. Then Jesus came and fulfilled every prophecy perfectly. Still, when Jesus took control of the wind and waves, displaying His deity before His closest disciples, even they missed it. “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him” (Matthew 8:27)! They missed the most important truth—that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.
I love traditions, but I never want my traditions to cause me to miss what matters most. The presence of God and His love for people will always trump wrapping paper, bows, and even my presence on a special day. God was present at Christmas last year. My children were loved. He was glorified both in our friend’s home and in my hospital room. That’s what matters most.