Summary: A sermon discussing the need for ritual in raising our children in a post-modern society.

Last week I spoke to you about the need to throw traditions by the way side if the principles of the gospel or models of the New Testament dictate the need to do so. I’m changing my mind about that this week. Well, not really, but I am going to try to provide the balance to that statement.

There is however a need in our society and in Christianity for rituals and traditions. The questions are which ones and why do we struggle with this issue so much?

Historically speaking what is the ideal American male? John Wayne! A rugged individualist who can start and end a bar fight all by himself and then go home and romantically woo the leading lady. When America was young and forming its identity separate and apart from its European roots one of the most important things that we wanted was in fact separation.

We wanted separation from the tyranny of our past. We wanted separation from the laws. We wanted separation from the religion and many other aspects of life that all have traditional baggage that must be thrown away. Therefore we threw out much of tradition that had been handed down to us. This was especially true of religion. The problem is that we did not know that people naturally develop traditions without even trying.

Because we are by nature always seeking ease and comfort we tend to develop routines, which become traditions without us realizing it. One of those traditions is to throw away or replace everything that appears to be tied to the religious ritualism of the not so perfect past.

(Luke 2:39-52) When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. {40} And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. {41} Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. {42} When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. {43} After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. {44} Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. {45} When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. {46} After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. {47} Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. {48} When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." {49} "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?" {50} But they did not understand what he was saying to them. {51} Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. {52} And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Try to imagine if you will walking into Jerusalem for the first time and seeing all of this activity that seems to be surrounding the reason you have came. Everyone along the road that you are traveling seems to have items of ritual with them. As Jesus takes in all that is going on around Him, He begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together. All of those scriptures that He has read in Isaiah are now becoming much more real to Him. He is beginning to see his roll in all this ritual. He even begins to see that His destiny will one day have Him return to Jerusalem on this day.

If ritual and tradition were capable of helping the Son of God to mature surely they are good enough for my son. The question again is which ones?

The task before us as a society is to find ways to mature the young men in our society through a productive and spiritual means that will help stem the tide of fatherless homes and leaderless churches. Reading the above text makes it clear that Jesus grew up in community that shared responsibility for raising one another’s children. Joseph and Mary were not horrible parents that would forget that they were responsible for this miraculous child. It seemed to be natural for a large group of people to travel with one another and share responsibility for someone else’s child. In my own childhood it was not uncommon for me to be disciplined by friends of my parents or mentored by other adults. There is a natural setting for school and Bible class teachers fill this vital roll however there is also a great need for others to step into this void as well. We need men and women in our churches to make themselves available to mentor the children of their brothers and sisters in Christ as well as children from the community.

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