4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
What kind of traditions does your family observe at Christmas-time? Do you put up a tree? Is it real or fake? Do you hide the presents in closet until Christmas Eve? Do you get the kids all wound up about Santa Claus? Is there a special meal? Who passes out the gifts? Does everyone come home for Christmas?
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is referred to as “The Shema,” which comes from the beginning word translated as “hear.” Its purpose is to institute new traditions for Israel on their way to the Promised Land. It’s important to remember what happened in Egypt and traditions are a great way to accomplish that remembrance. Israelites are encouraged to tie them as symbols on their hands, bind them to their foreheads and write them on doorframes and gates. That way the events are remembered. The children will ask about what they see and they will learn all about how God saved them out of Egypt “with a mighty hand.”
Traditions are a good thing. They link us to times past and remind us of the most important things. Christmas is a time when family gathers together to remember where they came from and how they got onto their current path. Traditions provide a thread that goes through our lives and links it together from beginning to end. They retrace our steps so we never forget what life is all about.
Christmas is a time for tradition. When you come together with your family for Christmas this year, remember your traditions and what they stand for. Remember the connection you have as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children. But remember, most of all, you are a child of the King who was born on that first Christmas Day.
As you pray today, ask God to use the traditions of this Christmas season to bring your family closer together even as you draw closer to your Savior. Think about your family’s traditions and let that remembrance take you back to a simpler time and a simpler faith.