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Declaring a “New” Christian Tradition

Declaring a “New” Christian Tradition

I was a bit of a humbug when it came to birthdays until a few years ago. I’m not sure why I was a humbug exactly, and now come to think of it, the moment of change wasn’t actually a few years ago. It was like twenty-two years ago! Dang! Life certainly does move fast. None of this is the point. Maybe it’s a little point.

The point, at least for this first point I’m making, is that when it came to my family we didn’t celebrate birthdays without much hoopla. The basic fundamentals were you got to pick out what was for dinner, you got to open a present, and you got to pick out what piece of cake you wanted – oh – did I say the cake was ice cream cake? That was awesome.

So the point I’m trying to make is that growing up I didn’t think that much of birthday celebrations, and I think it came from the tradition in which I was raised.

All that changed, and I’m realizing the change happened more gradually than I remember it, after I read a book called Here and Now by Henri Nouwen.

Henri said this: “Birthdays are so important. On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. On our birthdays people can say to us, “Thank you for being!” Birthday presents are signs of our families’ and friends’ joy that we are part of their lives. Little children often look forward to their birthdays for months. Their birthdays are their big days, when they are the center of attention and all their friends come to celebrate.

“We should never forget our birthdays or the birthdays of those who are close to us. Birthdays keep us childlike. They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life.

“Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday, we do not say: ‘Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.’ No, we say: ‘Thank you for being born and being among us.’ Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life.

“I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam or promotion or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone ‘thank you for being you’.”

Thanks to Henri I began to see birthdays differently. Over time, I began to celebrate them differently, too. For instance, July is basically Anna Rose’s birthday. Lia gets August. And so on and so forth. As for me, I still tend to hide from existence on my particular day in September. But I’m getting there.

The point being: we tend to treat traditions the way we experienced them, but that doesn’t mean that we have to always treat them that way. Oh, and that Henri Nouwen is an influence.

Now to the REAL POINT!

Yesterday, I got to be a part of a House Blessing Party. My friends Kevin and Beth had been scraping their pennies for like thirty years for this house in the woods next to some land they could farm. Finally they had enough pennies and so they did it! Boy did they do it – the house is beautiful.

But instead of a House Warming Party, Kevin and Beth invited us to a House Blessing Party.

The festivities started off a lot like a House Warming Party. We arrived bearing wine bottles and cards. There was a spread of food on their beautiful oversized granite top island. From the loft in the great room, a brass band was playing. (OK – that was different!)

Friends hugged and mingled around enjoying each other’s company. Then, about a half-hour into the party, Kevin gathered us in the great room and explained to us that we were about to have a worship service. We were going to sing, read Scripture, share a few words, sing some more, and then spread around the house and pray over every inch of it.

Papers with lyrics and scripture were passed out. We began to sing.

O Come All Ye Faithful…

Holy, Holy, Holy…

We read Psalm 127. I Peter 2:4-7.

Kevin and Beth shared a few words. A few guests did as well.

We sang “In Christ Alone”

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand…

(I’m telling you all this because you should do it!!!)

Then, Kevin passed around a basket with Scriptures on it, and we each picked one and walked around the house and outside the house and prayed over every inch of the thing.

It was so cool.

HERE IS THE POINT!!!

I don’t know if this blog is powerful enough to institute a “new” Christian Tradition across the land. Maybe some of you are like, “Dude, we have House Blessing Parties every week.” Well, to that I say, join me! Let’s spread the good word that House Blessing Parties are totally where it’s at.

In conclusion, by the power vested in me by the written words that have been typed and sent to Everyday Exiles, I declare that every Christian who buys or rents or builds a house, apartment, or hovel of any shape and size shall consider sealing the moment with a House Blessing. So help us God.

Amen.

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Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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