Traditions vs. Trappings

Since COVID-19 protocols and precautions upended our normal way of doing things in the world, I’ve been pondering traditions vs. trappings. I happen to love traditions…holiday traditions, birthday traditions, church traditions, etc. What I don’t love is being trapped into doing something with no flexibility. I think there are times when people walk a fine line between traditions and trappings. There’s been a lot of loss during quarantine. There’s also been many gains. I think one of the gains is flexibility. I think many of the “extra” things (that we thought were necessary) have sloughed off and shaken away in the world and we’ve been left with fewer trappings and a more clear view of the traditions. The question is…are things still shaking out or is it settled now? (I personally think things are still shaking out.)

The Annual Easter Egg Hunt is a great example of a traditions vs. a trapping. We at FUMC Hurst have a wonderful tradition of hosting an Egg Hunt for the community each year. I feel like we have also been in a bit of a trapping of doing it the same way every year. I’ll admit that I (and many other families) haven’t loved the intense and rather competitive feel that the Egg Hunt can bring. COVID-19 restrictions forced us to get creative and lose the trapping and yet keep the tradition with a much different look. Curious what we did? You can read about the new Egg Hunt format here (and the bottom of that page includes pictures you can scroll through). Parents and children said the feel of this new Egg Hunt format was so much better and enjoyable and created time and space to build genuine connections with others, instead of feeling like a rushed experience. I thought so too.

VBS is another tradition that we hold dear (it, too, is filled with trappings). VBS is a well-oiled machine that takes a lot of work, but the template is already so organized, that we just drop the new theme into each year, make a few tweaks and roll with it. That trapping of a template isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it just is. There’s an underlying philosophy of “Why reinvent the wheel?” or “Don’t fix what isn’t broken”. COVID-19 precautions (and repairs needed to Fellowship Hall) have loosened the trappings of VBS this year and is allowing us (forcing us) to try new things with an outdoor VBS at local parks. See more here info about what VBS will look like this year:

I love the book “Who Moved My Cheese?”, and now that quarantine has forced our hand to reexamine traditions and loosen the trappings, I’m wondering what else needs to be reviewed, rethought, reimagined, revamped. It’s easy to keep down the same path of something that is working well, and I’m learning that it’s exciting to open our eyes to new possibilities. I wonder what traditions you need to review a little bit further? I wonder what trappings in your world need to be loosened? Let’s consider not waiting for something like quarantine or another circumstance to “move our cheese” and force our hand…let’s beat the circumstances to the punch and move it ourselves by praying about what needs to be changed, loosened, or let go completely and see where the Holy Spirit leads us.

Praying together: Oh Wonderful God, Please lead us out of trappings and into new things you are doing. Show us how to hold the essential parts of the traditions that honor you, and let the extras go. Guide us through doing what is pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

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