This past Wednesday our family met for our annual Family Hayride, Pumpkin Carving Contest and Chili dinner. We have gone to Stony Creek Farm for more than 30 years, but this year, since Stony Creek was closed on weekdays, we had to move to Spencer Farm.
There were 23 of us including 14 of our grandchildren (Graham and Randi and four of our grandchildren live in New York.) This is one of our family’s most fun traditions. Everyone takes the pumpkin carving contest seriously. Our granddaughter, Molly, won this year’s contest (see picture of her winning VW van).
Why are traditions so important? To provide a wise answer to that question I turn to my “friend” Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof…
In the dangerously unpredictable world of early 20th Century Russia, Tevye asks and answers, “How do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!” He goes on to explain, “Because of our traditions everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
That is amazing insight! From family traditions everyone knows who he or she is, and what God expects him or her to do. Do your family traditions do this?
The word tradition is taken from the Latin trado, tradere, meaning “to hand over, to deliver, to bequeath.” Your family traditions are “handing over, delivering, or bequeathing” your family’s identity. What message are your traditions delivering to your family?
The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians at Thessalonica to keep the traditions he had shown them,
2 Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV) So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Paul complimented the Christians in Corinth for keeping the traditions he had taught them,
1 Corinthians 11:2 (ESV) Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
Most all traditions tell your family members who they are, but do your family traditions also tell them what God expects them to do?
FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR TRADITIONS:
- Do your traditions indicate your spiritual priorities? One of our family traditions was the tradition of gathering for worship whenever our congregation determined we would meet. There were times when our kids didn’t want to go to church—especially they didn’t want to go to Sunday night youth group, or Wednesday night Bible class. I would listen as they gave me all the arguments of why they didn’t want to go, then I would tell them, “You are going because it’s who we are and what we do!” My job wasn’t to make them happy. My job as a father was to teach them to love and obey God. I wanted them to understand that our commitment to the Lord and to His church was our family priority!
Hebrews 10:24–25 (NLT) Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
- Do your traditions express your love? Because of the experience of Donna’s unexpected death, our family maintains the tradition of saying “I love you” every time we interact…whether it is by text, or phone, or in person, we never complete a conversation without expressing our love for one another. I guess we understand the reality that you never know when it might be the last time you see one of your family members on this side of Heaven. We determined to never leave an expression of our love unsaid.
John 13:1b, 34 (ESV) Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
- Do your family traditions include teaching God’s commands? This may be subtle but must be included. How can you create family traditions that teach your children God’s word? One of our special family traditions was having family devotions each morning before school in which we read the Bible and prayed together.
Deuteronomy 6:6–7 (NLT) And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
- Do your family traditions pass down your faith from one generation to the next…even for generations to come? Your family traditions should intentionally pass down your faith to the next generation.
2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
- Do you family traditions teach your children who you serve? Who you will serve as a family is a conscious choice and a firm commitment. Your traditions need to reinforce this commitment.
Joshua 24:15b (ESV) “Choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Tevye ends his explanation on tradition by saying, “Traditions, traditions…without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!”
Onward with traditions,