Treasuring God in Our Traditions (2) - What is tradition?

What is it that you most want for your kids? If we've been Christians for long enough, we probably all know the 'right' answer to this question. We answer instinctively that we want them to grow up to become Christians, who fear and love and serve God, trusting in Jesus and following him as disciples. But the implied answer that our lives give to our children is not always the same as that!

In the first chapter of this book Noel Piper makes it clear from the start that this book is not about sickly-sweet, cutesy, folk-arty quaintness. Nor is it about some sort of arcane and archaic code of rules that need to be followed to belong to a particular group. What this book is really about is living our lives in a way that displays to all who come within our circle that Christ is our greatest treasure.

At the heart of her concern (though not her only concern) is the task we have to pass on to the next generation the story of the greatness of our God. She wants those of us who are parents to feel the weight and wonder of our responsibility to teach our children about Jesus. Of course, our children can't actually inherit our faith, but:
...although we cannot bequeath God to our children, we can help them know him and understand him in ways that prepare them to believe in his name. “Everyday” and “especially” traditions in a family are an important part of that teaching, of picturing who God is and what he’s done in our home and in the world. Traditions are a vital way of displaying our greatest treasure, of showing what—Who—is most important to us.
So what does Noel Piper mean by tradition? When I first picked up this book, I assumed that it only involved the kind of momentous occasions or activities that only happened once a year, like Christmas, birthdays and Easter, and the ceremonial (and sometimes centuries-old) ways that we mark them. But she defines it a lot more broadly than that (in chapter 2) to include the pattern and shape and significance that is carried by the everyday details of our lives. An everyday part of life can become a 'tradition' when some deeper or more significant meaning is attached to it.
The things we do regularly that help us in our deepest being to know and love and want God, the things that help our lives to be infiltrated with God—those things are tradition. And then if there are children in our lives, to pass these God-focused activities to the next generation—that’s what tradition is for a Christian. (p. 25)
If we want to work out what we really want for our kids, the details of our lives will reveal what our heart's desires are.

In the next two posts, I'll be looking at chapters 3 and 4 and thinking about why traditions are so important.