I recently had the privilege to experience the incredibly well done musical, Fiddler on the Roof, at Lancaster Bible College. Every part of this production was phenomenal. When I heard the quote below by Tevye, it caused me to consider my take on this idea of tradition and how it remains something that each of us wrestles with from time to time.
“Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything…How to sleep, how to eat…how to work…how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, “How did this tradition get started?” I’ll tell you…I don’t know. But, it’s a tradition, and because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
Traditions can be a great tool to help us remember our past and keep us focused on what is important. But, traditions can also make it very hard for us to embrace the change that is happening all around us. The tradition of our traditions can even cause us to be stuck and eventually, like Tevye, we can forget how certain traditions got started.
I find the last sentence of this quote particularly interesting. “Because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
That’s a pretty powerful statement. It’s hard to argue with traditions if that’s how they affect individuals and communities.
I am a part of a community of faith that follows Jesus and we are learning together how to embrace specific traditions, practices, and rhythms that will deepen our relationship with God and each other. As we continue to share faith and life we desire to remind each other who we are in Christ and how God intends us to live. As you can imagine, it’s not worth the risk for us to neglect being together because there’s too much at stake.
The same is true with my immediate family. If we don’t hold fast to certain traditions that we’ve put into place, we run the risk of missing amazing opportunities to share faith with the next generation and encourage each other to keep our eyes on Jesus.
For example, we have traditions of reading a Scripture with the kids and discussing God’s characteristics, promises, and instructions for life. Typically we take time around the dinner table to share highs, and lows, the things we’ve learned, along with opportunities to show that people matter. These simple traditions continue to shape us and help us to stay grounded in the things that we believe about who God is, how He loves us, and the ways that He calls is to live life.
What traditions have shaped who you are today? Are there any traditions that need to be forsaken, or at least tweaked? Are there new traditions to consider?