I recently enjoyed reading “Treasuring God in Our Traditions” by Noel Piper. It seems that for many in our generation, “tradition” and “traditional” have negative connotations and are almost despised, dirty words. Traditions are really beautiful and meaningful though (especially when they are not binding or heavy!). In these first 3 1/2 years of marriage and family life, I have loved getting to establish our family traditions and begin the habits and celebrations that will mark our lives, impress our children’s hearts and be the colorful fabric of our memories.
In choosing to read this book, I was partially looking for some good ideas for traditions, and partially just curious about Noel Piper as a writer and someone I might look up to as a Titus 2 model. Her husband (John Piper) has profoundly impacted my life through his writings, and “Treasuring God in Our Traditions” is a valuable glimpse into the life of this godly couple who makes much of God and has shaped their family life around a desire to honor and enjoy Him.
Noel writes about what a tradition is, what makes traditions important, how they teach and shape us. She breaks traditions into two categories: 1) Everyday – routines, habits, etc. and 2) Especially – holidays and events. All these facets of tradition and family life are tied into their ultimate purpose: pointing us back to God – who He is, and what He has done. This is just along the lines of what Psalm 78 describes:
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
Here are some favorite quotes from this book, to give you a taste (and perhaps whet your appetite!)…
“A tradition is a planned habit with significance. It is the handing down of information, beliefs and worldview from one generation to another by word of mouth and by regular repetition of example, ceremony and celebration. For a Christian, tradition is laying up God’s words in our own hearts and passing his words to the next generation.”
“All of us are training our children both intentionally and unintentionally. We need to make sure we aren’t leaving the important things to happenstance…”
“Our mouths will be filled with God’s words only as much as our hearts are.”
“Celebrations are the ritualized interruptions in the continuum of daily life which remind us who we are, where we came from and where we are going. (Milo Shannon-Thornberry)”
“How will our home look if our celebration is a picture of anticipation and waiting for God’s plan to be completed, a picture of our joy in the salvation he has begun for us? What visible things will fill our house as we celebrate what God has done through Jesus?”
The Piper’s family stories, heirloom recipes and John Piper’s poetry woven throughout make this piece an easy and enjoyable read. It is loaded with practical ideas directed by Scripture.
I came away with several ideas I hope to implement in our home, but perhaps more importantly, several questions to talk with the Lord and my husband about as we seek to shape our family life around that treasure that is most important to us – our Lord.