We like to go hiking as a family. It has become something of a day-off tradition around our home. I like spending time with my wife and children, and my children enjoy the chance to explore. Often we find ourselves hiking near or around streams and creeks. When we do it never ceases to amaze me how many bridges my son and daughter can find. Did you know that they are everywhere? Sometimes it will be a well placed stone or two, sometimes a pile of bracken, or a fallen log, or an old tire. Sometimes they are big and fancy affairs that actually look like bridges – complete with decks, and railings. And whether they were placed there by luck or on purpose, we always have to stop and try them out.
Traditions are kind of like that. Anything can become a tradition. Anything at all can serve to bridge the gap between one generation and the next. Sometimes we work really hard to create one for our families, sometimes they just sort of happen by luck. Some are meant to last only a short while, others prove themselves through the test of time. Yet, each has it’s own kind of charm.
Traditions connect the past to the future, one generation to the next. Traditions allow families to walk together long after distance, time and even death have separated them. Just try to think of Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Easter without giving a thought or two to your parents and grandparents.
Knowing the power of tradition, is it any wonder that God makes such good use of it in our lives? Baptism connects us to the very same life and Faith enjoyed by our forefathers (and foremothers). Our hymns and liturgies give voice to our prayers and praises in the very same words they used, the very same words used even now in heaven. The Lord’s Supper sits us at the very table from which every Christian is and has been served by our Lord – indeed, is being served by Him even now!
And while the old Baptismal font may be replaced over time, the styles and the settings of the words of our liturgies may change, and the place where you come to that altar may be different than when you were younger, the bridge Himself is still the same. The same Lord, and God over all. One faith, one Lord, one baptism. This truth remains the same, just as it was for your parents and their parents before them. One bridge from this life to the next, from one generation to the next, from one Christian to the next. One Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the coming weeks and months, look at the rich traditions around you (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc…). Take the time to relish in the particular charms of each. Where did it come from and where is it leading? Give thanks for the traditions handed down to you by those who went before, and give thought to the ones you are handing down to those who will come after. Are they built to last? Are they built on Christ? Maybe it’s time to begin a new tradition.