I had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year yesterday. It’s a small tradition that I celebrate – just me and the cup – to usher in my favorite season. Yes, it was in the 90’s outside, but hey, it was overcast and had the illusion of being nippy out. And, when I had the first sip, it was all colorful leaves and steaming pots of chili in my mind.

I love fall. When the air does eventually cool down and I start to pull out sweaters and my Snuggie (woohoo!), I’m invigorated in a way I don’t experience the rest of the year. My mind starts to turn to the steady succession of fun and meaningful holidays, and the other many traditions they bring.

What is a tradition? Here’s the dictionary’s answer:

A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.

Maybe that’s why I love traditions so much; they have their “origins in the past.” They’ve been done again and again with special meaning to the history of my people. Yours, too, I’d wager. Take the special recipe that you painstakingly make every year to share around your holiday table, for instance. Maybe it was originally made three generations ago; your grandfather’s favorite, to celebrate his first Christmas home from the war. Perhaps yours is a game-playing family, who gathers by the fireplace to engage in a fierce charades competition, or maybe you’re musical, and gather instead around your great-grandmother’s piano for carols. Regardless, year after year these rituals take place all across our land, bringing us back to the heart of our families and touching, again, on the things most important.

About 2000 years ago, a man sat at a table, surrounded by his closest friends and confidants – his family – and started a tradition. Those gathered there didn’t know it would be their last meal with him, so they were confused by his talk of leaving and remembrance. But he kept on, showing them how to routinely gather to share in the bread and the cup, what those items represented, and why they were important. Very shortly thereafter, they stood at the base of a bloodied cross and began to understand what He had been talking about.

Traditions are like a beautiful thread, the end held by the one who started it, and the thread, itself, held at different points by each of the generations coming after. They connect us and remind us that we belong to something greater than ourselves. Our own family traditions bind us together, certainly, but even those without family, can grab hold of the scarlet thread that Christ held out to those men around that table, and become part of the family of God. That thread of sacrifice connects us to something greater than ourselves, and it becomes stronger each time we follow the tradition of gathering and remembering.

If you find that you’re not holding that scarlet thread of tradition, all it takes is laying down your heavy load and accepting the gift of a Certain Man’s help. Then He’ll hand you the thread. You’ll belong and be connected, and you can have the privilege of passing it on. After all, it’s a family tradition.

And maybe even more delicious than a Pumpkin Spice Latte.


On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 NLT

“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” Romans 10:9-10 MSG

But thank God! …Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT