It's Saturday morning. A beam of sunlight sneaks through a crack between the curtains, and my family is up. We head out the door, snug in our hooded sweatshirts and jeans as the crisp fall air hits our lungs. When we arrive, we stand in line for almost an hour. People catch up with old friends as they wait. Everyone is in a good mood, especially considering how early it is. My wife, my son, and I finally reach the front of the line and are rewarded with our prize - a styrofoam plate piled high with sausage links and pumpkin pancakes.
Year after year, the Morton Pumpkin Festival pancake breakfast is an event we don't miss. This is a tradition years in the making. More than getting a plate full of good food, we go for the memories and connections we make over pancakes. We all have traditions in our families that bring us together. But how can we make the most of those moments to point our families to Jesus?
Your family already has more traditions than you probably realize. Think about how you celebrate holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, 4th of July, Memorial Day - you probably do something special to celebrate these days. What about the different seasons? What family activities do you enjoy during the fall? Summer? Winter? Spring? How does your family commemorate birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, marriages, or other milestones?
You don't need to completely overhaul your family plans to point to Jesus in the midst of them. Setting aside a moment to pray as a family during your gathering is a natural way to remember God's faithfulness and blessings. For holidays like Christmas and Easter, break out the Bible after your meal and read the Gospel stories. Have a few family members share a memory of a time when the birthday girl reminded them of Jesus. Whatever the event, you can find some new ways to prioritize your family's commitment to become more like Christ.
Ok, so maybe you have some new ideas to point your family to Jesus in your traditions. But what about all the other days of the year? How can you continue to lead your family in discipleship when it isn't Christmas, Easter, or your kid's birthday?
There is no app, shortcut, or cheat-sheet to make sure you take advantage of every teachable moment as they come up. Pointing your family to Jesus when those sponteous moments present themselves takes awareness and self-discipline. Commit yourself to look and act - look for ways to turn a mundane situation into a worship experience; act on those impulses and speak up. It may be helpful to set a small goal for yourself. "When I notice a moment to point my daughter to Jesus, I won't shrug it off. I will talk to her about it at least once today!" The more it's on your mind, the more you will notice the Holy Spirit at work around you. God gives you so many chances each day to praise him, all you have to do is pick one!
As I ate pumpkin pancakes with my family, we thanked God in prayer. We talked about all the joyful people that came together over pancakes, and how the feast we'll have with our Father in heaven will be even more incredible than our delicious fall breakfast. You can leverage the traditions you already have with your family to point them to Jesus - you just have to look for opportunities and act on them!