How to Craft Meaningful, Annual Celebrations

So we want to talk about how do we craft really important, meaningful annual celebrations as a family. I hope you guys get to experience that, maybe around a Christmas or Easter or other holidays, but one of the things that the Bethke family and the Pryor family, and many other families that we know have attempted to do is restore some of the biblical holidays. And some people are familiar with that around maybe having experienced a Passover Seder, but probably my favorite biblical holiday for family teams is this holiday called Sukkot, which is coming up in just a few weeks. By the time you guys hear this, it might be actually during the season of Sukkot, and the Bethke’s have really leaned into these traditions, we have as well. This has caused a lot of people to ask many questions about like, “Why are you guys doing that? What does that mean?” And so Jeff, why do you guys do that? What is Sukkot to the Bethke family? Why have you guys started doing that?

Totally. Well, there’s so many different reasons. I think one of them is… You told me a long time ago, right? It’s when you become this father that wants to coach your kids and be a team, and all that, then you kind of start looking for curriculum of just like, “How can I just be pointing to the right things, and the right person and the right way?” And essentially, the biblical holidays in Leviticus 23, specifically was Sukkot. I think being the easiest, the best entry point, kind of the most fun, kind of the easiest starting point, just became one of those things that lit up for us. And then just once you do it, it kind of comes alive. You just realize it’s very rich, it’s very beautiful.

It has a lot more oomph than a lot of our holidays. Now I’m a holiday junkie. I love Christmas. I love Easter. I want them all. I want all the stuff. I want all the traditions with all of them, the American ones, the Jewish ones, the biblical ones. So I like it all. But yeah, there is something really powerful when you bring a holiday that is a lot longer than just a day, first of all, a week long, there’s something about, this is almost feels seasonal. It feels like a stopping, it feels like a reset or a marking in time. And then also when you center the Lord in it, not just the Old Testament story, but Christ Jesus fulfills it, right? So is Jesus and how is this New Testament and this new covenant, our new dwelling place and all these different types of things.

So I think, yeah, I mean, we don’t tend to overthink it. I think again, I think a lot of people, I do know some families that I think get into this stuff a little too intensely. I think they get into a little bit of legalism. They get into a little bit of you have to, I think that’s pretty dumb, bad theology, bad hermeneutics. But I think it’s just a great idea if you’re looking for something and you really want to center Jesus in your family. So, that’s what I would say. What do you say?

Yeah. Yeah. For us, it was definitely… A lot of people complain about how commercialized Christmas is. And I don’t think that means that you necessarily shouldn’t celebrate it. I’m like Jeff, I love Christmas. But it is hard sometimes to figure out, how do you really disciple your kids when the culture wants to take holidays different directions? And so I just thought… I actually started trying to invent holidays at first. And that was a lot more work and it seemed like-

A little harder.

Yeah, it didn’t seem like it would probably last generationally. So I started reading about these biblical holidays. And one of things I just really enjoyed about Sukkot was that there’s so much meaning, but there’s almost zero commercialization, every symbol. So you build the Succos, which is this little hut outside your house. And every symbol about it, about God being a canopy, about we’re on a journey to the new Jerusalem, about God coming to dwell with his people. And there are so many spiritual lessons. It took us a week just to unpack all the spiritual lessons and again, there’s zero commercialization because our culture hasn’t figured out how to make money out of Sukkot yet, thank God. For someday, maybe they will. But because that’s it.

It’s such a fun way just to train your kids and have an immersive, awesome, harvest kind of experience with your family. And so we’ve experienced in Jerusalem and decided to bring it into our lives here. And I think people are free to do it, free not to do it. It’s called the Festival of Tabernacles in many of the translations, but the word Sukkot, which means Tabernacles or Succos, and it’s the Hebrew word for that. It one of my youngest daughter, Kyra, she can’t stop. She’s so excited. It’s like two weeks. It’s our favorite holiday. For her, it blows Christmas away. So if you could imagine creating a holiday for your kids that has so much magic to it, that it actually competes with Christmas, but it’s all spiritual, that might be worth investing in. And so that’s why I’ve been really excited to experience this and also share this with other families.

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