Archive for April 26th, 2012

One of the blessings of not growing up in a family that went to church, is that I have never felt bound to a certain denomination, or style of worship service, or any of the other hang ups that we can be prone to as groups of people (not to say I have not attained my own hang ups over the years).

I remember clearly a conversation I had once with a teenager from hubby’s youth group, and her response to doing something ‘new’ was “but, we’ve never done it that way.” Yikes! When a teenager, at a time of life of questioning and challenging status quo, is stuck in “but that’s how we always do it” our churches have a problem.

Now, I have to say that I am a bit of a traditionalist. I love forms that have rational behind them. I agree that we need to honor the rites and rituals that are based on Biblical teaching. I do not, though, believe we should do things just because it is our tradition (ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? I am hearing the song “Tradition” in my head right now).

Traditions are not bad, they just need to be authentic.

For instance, there was the story of the handed down method of cooking a roast in one particular family. As the granddaughter was learning from her mother how to properly prepare it, like great grandma used to, the mother instructed her to cut about three inches of the roast off, before placing it in the pan. When the granddaughter asked why, the grandmother said, “it’s tradition.” The granddaughter persisted in wanting to know why. Just then the great grandmother walked into the room, and so, the question was asked, ‘why do we cut the end of the roast off?’ To which the great grandmother replied, ‘I do not know why you cut it off, but I had to because my roasting pan was too small.’ Authentic tradition? Not!

It is so easy to get into habits, that become traditions, that become a part of the fabric of who we are. If who we are is just a people of tradition followers, then our life is formed only by the past. But, if who we are is a people of only what is new, then our life is formed only by the present. To move into the future, we need to bring with us the traditions that are authentic, along with fresh perspectives and a willingness to be open to creating new, equally authentic traditions.

“The most damaging phrase in the language is:
“It’s always been done that way.”
Grace Hopper
(US Navy officer and American computer scientist, known as a pioneer in the field)

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