Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel passage for this week brings up a challenge which has existed throughout the history of Christianity. Here Jesus and the Pharisees clash over tradition. This is not an unusual clash. To this day, many Christians with good motives complain that all traditions should beremoved from the life of the Christian, arguing from this passage of Scripture.
There’s a deep flaw in the discussion. Here it is. Jesus didn’t say to get rid of all traditions. He said that Scripture is not bound by our man-made traditions. Jesus asserted many things which could be rightly considered traditions. Think of the way he assembled with others for Scripture and set prayers on the Sabbath. Consider the fact that he would stand for reading and sit for teaching, a tradition in the synagogue but certainly not prescribed by God. Jesus has nothing against tradition. He even taught his disciples some new traditions which they were to perpetuate!
What is the point, then? It is that God’s Word is what should establish our tradition. Our practice is to be based on God’s revealed will, not on our own ideas. And if we are going to say that God’s Word is foundational to all our traditions, we need to be willing to change the tradition if and when we find that they conflict with Scripture.
For many years I was involved in a Christian tradition which rejected traditional practices. We objected to historic Christian liturgy. We always wanted to find something new. This point of view rejects the idea that God’s people have had faithful witnesses in every age. It seeks to recreate everything from the ground up. This is also not right. Jesus uses tradition. And when something is right, it is right, even if you have done it before.
May we have grace to find the traditions which spring from Scripture and to use them to nurture faith in Christians.
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