Friday, April 27, 2012

Why? Because We've Always Done it This Way!

Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental forces of this world rather than on Christ.

How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?

Ten.  One to change it and nine to lament how much they miss the old one.

Now, before my Episcopalian readers get miffed at this joke, please note that I attend the Episcopal Church for most of my adult life.  I love the liturgy and cherish my Book of Common Prayer from which I take the daily readings I share with you.

But, let's face it.  The Episcopal Church is traditional.

Very traditional.

So much so that the revision of the hymnal in 1982 and the addition of Rite II to the 1928 BCP threatens unholy schism in the church.  As a good-will compromise, my church, along with many others, offers both the old and new rites in different services, smoothing down those ruffled feathers.

When I return to church after a long hiatus, I closely observe the worship behaviors of the congregation.  I don't want to stand out as a person out of the loop.

After all, my church upbringing is sketchy at best.  I remember my mom feeling embarrassed to attend services because she only has one hat.  In those days, women are required, by tradition, to cover their heads.  Needless to say, we do not attend very often.

So, I watch.  And, I learn.

When to sit.  To kneel.  To stand.

To genuflect.  Cross myself.

Traditions . . .

Going through the motions.  None of which guarantees a closer walk with the Lord.

For some, whose hearts are centered on Christ, a genuine expression of adoration and worship.

For others, nothing but a sanctimonious show.  A routine practiced because we've always done it this way.

For me?  I'm trying to fit my square peg in a round hole.

Again and again.

It isn't until I join the Methodist Church that I see how human-imposed practices of piety, while beautiful gestures, are not what Jesus wants from me.

He desires all of me.  Heart.  Mind.  Soul.  Strength.

Surrendered completely to His will.

He desires me . . .
~
Are there traditions practiced in your church that are of man's making, not God's?

Will you join me in prayer?
Help us, Father, to discern between human traditions and practices and true worship of You.  Let us look to Your beloved Son, Jesus, to guide us and keep us focused on His commandments, His love, His sacrifice, above all else.  Help us to grow in love and grace through Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Readings
Psalms 105:1-22 or 105:23-45
Exodus 24:1-18
Colossians 2:8-23
Matthew 4:12-17  

 

20 comments:

  1. Hi Martha:
    Tradition can be a good thing. The thing is however if people aren't comfortable to break out of their routine they will eventually stagnate. They won't move forward which is what this experience on the physical plane is all about. As I'm fond of saying:
    Life is about moving forward.

    We can't go backward and we can't stay we are. It is an impossibility. We may as well embrace it and not struggle against it, because what happens when we struggle?
    --
    Chris

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    1. Great to see you here as always, Chris!
      I agree - we have to be willing to move forward and to grow in God's grace. Tradition is good as long as it retains its "salt" and is meaningful, pointing us in the right direction.
      Blessings always!

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  2. Good Morning! Traditions traditions. Some are old and comforting like lighting candles when we pray. When I was a child growing up in the Catholic faith, there was something about seeing that little candle glowing, chasing away the darkness, that made me feel like my prayer had captured God's attention.
    There are many traditions woven into all religions. Some are beautiful and some have supplanted true acts of worship.
    Have a gorgeous weekend Martha!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Leah!
      What a wonderful memory you have in lighting the candles, chasing away the darkness, and getting God's attention. This is "tradition" at its very best for it puts our hearts and minds in the right place.
      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too! Can't wait for your book to arrive!
      Blessings always!

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  3. There are some traditions which I like and some which I don't. We change according to the times.

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    1. Hi, Janaki, and thanks for coming by!
      We do change with the times - some go willingly and others, kicking and screaming. While there is comfort in traditions, one should never let it get in the way of true worship.
      Blessings always!

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  4. Hi, Martha! ~

    I love to travel around and meet people in all different kinds of churches, synagogues, temples, zen centers, and every type of place where worshipers gather. I find the ones I get along with best are the ones who are most devoted to their spiritual practice, even if their practice is different from mine. It is the fact that Spirit is their first priority that brings us together. Then I 'steal' the practices from the various congregations that appeal to me and make them my own.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Linda!
      I think it's fantastic that you've visited so many places of worship. And, to truly be able to sense and feel the Spirit working within them is a gift.
      So glad you take the practices that mean the most to you and make them personal in your worship.
      Blessings always!

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  5. I definitely think God desires for our hearts to be set on Him and when we worship for it to be genuine and full of devotion. He does not favor water or hearts that are lukewarm!

    Great post.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!
      Indeed, you are right! He does want us to be totally devoted in our worship.
      Glad you enjoyed the post.
      Blessings always!

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  6. Martha the traditions play an important role too, but we must learn to go beyond them. I love that in the Catholic Church I can go to any part of the world, attend Mass and still feel like 'home'. However, we must experience God through the traditions and go beyond them.

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Corinne!
      That is exactly what my grandmother used to say about the Episcopal Church - she could go to any of them and know exactly what to expect. There is comfort and solace in that.
      But, you are so right, that our relationship with the Lord is the most important thing.
      Blessings always!

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  7. You're right, Martha. God desires our heart most of all. All the external practices and gestures we make should be coming from a sincere heart if they are to be of any worth.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Joyce!
      He does desire our hearts, yes, indeed. As the Psalms say many times, God does not want our "burnt offerings" but our prayers of praise and thanksgiving.
      Blessings to you!

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  8. Thank You Martha for this post. Sometimes traditions stops us from praying, sometimes it takes all people's attention and we forget the essence. I think there shouldn't impose rules on anyone except to love and respect.

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    1. Thank you for stopping in today, Nikky!
      Glad you enjoyed the post.
      Traditions are all well and good but, as you say, if they take our minds off the real focus, which is God, then they become dangerous distractions.
      Blessings to you!

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  9. I loved how you pointed this out fair and square. I think sensible people would 'hear' this.

    Well, we do lament on many traditions that our Church does...but if we look at why we continue to do them then I guess we should know the reason behind them.

    Not everybody studies 'sacred liturgy' nor theology, so we should be open to teach them if they truly wish to learn...

    Perhaps, sometimes, I focus more on our liturgy, sometimes I get miffed even as far as liturgical songs go...

    people should worship with all their hearts and minds to it...if we do not understand the language, then we would really be missing something out...

    Our spiritual guide once said while we prepare liturgies that ,sometimes we're so obsessed to make people pray that we end up pleasing them instead of praying ourselves...

    I pray with you...Lord let us decrease that You may increase. May we focus on solutions...of helping each other grow in love... our reflections are made to evoke something deep within us...purify our intentions that Your love may shine.

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  10. Thanks so much for coming by, Melissa!
    I do hope I was being fair and square. Traditions are great and I love the Catholic and Episcopal liturgies but, as you said here, if that is our focus, i.e. making the people pray to please them, not God, we are doing ourselves a great disservice.
    And, yes, we should not practice traditions blindly, but find out why they are important and why they are implemented in the first place. Once we do that, if our heart is set on Christ, we can worship and celebrate God in the truest and purest of ways.
    Thank you, as always, for sharing in the prayer. May we ever let God increase within us!
    Blessings to you, my dear, and happy weekend! :)

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  11. *raising hand* Catholic! I hear ya! I understand what you're saying. "Sometimes, though, like Pascal says, we've got to go through the motions and eventually our spirits, heads and hearts catch up. Of course, the motions may differ depending on what faith and expression of faith we are practicing--whether a ritual bible study, genuflecting or weekly Sunday service. Thanks for making me think--I like visiting your blog for this reason. :-) I'm glad you found a happy home where you are. I'd caution that any religion or expression can become just that--religious expression instead of a deep spirituality. Then again, who am I to speak on this subject as a soul in a dark night? xoxo

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    1. Thanks so much, Pam, for stopping by today!
      I do like what Pascal has to say - there can be great merit in traditions if they serve to bring us into a deeper, lasting, and meaningful relationship with the Lord. But, when the stand in the way, watch out! :)
      I'm so glad this post made you think about traditions in a different light.
      And, you are so right - we need deep spirituality, not religious expression alone.
      Blessings to you!

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