Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Traditions and the State of My Heart Today

A tradition is a belief, custom, story, or practice handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth or demonstration. So, when you hear the word tradition what thoughts come to mind? Do you think of regular activities that enrich your life, annual rituals that your family performs, perhaps at Thanksgiving or Christmas? Do you think of extended family gatherings, perhaps the reading of a special biblical story, watching the Macy’s Day parade, or a football game…or several of them. Or when you think of the word tradition, do you have negative thoughts that might include strict guidelines that limit your creativity( we have always done it this way)…or dead routines that have no meaning to you whatsoever. I love the email I got once about a young bride cooking a ham…..” A young woman was preparing a ham dinner. After she cut off the end of the ham, she placed it in a pan for baking. Her friend asked her, "Why did you cut off the end of the ham?" And she replied, "I really don't know, but my mother always did, so I thought you were supposed to." Later, when talking to her mother, she asked her why she cut off the end of the ham before baking it, and her mother replied, "I really don't know, but that's the way my mom always did it." A few weeks later, while visiting her grandmother, the young woman asked, "Grandma, why is it that you cut off the end of a ham before you bake it?" Her grandmother replied, "Well, dear, otherwise it would never fit in my baking pan." The tradition continued….but the reasoning was flawed. I love the play, Fiddler on the Roof. I remember the opening scene: there is the village and you see a fiddler on the roof and Tevye says: "A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? but in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay here if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevaka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? I can give you that answer in a mere word--TRADITION--Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything---how to eat, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our head covered and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I'll tell you---I don't know.” My family…just like yours has traditions. We always have Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Shirley’s (and our mom’s do the food)….we have our Christmas gathering at either Amanda’s or my house…and the we do the cooking. We have done this for years. My mom’s family used to always have a big reunion on Father’s Day Saturday…why???....well it was my grandfather and his twin brother Gurry’s birthday. Both of them are dead now…but the tradition continued until there were very few of their generation left. So you are asking yourself by now…where is she going with this…..well…Frank preached from Mark 7:1-24 today. In his sermon he showed an angry Jesus, he is condemning the scribes and Pharisees, not for honoring a tradition, but for placing their traditions above the commands of God. The Pharisees accuse the disciples of violating their sacred traditions. Jesus responds in three ways, addressing three questions to them that are also pertinent to us still today. Where is my heart? What am I obeying from the heart? Is my heart prepared to approach God? You know you can't have a true worship experience if your heart is not in it, you will simply go through the motions of worship. Just what am I obeying from the heart? How often do I judge others because they don't act like I expect them to act, or they don't dress like I think they should, or don't sing the songs I like to sing -- even within the church? How many times have I found myself looking down on others because they were not doing things the way "they've always been done?” Hummm…this sermon was a rude wake up call for me, telling me to get my heart right and do it now...when I think of the children's prayer,:...if I should die before I wake" I get nervous? Does that statement bother me? Well, today when I examined my heart in my pew at Waverly UMC I am ashamed to say I saw some evidences of the big bad five….anger, greed, envy, pride, or lust? So I want to ask you right now…”What is the state of your heart?” I made a conscious decision today not to let the traditions of man bind my heart! Oh I will still be at Thanksgiving dinner, and do Christmas, attend reunions...but I will definitely be doing them with a whole different outlook. I don't want to just be a religious person...I want to be a Christian....You know...Christ Like. God Bless You All Today...and get rid of those Shackles so you can dance!

1 comment:

Mandy said...

one of my mom's fav movies is Fiddler on the Roof. LOVE the song Shackles by Mary Mary. i'm sure kat might have mentioned that our church is scrutinizing worship and how to make sure it is true and not simply a routine or tradition. sounds like you are doing the same. thanks for this post!