Do you like tradition?
Good – you should. Tradition surrounds and grounds us. We can’t live without tradition.
Think about all the traditions you encounter and rely on when you do something simple like drive a car. You implicitly put your trust in the rules and conventions – the rituals – of the road:
- that other cars will obey stop signs and speed limits,
- that they’ll drive on the right side of the road,
- that most people will use turn signals as an “outward act representing an inward decision”.
If you didn’t trust these traditions, you’d be consumed with fear, with self-defensive anxiety and paralyzing ‘what-ifs’. In short, you’d be unable to drive.
Traditions help us live – they give us the ability to do certain tasks on autopilot so we can focus on bigger questions in life (or in the car) – Where are we going? Who’s coming with me? How does this shape my life?
The only problem, however, is that these traditions are dead. They have no life or power in themselves – they can only bracket out fear and free us to get on with more important business.
Sometimes tradition in church is dead, too. Sometimes rituals do nothing more than help us get along with ‘real life” by making us feel safe, comfortable. They make us feel ‘good’.
Tradition in church should be full of creative energy and resurrection life. Rituals that are transformative don’t just bracket out fear; they give us the tools to embrace mystery – to live boldly in the face of death and loss with the hope and power of the risen Christ.
Is your faith full of traditions that run on autopilot so you can get on with the business of your ‘real’ life?