On my last post, I shared with you a reflection on the differing realities of Grace and Tradition. There is no denying the traditions that become part of our lives over time provide a way to go forward for many people. Without traditions to help us make sense of how to deal with what happens around us and how we should act, .most of us would be lost. There is a lot going on right now which is hard to make sense of.
But traditions often cause us to act in ways that may have been helpful in the past, but are not helpful now. I take for example the controversy over giving bosses the right to fire an unwed female who becomes pregnant. I have seen this happen to many women. They are good people who have made a decision to do this. Who knows, there may be something in their tradition that gives a sense of affirmation to this. But that is not the point.
The point is, for many, tradition says this is wrong and should not be supported. Hence the right to fire single women who are pregnant. That seems to me to fly in the face of grace. We will be talking a lot more about grace — what it is, how it works, and why it HAS to be of God. But for now, it seems to me grace would dictate a different approach to people who live their lives in a less traditional way.
You know, if God treated me the way I sometimes treat God, there would be no hope. But there is. This is what grace is all about.
Grace and tradition are not always the same.
I am struck by the value of tradition and the need to move ahead into the future with a sense of trust and openness. This is especially noticeable in our politics and our Churches. I will say without hesitation that faith as connect with God, is the only way to go forward into a world that is changing very quickly and, in some ways, becoming more dangerous. The quest then for each of us is how and where I find direction; some way to make sense of what is going on and where I and we are headed.
Tradition is the sense of meaning we get from the ways things used to be. Tradition is the way of doing things and seeing things that is handed down over the years and, in some cases, generations. Traditions work for many because they are seen as unchanging. Tradition helps us make sense of change by using standards that worked in the past as we go forward. If it worked back then, it has got to work going forward. That is basically saying that what was must be what is now. I am not sure life works that way. Sometimes looking back while being forced to go forward causes us to trip.
So the question then becomes, how do I make sense of what’s going on; how do I handle the quick moving change. When God entered human existence through Jesus the Christ, a new way of dealing with differences became clear. Let me give you an example.
Lepers in Jesus’s time were traditionally labeled sinners. Lepers used to call out in the streets, “I am a leper. Stay away. Stay away.” And people did. Along comes Jesus (God-come-down). He sees a leper and hears their call to stay away and goes and embraces them. A new way of living and loving. It took grace, the presence of the living God, for Jesus to go against tradition and make a difference in someone else’s life. We will be exploring the implications of Grace and what it all means in this blog.
So let me lay it out for you—for you to ponder.
The ways of tradition and the ways of grace that God in the person of Christ revealed are often, not always, the same. As we shall see later faith and tradition do not always coincide or work in the same direction.
Off for two weeks. See you in August
There are some things that are true for every person. It does not matter if you have faith or not. It does not matter where you choose to put your faith. But faith is something we all have. We just may not call it that. Or we may try to run away from it or hide from it. We may choose to rationalize everything away; which I will tell you does not work. Faith is more than just something those loony tune Christians have. Faith is the need to connect with something higher than we are. I will have more to say in the weeks, months and years to come. Check in next Thursday, The fun is just beginning.
Who am I you ask. I am a Priest in the Episcopal Church who has just retired. I have for a long time wanted to share some thoughts with you but had not had the time. Now I do! I have intuited over the years the reality that faith answers a deep human need: the need for meaning. For me, and I hope to share this with you, faith in God, and for me in the way of God acting through Jesus Christ, has made a huge difference in my life over the years. I will be sharing that with you. We will do some soul searching on various issues in our culture as they come along. You may not like what I say and that’s great. Please share your thoughts with me and those others who read this blog. Hopefully we will get some good conversation going on. That is my goal. Dialogue, reflection, challenge, questions, doubts, disagreements — all these are welcome here.
My plan is to enter a thought weekly on Thursdays.
Here we go.
May God be with you as you join in and with me as I attempt to make some sense.