Gen 46:1‐47:31, Matt 15:1‐28, Ps 19:1‐14, Prov 4:14‐19
We’ve Never Done It That Way Before
The seven most deadly words for any congregation are, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Traditions held too tightly can become precarious if we don’t understand their purpose. Translated from the Greek word “paradosis,” tradition means to “give over” or “hand down.” The question therefore is what are we handing down, why are we doing it, and to whom are we giving it over?
For Jews there are 613 commandments. To break one means that all have been broken. While the self-righteous Pharisees derided Jesus for not washing His hands before eating, thus breaking a “commandment,” in doing so they were guilty of an even graver sin. God had told the Jews to honor their father and mother. But the teachers of the law had negated God’s commandment by telling Jews that if they gave money to the temple, they did not have to give money to their parents. Rabbinic ordinances thus became man’s law, taking the place of God’s commandments. The Pharisees and teachers cared for the rules that they had imposed, more than those imposed by the heavenly Ruler.
God-inspired traditions are important, for they bring us into the presence of the Holy. But going through the motions of a ritual or adhering to a tradition with no thought of its origins or purpose, give such traditions no more value than just doing so because, “We’ve never done it that way before.”
The Rev. Danielle Dubois Morris
College Park, FL