Hanging on to Grace

Reflections from your Pastor……

          I grew up, as many did, with numerous traditions, both at home and in my place of worship. To say that those traditions shaped me would be true, spot on, actually.  However, to say that those traditions are who I am, would not be an accurate description of the person I call myself. A tradition is something that is meant to shape or point to something else. For example, the Christmas tree is a tradition that is meant to point to eternal life with a never ending God, the one who brings light to our darkness. It shapes us when we remember what it is for. (not primarily to have a place for presents) I think the danger arises when we hold so tightly to traditions that they become, at least in our minds, the person, place or thing, that they are meant to point to. Traditions over time, have a way of morphing into the focus of that which they were meant to focus on and sometimes even end up being that which is worshipped. The truth of tradition is that it a sign post, something that it supposed to help us in seeing that which is represents, not the focal point.

Jesus is quite aware that the religious leaders of his day have placed so much power and focus on tradition that they basically worship the tradition rather than doing what God calls them to. Instead of having those traditions build up lives and enhance their relationship with God, they have become road blocks to themselves and others.  It’s almost as if the traditions are designed to keep God at arm’s length so that as we live out our religiosity, personal piety and traditions, we can keep God where we want him.  We make our faith about us and what we do, thus controlling outcomes and exulting ourselves over others because of how well we hold to the law and traditions. The fact of the matter is, Jesus came because we cannot save ourselves. No matter how good we are, no matter how righteous, no matter how perfectly we keep the laws; we cannot win salvation for ourselves. We need a savior, we need Jesus. And if tradition ends us being that “thing” that keep us from recognizing God’s incredible grace, then it is a stumbling block and needs to be let go. A time of discerning is needed in the church; what traditions have we so maintained, have we so tightly held a grip on that they have become road blocks to faith, both for ourselves and for others? It is time for some deep looking inward in order that the message of hope that has captured us can be carried outward. It’s all about Jesus. Let this be our “tradition“; hanging on to the grace of God, from which comes the salvation of the world.