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by Alan Smith
The story is an old one. Its veracity is not easily checked, but its point is still powerful:
It is said that, years ago in Russia, a czar came upon a lonely sentry standing at attention in a secluded corner of the palace garden. What are you guarding? asked the czar. I dont know. The captain ordered me to this post, the sentry replied.
Even in our congregations we all have traditions, things that we have done the same way for decades. However, there are two possible problems with traditions.
First of all, it is possible to do something a certain way for so long that we put our tradition on a level with Gods law (a problem the Pharisees had).
And the second, a danger inherent in tradition itself, is that like the sentry, we may do things without thinking about WHY we do them. There may have been good reason at one time, but if we are unaware of the reason, we are left with a ritual of going through the motions devoid of any significant meaning.
Jesus chided his contemporaries:
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do. [Jesus] said to them, All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mark 7:8-9)
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