Every family has traditions. From foods, games we play, songs we sing, and special foods we eat at the different holidays. Sometimes we hear of something someone else does and make it a new tradition for our family.

In our family my great grandma used to have everyone over for a pancake breakfast and then everyone would gather for steak dinner at another relative’s. The year my uncle was born grandma said it was too long of a day for the baby. So great grandma put the two meals together at her home and every year since 1929 the family has gotten together for a steak and pancake breakfast. The steak is delicious with a little bit of syrup finding its way across the plate and surrounding the bite with a little bit of sweetness. We have friends that thought that sounded so good and not as much to cook so they adopted our tradition.

When I was born my great aunt bought a baptismal gown for me. My brother How do you feel about traditions?was a little older when he was baptized so he wasn’t able to wear it. Then four years later my sister was born and she wore the gown. Since that time it has been worn by every member of the family including a friend’s daughter. On September 4th our granddaughter was baptized and she was the 12th baby to wear my gown. It started out as a gift for me and has become a tradition. I wonder how many more children will be baptized in that beautiful gown.

This is one example where we find Jesus talking about traditions.

Debate Over Tradition

Mark 7:1–23

15 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8     ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,

And honor Me with their lips,

But their heart is far from Me.

9     And in vain they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”

13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”

16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”[1]

The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned about the traditions that had been followed for years. Some of which God put in place to keep the people healthy, like the washing of hands before preparing food.

There are traditions in each of the main stream churches. I believe people get hung up on these traditions and forget that going to church is a time to put everything aside and be in worship with God. Our faith is strengthened when we worship with others and join in lifting our praises up to God.

When a church puts it traditions above those of the other churches I believe they are losing site of the real meaning of worship and faith. No one style or order of worship is better than any other. We don’t have to be in a specifically designed sanctuary, or do our liturgy, hymns and sermons in a specific order. Jesus preached from mountains, and beside the water, He spoke to the people with love and compassion. Teaching them how to praise God and care for each other. He didn’t give them a bulletin with the only order in which a worship service could be done.

Traditions in families and churches are good as long as they don’t exclude others or make their tradition more important than anyone else’s.

Jann Martin

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[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 15:1–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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