Tag Archives: tradition


Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. (Acts 6:8-15, 7:54-60, NRSV)

“This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” He is going to change our traditions!

We have to do it this way because this is the way we have always done it and that is how I learned it.

How many times have we heard that?

Traditions are a wonderful part of our lives and give us a rich history to hold on to. But doing things one way because that is how we have always done them does not always make sense. We are living growing beings. And doing things the same way all the time can border on being traditional, not upholding a tradition. If we hold the tradition we will allow things to grow and change as it needs to, but insisting things stay the same is putting the tradition as our god and is being traditional.

Let God have the space in your life to move and grow and shape you into the person He needs for you to be.


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See the heart…

170319So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.  Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” (John 4:5-42, NRSV)

We get so hung up on what we have been taught about the things we believe over actually listening to what God is telling us and showing us.

This woman thought and had been taught that all Jews didn’t like her because she was a Samaritan.  But Samaritans didn’t like her either because of her reputation. She had 5 husbands and was living with a man. Now she needed a man in that time because she couldn’t provide for herself. And she may have had 5 husbands because she burnt toast, which is a valid reason for divorce.

What is this story actually telling us?

I love this story because it shows that Jesus looks at the heart and loves all people the same regardless of what society says. He saw the heart of this woman who couldn’t come to the well in the cool of the morning but had to come at the hottest part fo the day to avoid ridicule.

Jesus loves us as we are.

And that is how He wants us to love those around us.


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Who is fed first?

150906 Who is fed firstFrom there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (Mark 7:24-37, NRSV)

I have always been intrigued by this passage. Jesus calling someone a dog because of their origin. Sounds racist. And that is a really touchy subject now…

But as one of my friends on Facebook said, “If you are preaching Jesus as a racist this Sunday, I’m not even sure what to say to you, except, I hope I’m not in your pew.”

And this story is not about Jesus being a racist, it is about a big table in a big house where everyone can come and eat.

What are the rituals you remember from eating special meals, or everyday meals?

Who prays?

What prayer is said?

Does someone always get a plate first?

Do people always sit in the same place?

What happens when someone new joins the meal?

There are so many things around meals that we take for granted until the boat, or table is rocked.

For instance I have 2 cats, ones name is Kata and he is an orange tabby, and then there is Katy a grey princess. When we feed the cats, whoever feeds them, if both of them are in the room, Katy will back away and let Kata eat first, but when the water is put down, Katy gets that first. Which is very interesting, because if there is an alpha, it is Katy. But she does not eat first. Why? Because that is how it is…

And to Jews in Jesus day Syrophoenicians were dogs. But Jesus did not say this because he believed it, maybe it was a test, I don’t know.

But once her faith was made known, He made known she was welcome.

My friend on Facebook went on to say, “I think we read it as if we’re not the ones getting the crumbs, but were all gentiles. So, I think that changes how you read it. It’s not a story of xenophobia, but a story of the grafting of the gentiles. Jesus came for the Jews first, then Gentiles.”

You see Jesus came to set the house of Israel straight. To teach them how to live the life God had called them to, but then He was also to feed the Gentiles, the rest of the people, and that is where we fit. We are Gentiles, and therefore dogs. But we get the scraps, the crumbs from the table and there is enough Grace in the crumbs to save a sinner like me.

So go into the world with the many blessings God has given you not to hoard them, but to share them, because God will give you more crumbs!


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don’t be traditional!

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.’ (Matthew 9:14-17, NRSV)

I will admit this passage has always been a little strange to me.

You see I don’t make wine so I do not know the particulars of wine and how it ferments.

I do sew but have never sewn a new piece of fabric onto an old garment. However the new cloth would have to give more and wouldn’t so the garment could be worse off than if it had a hole…

But what is Jesus telling us here. This morning as I prayed and read this text, I was hit with the notion:

We can not put what God is doing into the traditional understanding we carry forward.

Now before you get worried I want to throw the baby out with the bath water let’s look at this…

You have to understand what I mean by tradition and traditional.

One of these words is a good word and the other is a word that you shouldn’t say in polite company!

Tradition is the basis of our faith. Our understanding of who we are and where came from. Be base things in our tradition and they keep us grounded to God and our relationship with Him.

Traditional is doing things the way we have always done them, because that is how it is done.

Do you see the difference?

If you are traditional you will not try something new because what we have always done has always worked before and there is no need to do something new!

But isn’t God always trying something new to reach the ones He loves, while maintaining what is important in the relationship with His church?

Do not get stuck in a box and try to make God fit where He always has, because that just isn’t going to work!

Allow God to do what He will to keep the relationship with you alive, and to reach the lost…


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A new song…

Psalm 98 starts “O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things.” Sing to the Lord a new song. New is a scary word for us in the church… Most of us like the tried and true methods of doing things, and the songs from our youth. It is comfortable, like that old pair of jeans that is broken in just right, and fits us in all the right places. New jeans don’t snug with us, or fit quite right yet, they have not been broken in yet, and so they rub us wrong sometimes. Like a new pair of shoes that has the possibility of giving you a blister…

So why does the psalmist say sing a new song, when there is probably a song that would work just as well that is well known to us? Because God is not stale and stuck in the past. He remembers the past, and the promises He has made to His people, but He is not stuck there like we sometimes get. He wants us to stretch out and do things differently. Because sometimes the old comfortable stuff to us just doesn’t connect with those who are looking, and we can not expect them to become like us before they come, because God does not expect us to change before we come to Him, He excepts us as we are…

I can hear some of you saying though what about tradition. And tradition is good, if it is tradition and not traditional… explanation – tradition is that on which and in which we are grounded. It is the basis for our understanding. Traditional is doing something because that is the way we have always done it. If you ever hear, “we haven’t done it that way before…” maybe it is time to think about tradition vs. traditional. Be grounded in the past and remember it, but be like God and looking for the new way to sing and praise and help people understand how much God loves them.

So sing to the Lord a new song!


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