Faith Matters

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By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE

 On Tradition

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!– Deuteronomy 6:5 (The Message)

And Jesus added this… “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  – Leviticus 19:18

First off… a blessed Springtime to all!  The ‘greening’ of the world around us is the reminder we are all wonderfully and mysteriously connected with life’s cycles and seasons… so I pray that this new time of the year bring some joy and hope to each of you…

As you will recall… my tribe within all of Christianity is the Lutherans.  We’ve been around over 500 years yet boldly claim we have roots back to St. Peter and the earliest of Christian teachings.  We’re a stubborn bunch.  We don’t give up easily… we like to sing and we’re not very quick to say, I’m sorry… unless you do first.  We have a multitude of traditions… mostly for the good…

One of them is drinking coffee.  Of course, this is not unique to Lutherans, but some say you can’t be Lutheran if you don’t drink the stuff.  In some parts of the country… like in the Dakotas… it is said that if you put cream or sugar in your coffee the pastor could refuse to give you the Lord’s Supper.  Black coffee only for Lutherans there, I hear.  So, I created a coffee mug.  It reads, “Martin Luther never drank a cup of coffee…” which is true and serves to de-bunk the myth that one cannot be Lutheran unless a consumer of the dark roasted bean.  You see, coffee was not even present in Germany during Luther’s life arriving in the ports of Germany more than 100 years after Luther’s death.  Traditions are tricky… but they help point us to our roots… and deep roots help us stand firm!

For example, when a young Jewish boy gathers in the synagogue to experience his Bar-Mitzvah, a very special tradition takes place.  No words are spoken… just action couched in love and history… just movement from one place to the next linking the generations of the family.

The Rabbi goes to the Mezuzah and removes the Torah taking it to the grandfather of the boy whose special day has arrived.  The Torah scrolls are gently handed over to him as he kisses the Word from God… taking the same scroll handing it to his son, the father of the one whose special day has arrived.  And in turn, the father now walks over to the young man, kisses the Torah scroll and lays it in the lap of his son.  No words spoken but a clear message that the story of God is handed down from one generation to the next.  THIS is tradition!

But as a communal people we all have lots of traditions… some helpful… some not so much…

I know one family who always has pizza for their Friday night meal.  I know a woman who visits her husband’s grave only on his birthday and their wedding anniversary.  One family places a star on the Christmas tree… another… an angel… and a baptismal gown is passed down with each new family birth…  along with special recipes being gifted from one generation to the next securing the quality control of the food shared at family gatherings.  And then Hank Williams, Jr. cautioned us all that family traditions can be oh so dangerous…

But what about God?  Does God have any traditions?  Sure… to keep reminding us to love our neighbor… by loving ourselves by loving God with all we got… every day… through all life’s seasons generation after generation after…  

The Rev.   Dr.   Brian   K.   Gigee   is   a   long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches over the last four decades in Texas and Louisiana.  Read more following Brian’s blogmurmuringsat https://briangigee.wordpress.com/.   Send comments and/or questions to [email protected].

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