Readings for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 7:1-13; Ephesians 5:22-33; Isaiah 29:11-19

” Tradition!” It’s not just a catchy song from Fiddler on the Roof. It’s an important part of our lives at home, out in society, and in the church. Yes, whether it’s the pastor’s robes or the donuts at Bible study, every church – even the “non-traditional ones” – have their traditions. And that’s a fine thing. Traditions are not only human nature, they’re often important and useful ways of bonding different generations together and remembering our place in the larger scope of history.

But with every human tradition comes also the danger that we will elevate it to a status it wasn’t meant to hold, and give it a weight it wasn’t meant to carry. At worst, it can even obscure the commands of God and lead to sinful pride and divisiveness. Jesus speaks to that danger in this week’s Gospel reading (Mark 7). There he quotes from the prophet Isaiah who was dealing with the same problem in his own time, though in a different context: military strategy against the Assyrians (Isaiah 29). In Ephesians, Paul shows how the marriage relationship at its best can be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to his Church (Eph 5).

Think of a church tradition you particularly enjoy. How can you/we honor that tradition without worshipping it?