(This post was originally published on my blog in November 2004)
I bought this book a few years ago, and it was so helpful in understanding how someone from a low church background like myself could embrace much that my tradition had thrown away. If you looking to do more than just plunder church tradition for things to copy, and want to reflect on the nature and purpose of tradition this is a great book to read.
A few thoughts I have about tradition, now that our church has many of it's own, and we use liturgy, creed, confessions, church calendar in old and new ways, as well as many of the low church forms of church that our part of our heritage (and let's no kid ourselves and think that any of us a post-tradition, we all have them).
1. So often we play with these traditions picking the ones that are immediate and most accessable. I am sure we are missing out on much of these traditions by just taking the easy bits we like. 2. We get people who have tried something once on a retreat to teach us how to use liturgy, when maybe we should be getting people whose life is this, and history to teach us (to avoid more of number 1!) 3. We must not make the same mistake an throw off all our traditions, just as the low church forms threw of everything. By this I mean I hear of churches abandoning their evangelical charistmatic worship experiences wholesale to embrace a completely new way of worshipping, seeing their old way as invalid. Sounds like the same mistake we made when we abandoned much of the church traditions in the first place. 4. If we don't take these cautions we are on a never ending cycle of re-inventions, superficiallity, and of being faddish, and missing out on the real value of tradition. 5. I suspect the real value of traditon is not to be 'cool', 'relevant', but to anchor us to something that confronts our consumerism (as much as I am refreshed by these traditions that are new to me).
So for our church, as we try to retell the christian story to a church full of new christians, we reach back through church history and find the church calendar a great wat to help our people pick up the outline of the life of christ and the early church. As we try to affirm our faith in a pluralistic culture, we use creeds and confessions, to remind ourselves that our faith is not 5 years old in a school hall. We remember all saints day to connect to the church Catholic.
Present And as we move forward we also hold onto the tradtions we already have. We are a Vineyard church, we have a heritage that we dwell in and don't abandon, we don't re-invent ourselves into oblivion from that identity. We tell the stories and use the forms of our tradtion we inherited and experienced directly.
Future We look to the future for new tradtions, new forms, new ecclesiologies, and embrace the value in them.