Yesterday (or the weeks prior to it), all Americans had the opportunity to participate in a great tradition…voting. Regardless of whether your candidates won or lost, there is something great in this tradition. People choosing their leaders is a great gift, and should not be squandered.
As Halloween and All Saints’ Day have passed, so to have the traditions that go with them. Next in our list of traditions are Thanksgiving (for Americans; for Canadians, it has passed), Advent, Christmas, and New Year.
Many of the rules and traditions of the Jews were based upon the lunar calendar, or as observations of past significant events. Their traditions were formational. In other words, part of what made a person grow into being a Jew were the traditions. In many respects, despite the diaspora of the Jews, that is still the case around the world.
The US acted, for a time, as if if were of a tradition. However, in the last few decades, the US has discovered that its identity and traditions are no longer what they were. Many are upset about this, and are grieving and angry.
On the other hand, this is also the opportunity to develop new traditions and a new identity forged through the mutual pain of discontent, isolation, anger, and even despair. It doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. It hasn’t been, and probably won’t be for a while.
For many, some “great” US traditions felt more like oppression and suppression. The traditions also felt disparaging. To others they were/are part of a past that they couldn’t support.
At the time of Jesus, many Jews felt that they could not live under the traditions imposed by their leaders. Jesus indeed called the leaders out on this. The leaders had had a tradition passed down by Moses. In an attempt to “perfect” it, they made it worse. They made it unlivable.
As we move forward (for that is the only direction we can go), the church has a huge opportunity to help shape the new traditions that are to be formed. Of course, many of our own traditions will have to be challenged, and that will be painful and hard.
Lord, help us to be healers and peacemakers. Help us to be bearers of peace that passes all understanding. Amen.