Links Daily Devotional

Links Daily Devotional editor Jeff Hopper delivers insight into reviving the value of traditions in the practice of our faith.

Living Traditions

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, NIV)

So the question of the week may be this: Is the Masters really “a tradition unlike any other”?

The tournament has been around for a long time, no doubt. We’ve become familiar with its trees, its cabins, its water, its winds. We know its winners and their storied rushes to victory, not to mention its most pained losers. We realize how bad we’d look in a green jacket, and yet we covet one all the same.

And yet, I would suggest that the Masters is not a tradition unlike any other. The reason? It gets better every year.

The normal course of traditions is that they die, often by tedious progression. The elements of their enactment become predictable, and in their predictably, lifeless.

Sometimes this is a good thing. It is not only a truism that traditions go on for tradition’s sake. It’s true, actually. So plenty of traditions need to die, to be replaced with celebrations more vibrant and more meaningful.

But we must be careful when we speak of biblical traditions ordained by God. This includes—also with significant import in the weeks just ahead—what has often been called “the Lord’s Supper” (though your church may commonly use a different name for the same thing). It is the practice of remembering the physical death of Jesus, his body broken and his blood shed in the ultimate act of laying down his life for his friends.

What is this tradition like for you? Like many things that happen in a regular church service, it stands a real chance of falling into rote practice and losing its effect on your heart and mind. And when we do take the time to step back from the motions and recall the meaning, we recognize immediately how troubling our mindlessness is—because our soul knows the fullness of just what it is we are remembering.

Here’s a simple challenge during the Easter season ahead (and the Passover season for our many believing Jewish friends): Stay awake! That is, make every effort to have your spiritual attentions and affections on full alert. The practices may be the same as they have always been, but your awareness of their meaning can, in God’s grace, be greater than it has ever been.

If we commune in order to remember, let those memories be grand. But also let them be living, for the purposes of Jesus’ death and God’s salvation are still in effect. They have made his all those who have called on his name, from the days of the ancients to the hours of our own repentance.

Jeff Hopper
April 7, 2014
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