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Friday, July 4, 2014

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 6:20–23
My child, keep your father’s commandment,
     and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them upon your heart always;
     tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
     when you lie down, they will watch over you;
     and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
     and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life. (NRSV)

In this era of abundant innovation that we live in, it could be argued that tradition has become somewhat of an embarrassment—an antiquated relic you’d prefer to leave in the safe recesses of your attic rather than prominently on display. For many people, this proverb about fastening tradition around their neck would be more akin to wearing a millstone rather than a lamp for their feet. We want the new, the novel, the unique, and the creative.

Yet this proverb (which, it should be noted, is an amalgam of two important Jewish traditions: Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 6:7–9) is one that our denomination has heeded over the years through our form of government. When generations of Presbyterians gather as elders of the church, there is a sense in which we are not bound by Reformed tradition but are instead boldly and creatively living out that tradition as the church seeks to be a witness to God’s light in this world. Far from being a millstone, our shared tradition inspires us to be the church reformed and always reforming—a church that brings the best parts of our past into conversation with the great potential of the future.

This is not just a call for the church; it is also a call for our lives as well. In my house growing up, there was a picture on the wall that read “There are two gifts we can give our children—one is roots, and the other is wings.” May we each remember the roots of what has been handed down to us as we boldly fly into our future.

God of my past, present, and future, help me to wear your commandments on my heart. May they illumine my path and guide my steps. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Minister for Children and Families

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