Traditionalism (3)

Tradition hands on from one generation to another those things found useful. Tradition doesn’t attempt to suppress new experience or insight. Tradition is a treasury of experience from which we may draw for our benefit. Traditionalism, on the other hand, is rigid and exclusive, insisting on conformity even when no one any longer remembers what value a practice is meant to represent. Tradition is a gift of earlier generations.  Traditionalism is narrow and oppressive—not a gift, but an imposition. People’s negative associations with tradition may be based on their revulsion against traditionalism. Traditionalism gives tradition a bad name–unfairly, and unfortunately. Scorn for traditionalism may encourage indifference to precious things we might learn to value from tradition.

—Ronald P. Byars, Christian Worship: Glorifying and Enjoying God, p. 20

Traditionalism (2)

The Church on the whole has been tenaciously conservative through the ages, rightly stressing the eternal and immutable Gospel over against the passing fashions of men.  But the quality of eternity and immutability has often been transferred from the Gospel itself to the forms in which it is expressed and modes of worship have drawn to themselves sacrosanctity which, although valuable and understandable, is hardly to be justified.

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):67

 

Eastertide

The Great 50 Days [after Easter] (originally called the Pentecost) were at first far more important than the 40 days of Lent. It is perplexing why modern Christians concentrate on Lent, the season of sorrow, rather than on Easter, the season of joy. Augustine tells us, “These days after the Lord’s resurrection form a period, not of labor, but of peace and joy. That is why there is no fasting, and we pray standing, which is a sign of resurrection. This practice is observed at the altar on all Sundays, and the Alleluia is sung, to indicate that our future occupation is to be no other than the praise of God.”

—James F. White, Introduction To Christian Worship, 61-62

Resurrection (5)

[Lewis had just addressed his correspondent’s concern for the troubles of the world] Tomorrow [Easter] we shall celebrate the glorious Resurrection of Christ. I shall be remembering you in the Holy Communion. Away with tears and fears and troubles! United in wedlock with the eternal Godhead Itself, our nature ascends into the Heaven of Heaven. So it would be impious to call ourselves “miserable.”  On the contrary, Man is a creature whom the Angels—were they capable of envy—would envy.  Let us lift up our hearts! 

—C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II, Letter of March 27, 1948

Resurrection (4)

He who hung the earth is hanging.
He who fixed the heavens in place has been fixed in place.
He who laid the foundations of the universe has been laid on a tree.
The master has been profaned.
God has been murdered…

But He rose up from the dead
and mounted up to the heights of heaven.
When the Lord hath clothed Himself with humanity,
and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer,
and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned,
and had been judged for the sake of the condemned,
and had been buried for the sake of the one who had been buried,
He rose up from the dead,
and cried with a loud voice,
“Who is it that contends with me?
Let him stand in opposition to me.
I set the condemned man free;
I gave the dead man life;
I raised up one who had been entombed.
Who is my opponent?
I am the Christ
I am the one who destroyed death,
and triumphed over the enemy,
and trampled Hades underfoot,
and bound the strong one,
and carried off humanity
to the heights of heaven.”
“It is I,” says the Christ.

—Melito of Sardis (ca. A.D. 195), Easter sermon

Resurrection (3)

Easter preceded by Lent is the primary annual cycle of the calendar; secondary to it is Christmas preceded by Advent. This is true both theologically and historically. It is the resurrection that interprets the birth of Jesus. Apart from the resurrection, Jesus has no more claim upon us than Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Anwar Sadat: He was simply one among many good leaders who managed to meet an unjust death. This theological assertion is buttressed by historical facts: (1) What is presumably the oldest of the four Gospels pays no attention whatever to the birth of Jesus, beginning instead with the account of His baptism; and Paul makes only passing references to Jesus’ birth (as in Galatians 4:4 and Philippians 2:7). Only later did Matthew and Luke attach enough importance to the nativity to comment upon it extensively. (2) Even more significant: Although the resurrection was observed liturgically in the church from its very inception, the earliest recorded liturgical observance of Christmas Day falls well into the fourth century.

—Laurence Hull Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 49-50