Originally scheduled for July 8
The reader will pardon the story in the first
person. Please be assured; this really did happen to your author,
it's not just a "preacher story."
When I was 10 years old my father, a career
soldier, was transferred to a new post — a proving ground. This is a
place where the Army test fires cannon, tank guns, mortars, and
conducts all sorts of highly destructive tests. Shortly after we
arrived, my family was obliged to attend a training session.
The instructor began by telling us that the
post had a long-standing tradition which was part of this training
session. He began by taking us to one end of the parade ground and
placing there a can of explosive. As I recall, it weighed about 5
pounds; it was not very big. We then marched the length of the
parade ground — about 300 yards — in a hot Midwest summer. When we
reach the other end of the parade ground our instructor set off the
Please, forget everything you have learned
about explosives in Hollywood movies. This small can of explosive
went off with a tremendous roar and a shockwave which almost knocked
us over. All of my curiosity evaporated with the shockwave. I had
absolutely no interest in taking apart anything that remotely
resembled a military explosive. Our instructor went on to explain
that the proving ground contained many examples of unexploded
ordnance – all of which should be left strictly alone.
As I mentioned, this was considered a
traditional introduction to unexploded ordnance. Why do we do things
in a traditional way?
Tradition works. That small can of
explosive made the point much more clearly than any number of
charts, graphs or modern audiovisual aides could possibly do. They
used this method because it worked.
We also use tradition because
practice makes perfect. This demonstration was repeated every time a
new family joined the post. They had it down to a tradition; they
practiced it well.
Like all military personnel, our
instructor would eventually be transferred off the post. By doing
things in a traditional way, he was able to pass on to the next
instructor that which worked well. We do the same; when we have
something working well we pass it on to the next generation via
Communion benefits from the same process of
tradition. We keep doing it because it works; the grace of God does
not grow stale with age. It is eternal, and things eternal are often
best set in tradition.
Tradition is also a way of making practice make
perfect. What is it that we practice at communion?
We practice confession and repentance, for at communion a man
is to examine himself before partaking.
And of all the things we do, is this not one of the most
important to pass on to the next generation?
Communion is a tradition as well as a
commandment, handed down to you from the time of the Apostles.
Keep the faith – and pass it along.