Los Alamos Church of Christ
If stained glass is meaningful to you then you may have a traditionalist temperament.
--Traditionalists connect to the Father through symbol. Not so much the beauty, but the imbedded meanings move them to create a space of worship.
--Traditionalists enjoy the repetition of liturgies. Historical words which have been repeated over the years bring up feelings of connections to the LORD.
--Traditionalists understand their lives as the image of God. They know they are the Tzelem Elohim, reflecting meaning to this world and back into the heavens.
This morning, I want to make it practical. This morning, I want to make some suggestions about how to find the sweet spots of worship in the traditionalist temperament… on a personal level. I want to offer some help in how we connect with the traditionalist temperament one-on-one. We will begin with Jesus and then move to the upsides of the Traditionalist temperament. After upsides, we will think about some of misunderstandings and the dangers traditionalism. Each temperament has upsides and downsides. Let’s bring in home…
Let’s look at Jesus for the traditionalist temperament…
ESV Luke 4:16-21 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
--This is his hometown. Every Saturday for all of his life he participated in the ritual of the synagogue. Jesus knew everyone in the room. They knew him.
--One of the rituals was to read from Scripture each week. Jesus took the scroll of Isaiah from the attendant.
--Jesus reminded them of a favorite reading from Isaiah…
--The Symbolism of Isaiah was no longer symbolism but reality… Jesus announced to his homefolks that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him to proclaim the year of the Lord’s Favor!
Jesus was a Traditionalist.
Let’s first look at what Traditionalists bring to the table.
Traditionalists bring to the table…
1) Symbols help us remember. Symbols can help us overcome one of the great difficulties of the Christian life; the problem of poor memories. I have great intentions, but I often forget. I want to pray, and read scripture, and do good works, read intellectual books, take a hike… symbols placed in the right place can bring us from the busy world back to the real world. Symbols help us remember.
2) Symbols move us toward adoration. We serve an awesome God. We serve a holy God. Sometimes, we may become to causal in our approach to God. God is like a buddy we can text whenever. We may be flippant in our attitudes toward God. Symbols, ritual, liturgy can help us to adore the LORD of the universe. Our God is a consuming fire, not a superficial acquaintance. The attention to details in symbols, move us to adoration.
3) Symbols give us belonging. The symbols of ritual and holidays and observances give meaning to our everyday lives. If every day were the same; if there were no holy days like Sunday; no Christmas, no Easter, no birthdays, no Saturday mornings, no family meals, no symbol… we would never feel the connections of relationships. Conversely, it is saying a prayer together of supper, bedtime routines, a house that is home, Sunday going to church, family circles after baptisms… it is our symbols of ritual that give us connections to each other. Symbols give us belonging.
4) Symbols give us powerful words.
“The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want”
“The one in me is great than the one in the world”
“Even though I walk through the valley of death”
“Our Father who art in heaven”
“Love on another”
“Lord, come quickly”
“Praise Him in the storm”
When we grow up in an environment of repeated, powerful words… We can live in hope. Words become symbols of faith. Words give us faith in crisis. Words move us to action when we lag. Words give us power to move in the world.
These are amazing gifts that the Traditionalists bring to the table.
Here are some suggestions about using these gifts…
1) Carry a symbol. If we have a hard time remembering to connect in the sweet spots of worship throughout the day… carry something in your pocket. Wear a piece of jewelry, not for decoration, but for remembrance. Have Siri remind you.
2) Create rituals. For yourself or your family do certain things on certain days. Holidays, Sunday mornings, bedtime, in the morning, at meals… Create simple repetitive rituals. We do this instinctively. A kiss when you leave the house. A goodnight at bedtime. Birthday cakes. Be intentional about creating rituals.
3) Use Liturgical Prayers. There are lots of written prayers around. A little search on the internet and bam you can have some awesome prayers. Here are two I found. One morning, one evening… Check handouts…
A Morning Prayer
As I wake this morning…
I praise you God because you are my creator and my savior.
I worship you because you are the sustainer of the universe.
I will be blessed today because I love you.
I will listen to you.
I will obey you.
I will forgive because I have been forgiven.
I will love because I have been loved.
I will not listen to any negative talk.
I will fill by mind with your word.
I will build up and not tear down.
I will honor you in my speech and in my actions.
I will learn your ways.
I will let go of hurt and wrongs done to me.
I will defy Satan.
I have eternal life because I know you and I will live in that blessing. Amen.
An Evening Prayer
Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as daylight fades, with the brightness of these candles; and we implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so you would shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Grant us, Lord, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in us and shed its light on those around us, and that by its brightness we may have a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.
O Lord God Almighty, as you have taught us to call the evening, the morning, and the noonday one day; and have made the sun to know it’s going down: Dispel the darkness of our hearts, that by your brightness we may know you to be the true God and eternal light, living and reigning for ever and ever. Amen.
1. Liturgical prayer helps us articulate the yearnings of the heart.
2. Liturgical prayer helps us unite with the “communion of saints.”
3. Liturgical prayer helps us stand against the temptation to be entertaining.
4. Liturgical prayer helps us resist the temptation to selfish prayer.
5. Liturgical prayer helps us to avoid the familiarity of an awesome creator.
Challenge for the week… say these two prayers. Take home these prayers or at 5:00am I will send them to you if you are on the connections email list.
4) Be Aware of the symbols around you. Intentionally go to places where symbols are powerful.
Let’s move to some of the dangers with in the Traditionalist temperament.
1) Symbols can become superstition. It is not a big step from the symbol representing something to the symbol itself carrying power. Symbols can become talismans which bring good luck, or prevent bad things from happening or ward off evil. Symbols are not the power. Symbols connect us to the power but should not be thought of as having power. That borders on idolatry. Symbols are not good luck. They are pointers.
2) Traditionalists tend to elevate of people. I’m not sure why this is true, but it appears the more symbolic an organization is, the more they tend to elevate people into superior positions. Secret societies with all their symbolism often have high poppas… Clergy and laity with all its tapestry can lead to people becoming intercessory for others. This is not a new covenant concept. There can be problems with this for traditionalists.
ESV Matthew 23:9-12 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
3) Ritual without heart is meaningless.
ESV Micah 6:6-8 "With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
To go through the motions without it connecting to sweet spots is not true connection.
4) The show becomes it.
ESV Matthew 23:26-28 “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
5) Traditionalist can devalue other temperaments.
ESV Romans 14:5-8 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
This is a principle applicable to all temperaments. We allow other’s to connect in the way they are wired.
Let’s do our other two rituals… the Shema and the Temperament liturgy…
ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
April 10, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ