Every church has traditions, and it is often harder to get churches to change their traditions than to change their doctrine. Removing the carpet can be more controversial than removing a Person from the Trinity. Just ask an Episcopalian pastor in Savannah.
This pastor told me that a certain Episcopal church had a carpet that created a great deal of static electricity when worshipers walked on it. This created a problem for the chalice-bearer during the Lord’s Supper, because when he would hand the metal chalice to another person in worship, they would get an electrical shock. They needed to do something to get rid of the static before another person touched the chalice.
Fortunately, there was an old radiator near the front of the church to heat the building. So the pastor told him to touch the radiator with the chalice before handing it off.
Soon, touching the radiator became a regular part of the liturgy of this church. Each week, the chalice-bearer would walk to the front, tap the radiator to discharge the static electricity, and then hand over the chalice. Eventually it was done as a ritual, and the reason was forgotten.
After many years had passed, the church replaced their carpet. The new carpet did not create static electricity, so the pastor told the chalice-bearer that he no longer needed to touch the radiator. However, when the chalice-bearer went to hand off the chalice, the other worshiper refused to take it, and kept pointing to the “holy radiator,” waiting for him to touch it!
If our church tradition has a good and godly reason, then we should not change it. But if it’s just a “holy radiator” that is no longer needed, why hold on to it? Jesus said to the religious people of His day, “You ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition” (Mark 7:8, NLT).
Wisdom is in knowing the difference in the radiator and the chalice.
(Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers. Email: email@example.com. Read this column each Friday in the Herald. Visit my blog at www.bobrogers.me.)