“They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
Mark 7:7 (NIV)
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England’s overthrow.
By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.
And what shall we do with him?
In 1605 there was a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James 1 and replace him with a Catholic head of state. In the immediate aftermath of the 5th November arrest of Guy Fawkes, caught guarding a cache of explosives placed beneath the House of Lords, James’s Council allowed the public to celebrate the king’s survival with bonfires.
The following January, days before the surviving conspirators were executed, Parliament passed the ‘Observance of 5th November Act’, commonly known as the ‘Thanksgiving Act’. It was proposed by a Puritan Member of Parliament, Edward Montagu, who suggested that the king’s apparent deliverance by divine intervention deserved some measure of official recognition, and kept 5th November free as a day of thanksgiving.
The anniversary of this occasion is celebrated with firework displays, bonfires and then the climax of the evening is the burning of the ‘guy’—a clothed, stuffed, dummy wearing a mask that represents Fawkes himself.
As I was growing up every 5th November we, as a family, enjoyed an evening of baked potatoes, fireworks and reciting the above rhyme that rather bizarrely culminated with a mock execution, which thinking about it now is hardly family entertainment. It never occurred to us that this is a little strange, and we continued the tradition, without question, that had been handed to us.
And surely that happens in churches all the time. We do what we do because we’ve always done it that way and for no other reason. We can develop a fierce loyalty to meaningless traditions. Perhaps it’s because we think they are godly or because we’re just glad that some things stay the same in an ever changing world. Perhaps we may feel that to change something that was done by previous generations in the church means that we are dishonouring them. Perhaps we continue with traditions because we never take time to stop and think about them. Whatever the reason there are two things to remember: Remember to not simply do something because it’s always been that way, and Remember that Christianity is full of new things, e.g. a new creation, new wine, new songs, and a new heaven and new earth!
Father, help me to have the right balance between preserving meaningful traditions, moving on from outmoded ones and embracing new things.
Study by Barry Robinson
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Saturday 11 am
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