On Saturday I am taking 24 youth and 4 other adults to Tennessee to serve at Mountain T.O.P. Participating with this camp is a St. Paul's tradition and I am excited to go. I always think great relationships are formed on trips like these.
Since we will be working, I decided I wanted to bring some of my own tools. Anyone who works with their hands regularly understands the relationships formed with an inanimate object...a tool. It can be a wrench, a certain pair of pliers or a favorite screwdriver. We like to have our own tools with us when we know we will be doing alot of work. I am the same way. So I packed tools. Then I packed even more tools. I even packed more after that.
Three Toolboxes in all.
Funny thing is....I didn't grow up working with my hands. It was a fascination of early adulthood. I still can't do some things (I am a horrible mechanic), but I am decent at others. I would never consider myself a craftsman...but I am starting to get handy.
Both of my grandfathers were craftsmen, giants in their trade. It could be a diesel engine or a bread machine...they could handle it. When both of them passed and the family was starting to divide things up, determine what would be thrown away and what should be kept, I instantly started talking about tools. It was my connection to them, the piece of my life discovered when I became an adult. My inheritance was rusty, well work and mostly purchased at SEARS.
One of the toolboxes packed was my grandfather Brooks' old craftsman. It hold various small things and my electrical tools. It just felt right to bring it on this trip. Even though we never worked on anything together...I feel like it connects me to him and he would have enjoyed this trip.
In the same way, faith connects us to those who have passed us. In worship and our participation in the sacraments we do the same things, use the same items and worship the same God with those we might never have encountered. Faith is bigger than us. Bigger than the buildings and communities we might be a part of. This thing we call Christianity has deep roots. Some of them we might never have heard of. Many of them might be influencing us without our knowledge.
But we are part of that great company of hosts. Part of the family of God, the line of redemption connected by Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this age of fast moving expressions of faith, we need to advocate for our inheritance. We need to be thinking how that which has been passed down is still totally relevant and worthy. In many ways it is the right tool for the job. Just like my 40yr old bench grinder still works great, think of the hymns or readings that can be an amazing part of your worship this weekend.
Historic faith isn't about denying any good can come from new things.
It focuses on how the Great Tradition of Faith teaches us the spirit of what is truly worthwhile. It becomes a discerning agent. When things are cheap we know so but when something new looks transformative we can recognize it. While my grandfathers never knew the wonders of an oscilliating cutting tool, I bet they would have jumped on it. It might have been brand new, but it would get the job done.
When in doubt...what consistently always does the job is the best tool for the job. In many different scenarios.