Lenten Preaching Series: A Framework for Freedom
SSJE Rule of Life, Chapter 3: “Our Founders and the Grace of Tradition”
Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living within you (2 Timothy 1:14)
In the center of London, just off the Strand, lie the ancient Inns of Court where English lawyers or barristers live and work. One of the Inns of Court is called the Middle Temple and one Christmas, centuries ago, Queen Elizabeth I presented the barristers with a Christmas pudding “made with our royal hands.” Because this pudding had actually touched the royal hands, they decided to save a bit of it and add it to the mixture for the next year’s pudding. Then, a spoonful of that pudding was saved for the following year. And so it has gone on through the centuries until today. A sort of culinary apostolic succession!
This evening’s sermon, in our Lenten preaching series, takes its title from Chapter Three of our Rule: “Our Founders and the Grace of Tradition.” Tradition – from the Latin verb tradere – means literally to hand on, from one person to another, from one generation to another.
That story of the Christmas pudding is probably a source of fun to those lawyers today, but it says something of how important tradition is in our lives. It gives us our roots and it helps us establish our identity. We love to touch, to hold, to see, to feel, things from our past. There’s a church near here where, on the table in the sacristy, there is a chunk of creamy stone. I picked it up, and a label on the back said “a piece of Canterbury Cathedral!” I don’t know who managed to dig it out of the wall, but it was brought back 80 years ago to this country as a kind of relic – a physical, tactile contact with the mother church of our Anglican tradition. Continue reading