Cutting Off the Ends

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 

Mark 7:9

 
There’s the story of the newly married husband who observed his wife preparing to bake a ham for dinner. She cut off the ends of the ham, tossing them into the trash before putting the ham into a roasting pan. After she put the ham into the oven, he asked her why she cut off the ends of the ham, as it seemed an odd and wasteful thing to do. She shrugged her shoulders and told him that that’s how her mother prepared baked ham. Intrigued, he mentioned it to his mother-in-law the next time he saw her. She pondered his question for a moment before telling him that she learned it from her mother. His curiosity piqued, he called his wife’s grandmother to explore the rationale behind it. She told him matter-of-factly that she cut off the ends because she didn’t have a pan big enough to hold the whole ham.  
 
Are there instances in your life where cut off the ends of the proverbial ham? Many workplaces have a focus of process improvement or process engineering to avoid such instances, but I know that there are many who don’t, and it seems that the procedures that were in place during the Cuban Missile Crisis are still in place today (okay, I exaggerate some).   I’d venture to say that this “ham-end cutting” doesn’t happen a lot in our personal lives—I’d hope that as adults, we would understand why we do the things we do, instead of blindly doing them just because (though I might be a bit overly generous…it’s hard to say sometimes with people…).  
 
And now for the $64,000 question: what about our church life—are there times in which we find ourselves cutting off ham ends? Are there opportunities for you individually and us corporately to reexamine what we are doing and why we are doing it? I’m not advocating total anarchy as we decide to riot against the liturgy or music or the sacrament of Holy Communion (oh, please no). What I am suggesting, however, is that we become truly aware of why we are doing what we’re doing in our church service…that we understand our part in worship, and how and if we glorify our heavenly Father throughout it all. There are those who feel that we should honor and hold on to those things and traditions that define us, be they favorite hymns, readings, and artifacts such as the Giving Tree, so that the memories and history of our church is not lost. There are those who relish the liturgical aspect of a church service, because of the connection that it has with their childhood or with others who are in the same denomination or faith tradition. There is a comfort and connection that cannot be denied and shouldn’t be ignored.  
 
They’re not wrong.  
 
On the other hand, there are some who feel that we should not follow a liturgy in our service—that the weekly repetition of the Apostles’ Creed can become rote, and that the words of the responsive reading are just read en masse and not declared and understood by the individual. They feel that a more contemporary worship service could get us out of the hymnal and into singing more of the Christian Contemporary Music. There are those who feel that we need to change the physical makeup of the sanctuary and service, making it more open and inviting to all who may come. There is a charge and an excitement for worship that cannot be denied, nor should it be ignored.

 

And they’re not wrong, either.  
 
As a church, friends, we need to wrap our minds around the concept that we need to change in order to grow, not because we simply want more people in attendance (butts in the pews), but for the purpose of reaching more people with the good news of the gospel, and sharing in fellowship with them…of being with a multitude of believers who are worshiping and glorifying our risen Lord. We need to examine if we are holding on to things (activities, ways of doing things, concepts) because “we’ve always done them that way”. We must ensure that we are heeding the urging of the Holy Spirit to change things, here and there, to support the mission and purpose statements of the church. When we pursue His will, and seek to glorify Him, He is quite pleased.  
 

Prayer Requests

  • For healing for Judy Wallace as she convalesces after surgery
  • For comfort and support for those who have lost or are about to lose loved ones
  • For government leaders at all levels
  • For us to listen for and be obedient to His prompting

  Dear ones, change is always difficult. I hope no one thinks that I’m fussing at anyone, because I’m not. I love you, and more importantly, He loves you. We are children of God—brothers and sisters in Christ.

Quotes

  “The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the Prodigal Son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.” — Max Lucado  
 
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”