Tag Archives: Fiddler on the Roof

The Pros and Cons of Tradition

 

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Wendy and I went to see Union Street Players’ production of Fiddler on the Roof yesterday afternoon. It has been a long time since I’ve seen the show. I was a bit surprised how the musical, about changing times within a small, Russian Jewish community in the early 20th century, resonated with me.

We live in a small community with very deep Christian convictions, and our “Traditions” are very much like those of Anatevka, the community portrayed in Fiddler. For many, our Christian traditions provide a deep sense order and temporal peace in a rapidly changing world. When our traditions are threatened by change, it usually meets with loud and passionate objections fueled by anxiety and fear. As with Anatevka, there has historically been strong societal pressure to conform to the community traditions.

Paul was dealing with a very similar situation when he wrote to Jesus’ followers in Galatia. Most of Jesus’ early followers came from Jewish traditions which were then being threatened by non-Jewsish (a.k.a. Gentile) believers. The changes this wrought within these fledgling communities of believers was immense and the passionate divisions it stirred was intense. Those from Jewish traditions saw their faith in Jesus as a mere extension of their Jewish traditions.  Those from Gentile traditions did not wish to adopt Jewish traditions to be followers of Jesus.

Paul, addressing these divisions, makes it clear that he has no interest in doing things simply to bow to human traditions and become a people pleaser. As Tevye and the residents of Anatevka discover in Fiddler on the Roof, the times, they are a changing. Paul makes it clear that he will follow Jesus, even if it means abandoning many of his traditions and raising the ire of the society in which he was raised and from which he came.

Today, I’m thinking about my own traditions, the ones passed down to me by family and community. Some I honor and obey because I feel Jesus clearly commands His followers to do so. Some I honor and follow because I find them beneficial to me and to my life, relationships, and community. Some, I find silly and don’t care about whatsoever. Traditions are a good thing right up to the point they become more about keeping up appearances and pleasing the community than they do about sincere faith and personal spiritual benefit.

The Latest 07-26-2015

It felt like a long week, but it always does feel long when most of it is spent on a business trip. And, I didn’t have much rest going into it. I was asked to give the message at Central in Oskaloosa last Sunday. There were two services, one at 8:30 for the older, more traditional crowd and 10:45 for the younger, more contemporary crowd. I was pleased when Howard and Donna DeGroot came up to say “hello” after the first service. I hadn’t spoken to them in a long time. They seemed excited to meet Wendy and it was good to catch up.

After the service Wendy and I high-tailed it to Ankeny where members of the Vander Hart clan had gathered. Becky, Court, and Lydia were visiting from Denver. We had lunch and hung out all afternoon. It was the first time we’d seen Lydia since she was a newborn. It was fun to get reacquainted.

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We buzzed home in the evening and I packed for my trip. I spent the week with our client in San Antonio and Laredo, Texas where it was very hot. Good week, however. While I was away Wendy and Suzanna played host to Becky, Court, and Lydia who introduced Lydia to Pella. I was sad to have missed it.

I landed back home in DSM (relatively on time) Friday evening about 7:30 p.m. Almost immediately upon arrival back at Vander Well Manor, Wendy and I walked over to McQuade Pub and were refreshed, body and soul, by Kevin and Linda’s hospitality. As usual, it was a late evening of drinks and meandering conversation.

2015 07 Suzanna in Fiddler

It’s opening weekend for Union Street Players Fiddler on the Roof. Wendy and I usually take summers off of productions, preferring to spend whatever free time we can manage at the lake. Suzanna, however, is in the chorus and Wendy and I are involved behind the scenes with ticket sales and various production issues. We announced at USP’s monthly meeting that we will be stepping down from the Board after 10 years. Grandma Vander Hart told Wendy that the local radio station even found the event newsworthy enough for their local news broadcast this week. You gotta love small town Iowa.

knia story

Wendy’s mom came yesterday and is spending the weekend to see Suzanna in Fiddler. VW Manor feels like a Bed and Breakfast this week and we love it. We are excited for the coming week. Taylor moves home after her year of grad school in Scotland. Madison arrives back in Iowa on Thursday. The entire Vander Well clan joins to celebrate nephew Sam’s wedding to Lydia Yoder on Saturday morning.