by Christopher Harbin

Faith to Follow
Christopher B. Harbin
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; John 9:1-41; Ephesians 5:8-14

This week, AMC showed an abridged version of the 1971 film, Fiddler on the Roof. The film opens with Tev'ye telling us about keeping a tenuous balance in life by means of our traditions. When life is uncertain or troubling, we seek stability in tradition to give us a harbor from the winds of change that would upset us. As Tevye finishes his remarks, we begin to see that even his beloved traditions are on the verge of change. Is there a way to keep our balance on the precarious roof of life when even our traditions are in jeopardy? Can faith grant security beyond that offered by our traditions and heritage?

Tev'ye has some interesting comments to make about tradition. We like tradition, we fight against it. We crave the structure tradition brings into our lives, yet we struggle to break the bonds of those same structures. We hold fast to traditions, yet have no understanding of where they came from, nor why they were ever begun. Traditions are little problem until they are challenged. Challenge is often disconcerting, however. It causes us to enter unknown territory, where there is often great anxiety.

Samuel faced uncertainty and fear in the wake of Saul's apostasy. It had not been long since Israel had demanded a king, and Samuel had warned against it. As the people continued to beg for a king, Samuel anointed Saul. For a while, things progressed well, but this new tradition brought about some of the problems Samuel had foreseen. Saul had been transformed from servant of God and the nation to servant of selfish power and ambition. God called Samuel to anoint another king in his stead.

It was a new tradition to have a king in Israel. A few year before, they had operated with prophets, priests, and judges. They had sought wise counsel and leadership independent of an established monarchy. A few short years into this new tradition of having ...

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