You have been given the gift of life, which you received from your parents. They created new life together and brought you into existence. Like parents birthing a child and begetting life anew from the life that was given them in an unbroken succession, so the Tradition of the Church passes life unto us. If that sounds like a radically difficult statement, it is likely because we have been deeply ingrained with an anti-tradition Western ideology of “anything that is new is better” that is left over from the Protestant Reformation.
Parents do not birth a child hoping for something strange and different. Instead, they give birth to a life that is every bit as human as themselves. The new child contains their human essence, their genetic code, some of their looks, and even some of their mannerisms, which somehow become inherently etched into the infant’s psyche.
Likewise, the Tradition of Christ’s Church is not a set of dead, old beliefs forced upon us – something from which we should seek liberty. Rather, when properly experienced, it is something that is alive. The Orthodox Church, our spiritual mother, births a Living Tradition into us which we may then beget into the next generation. If we desire something new and different — and not “that same old boring church tradition” — then it is likely because we do not understand or have never experienced the Living Tradition.
Tradition can be a scary word, but it need not be. When understood in its fullness, in Truth, then it becomes apparent that Tradition brings us life.
As mentioned above, human life is given to us by our parents in an unbroken succession. No child is born of parents who died centuries beforehand. That doesn’t even make sense. In the same way, the Church brings us life in an unbroken succession of Living Tradition. It has been popular in Protestant circles to believe that the body of Christ dried up and died some 1700-1900 years ago and it is now being revived. They cling to the Bible, which is the cornerstone of the Church’s Tradition, and attempt to resurrect a corpse that does not even exist – and all that with a severed piece of the Tradition.
I believe it is due to that partial embrace of the Living Tradition that I inherently felt for so many years of my spiritual journey that something was missing in this thing we call church. There is a profound word that describes the treasure I have found in Orthodoxy. It is a word often times overlooked in scripture. That word is “fullness.” Here in Orthodoxy, there is a fullness of the Living Tradition. There is a fullness of life, of love, of beauty, of wisdom, of poetry, of song and chant, and of unity with Christ and His body – past, present, and future. In this fullness, I resonate with the words of Bono that “Love makes no sense of space and time will disappear.” It is the experience of the fullness of the Church’s Living Tradition.
Once again, if you are not already part of the living body of Orthodoxy, I invite you into this life, this beauty, this song and heart-beat of the Church. It is a Tradition that is not learned intellectually from books or youtube videos, but rather a life that is lived in fullness with the body of Christ.