Wait a minute. What?! That isn't right. "Tradition alone" is not one of the Reformation "sola's". Usually we hear that Martin Luther stood for the Word of God over and against the traditions of men. Why, then, would I say that we stand for tradition?
It is true that the traditions of men can at times usurp the Word of God in the mind of the Church. We are sinners and remain susceptible to the temptation of idolatry. When tradition stands in the way of the Gospel, when the words and actions of men contradict the Word of God, then we must take refuge in God's Word. We must cut out the harmful tradition in order to preserve a pure Gospel.
Yet tradition in the Church is good and salutary. Many traditions actually draw our attention away from the ways of the world and focus our minds on Jesus Christ.
Take, for example, the Church Year. We use this calendar unique to the Christian Church we celebrate the events of Jesus' life and God's gifts to us through the Holy Spirit when the rest of the world is merely going through the motions of daily life. We learn the Scriptures in a systematic way followed by the Church down through the ages while everyone else is trying to find their own way through the Bible.
Does following the Church Year make me more righteous than my neighbor who has no idea what Advent or Lent are? Absolutely not! But is it of great benefit to me in my life of repentance? YES!
Our generation of Christians is not the first to hear the Gospel. We should not act like it. We do not need to swallow everything that our ancestors in the faith have handed down to us uncritically. Yet we should not reject it simply because it is "old" or "outdated".
Tradition is a gift handed down to us from those who have gone before us. We would be quite wrong to ignore it or reject it. Rather, we should readily take what they have handed down to us, see it in light of the Scriptures, and reject only what God's Word rejects.
May the traditions of the Church always point you to Christ alone!
[Tomorrow: We stand for Good Government!]