Pastor Ed encouraged us to think about the difference between what is of critical importance to the Christian faith and what things might be of secondary importance. In the passage from Matthew 15 Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and scribes for elevating human tradition above the commandment of God. Pastor Ed gave the example of Martin Luther who argued that the use of Latin in mass was standing in the way of people understanding God's truth. He conducted services in the language the people understood rather than in one they didn't understand. John Wesley also challenged tradition when he chose to preach in the open air rather than confining worship to inside a church. He went to where the people were to bring them God's truth. We were challenged to adhere to the core values of the Christian faith as taught by Jesus Christ--and to remain flexible to use the methods and forms that will best communicate the gospel to people today.
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. Matthew 15:1-6 (NRSV)