There was a sanctuary with two pulpits, affectionately, the twin towers.
My first church had a worship center with identical pulpits. They were large, made from hard wood, and imposing. In-between was a lot of space as the twins were proudly perched at the far edges.
The announcements, prayers, and songs were done from the right while the preaching was done from the left. It’s how it was done, it was steeped in tradition, for as long as anyone could remember and no one could explain why.
For some, tradition frames faith, holds to a heritage, and connects us to the right place and the right things to do. Long held traditions can be comforting.
However, I’m concerned when tradition gets elevated to the plane of doctrine, leaving believers incapable of separating them from scripture. At that place, traditions aren’t harmlessly comforting, they are just wrong and bind believers with knots that remain knotted for life. Such were the dual pulpits in my first church.
Being young and unseasoned, it seemed odd to exalt one pulpit for sermons while relegating the other for “lesser” functions. I didn’t attempt to remove one, nor move one to the center. Nope, I crafted a neck-strap for the mike that was on the preaching pulpit, ordered a 50-foot cable, and mounted center stage.
I got closer to the congregation, was unfettered, and preached from an open bible. It defined my preaching style for life. It was my new tradition!
He was accosted for breaking tradition.
- He associated with sinners.
- He befriended prostitutes.
- He entered Zacchaeus’s home.
- He touched lepers.
- He ministered to Samaritans, in Samaria.
- He and his apostles failed to properly wash their hands.
- And there were other sacred traditions he didn’t keep.
His violating tradition put him in bad odor with the religious elite. The self-righteous defenders of the ancient ways were appalled. The broken sinners were refreshed. He said that he came to save the lost and to make them righteous, not self-righteous. And no traditions of the Pharisees, Rabbis, or Synagogue rulers were allowed to interfere with his mission and message.
Jesus didn’t simply discard tradition or lessen the law, at least not until all was fulfilled and he fulfilled it all. Salvation by a covenant of law was ended at Calvary and replaced with a covenant of grace, a better covenant, a covenant of the heart. And we are all the better for it.
The first Sunday I preached in the middle, without a pulpit, there were gasps.