Chappy’s corner “Because it’s tradition!”

Ole had just moved into the neighborhood and every Friday night he grilled up a thick juicy T - bone steak.  His neighbors were all Roman Catholics and they were eating fish every Friday night.  They always had to smell that steak cooking while they ate their tuna fish casseroles.  So, they all decided to convince Ole to join the Catholic Church. They talked him into meeting with the priest, who said, “Okay Ole. We will make this very simple. “With that he took some water and sprinkled it on Ole and said, “You were born a Lutheran, now you are Catholic”.  Everybody was happy, but then came Friday night and once again Ole fired up his grill and put a big juicy T-Bone steak on it. His neighbors rushed out and said, “Ole you’re Catholic now, you can’t eat beef on Fridays” Ole smiled and said, “don’t worry I have this covered.” With that, he took some water and sprinkled it on the steak and said, “You were born a cow, now you are a fish.”


That joke has been around for a long time, but I share it because we are now in the season of Lent and many of my Roman Catholic friends have given up eating meat on Fridays; others have given up other foods or pleasures for Lent.  Fasting or giving up something for religious reasons is fine and good, as long as we remember why we are doing it.

Traditions are fine and good, but if we do them without thinking it is not always a good thing.  In the military we have many traditions, especially those associated with honoring those who have died. At such times we don’t want to be casual about it, but do it with dignity and honor in remembrance of those who served and gave all for our freedoms. When it comes to military or other special ceremonies, we need to pause and think about why we are doing it. 


Too often we say and do things without thinking why we are doing it.  One man confessed that he had a hard time saying the Lord’s Prayer without thinking about something else as he said it.  A friend replied, “Oh I can say the Lord’s prayer easily without any other thoughts and to prove it, I bet you your horse I can do it.” The other man said, “I doubt you can, and I’m not much of a betting man, but okay if you can do it without any other thought crossing your mind you can have my horse.”  The second fellow started the prayer, “Our father who art in heaven…” but then he stopped and said, “Hey does the saddle come with the horse?”

It is easy to say things and do things without thinking why we are doing them.  It is true in our work, our worship and in the way we live.  To avoid that problem it is wise to slow down and reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it.


Jesus understood that very well.  Throughout his life on this earth, Jesus knew why He had come and what His mission was.  He would not lose sight of his purpose and that was to set people free from sin and death.  As Jesus once stated, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.  Jesus knew his purpose was to do His Heavenly Father’s will which included suffering, dying and rising again in order to set people free from sin and death.  Jesus did that to give us life with God now and forever. That is God’s promise to all who trust in Jesus.


In this season of Lent many folks are remembering what Jesus did. To help them remember they have given up certain foods, or attend extra worship services, or maybe committed to some special project for these days of Lent.  All of that is fine and good, as long as we continue to remember why we do it.

That’s just my thoughts from this SE corner of South Dakota!

CH (COL) David Gunderson

State Chaplain for SDARNG