Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
(New Revised Standard Version)
St Paul is writing this letter regarding a particular circumstance. He is writing to the Romans where there has been disagreement in the new Church between Gentile and Jewish Christians. Those brought up in the Jewish faith were forbidden to eat pork and shellfish, for instance, and had to abide by strict laws concerning how food was prepared. Designed one imagines to ensure good health in the tribe initially, now these Jews were trying to insist that the Gentile converts follow their example. But Paul insists that they are placing a stumbling block in the way of faith, and this must not happened.
Today we may not have difficulties over food laws, but do we place other things in the way of fellow Christians, so that they become stumbling blocks? Worship styles with choruses, the use of the King James Bible, the singing of psalms to chants, the repetitive use of "Yes Lord" with hands raised, or traditional Matins or Evensong can grate with some Christians. The Anglican Church (that's us, folks!) is as wide as all the different denominations put together (ie Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics etc), so all these practices can be found somewhere in our parish churches. But none of these things should be a stumbling block for new Christians, for Christianity is not about styles of worship, it is about having faith in God and loving one's neighbour as oneself!
may our traditions not become
stumbling blocks for others;
may we be honest with ourselves
about what is important,
and what is simply habit;
may we put ourselves
in the place of others
so that we can see what is a help
and what is a hindrance
to building up the people of God.