I think I’ll do something here I haven’t done much of… I’m gonna share my message notes! Today at Church in Bethesda we are finishing a series on Seven Spiritual Practices That Transform. I’m not immune to the words that come of my mouth, so I’m thinking about my own rituals, habit and life, in the light of the scriptures we will share. Here ya go…
Ritual ~ Cultivating Action
We come this week to the close of our discussion of Seven Spiritual Practices That Transform. Our “big idea” has been that we can adopt and adapt practices into our lives that will transform who we are and transform our world. We aren’t looking for just “change,” but for a deeper movement, a transforming.
We conclude today taking about “ritual,” what is sometimes the foundation of religious life and the bane of religious growth. Ritual is inevitable and shared, and so it should be handled with care. Good ritual, ritual that supports a person’s growth with God and is rooted in deep meaning and matters of importance, is ritual that cultivates action. Ritual that becomes detached from the matters of greatest importance will lose its meaning and ultimately bind and suffocate.
Main Ideas For The Day…
First, Jesus spoke and intended us to act. Some of us grew singing the song from Matthew 7 about “The wise man built his house upon the rock, and the rains came a-tumbling down…” When teaching the Sermon on the Mount as a youth pastor I often taught it backwards beginning here in chapter 7, beginning with the intention of Jesus that we act on his words. Jesus desired us to meaningfully engage what he taught and act it out in the world.
Secondly, Jesus didn’t like action separated from meaning. In Matthew 23 Jesus took some religious leaders to task for having flawless ritual and tradition, except that it actually violated the heart and will of God by being dead to the matters of greatest importance. Jesus wasn’t simply anti-ritual or anti-establishment. He was a reformer, or a restorer in many ways. *Matthew 23:23… keep the ritual, but make sure it’s serving the meaning!
Thirdly, review your ritual, your habits and ceremonies for meaning and growth. Think of the things you do, your actions, habits and routines, and prayerfully seek to align them with the matters of greatest importance. And we do this as a community, a church family!
The Value of Ritual
- Ritual teaches
- Ritual forms
- Ritual sustains
The Danger of Ritual
- Ritual can replace meaning
- Ritual can be mistaken for meaning (Colossians 2:16-23)
Have a blessed week, people! I’ll be posting later on in the week from the Wild Goose Festival! Hope to see some of you, there!