Weekly Thought – February 12, 2019
Fred wrote and spoke often about the necessity of living in the present. He urged young ones to develop a work ethic, not a wish ethic. He consulted with numerous Christian ministries, pointing out the power of reality. And as he aged he regularly engaged his contemporaries in the need to jettison “used to” thinking.
As the research for the What’s Next book continues, please pray for fruitful interviews and clarity in developing the material. Also, as unpacked boxes of Fred’s material are uncovered, pray for an effective strategy for using the “new gems.”
Ritual Versus Reality
I recently had an interesting discussion of ritual versus reality. We acknowledged that the ritual was originally established to perpetuate the reality. However, we humans have a tendency to keep this ritual, letting the reality slip away. Theologically, this may be a subtle attempt on man’s part to take human control what initially was seen as divine.
When we do this we feel free to augment the ritual to please ourselves. This way we can make the ritual so elaborate it becomes what we would want it we were God. The outcome is often far from the sandals and seamless robe.
I have heard about (but never watched) TV shows that redo houses by tearing down walls, replacing simple design with upscale features. They take basic residences and bring them up to current tastes. Sometimes it seems like we want to do this with the fundamental rituals of the church which had a viable base. As I look at it, I see people who add color, sound, and video to make church more “relevant” and acceptable. We take the ordinary and overlay it with flash, thinking it will attract.
But I was taught a good lesson about other young ones who are serious about the reality. When I served as chair of the national Youth for Christ board why they were trying to dismantle the traditional church. This is what I saw happening with the changes in music and casual dress. To my surprise he replied, “Mr. Smith, we are not trying to destroy the traditions of the faith, but we are not willing to perpetuate them without the experience that created them.” Excellent answer.
How do we capture the initial reality? How do we avoid doing things by rote? Sometimes I hear people repeating the Lord’s Prayer in such a mindless state I wonder if they are even hearing themselves? Think of the disciples as they received the instructions from Christ? This was not a droning sound.
I submit we refill the ritual with the reality that gives it life.
This week think about: 1) Where have I substituted ritual for a vital reality? 2) What can I do to enliven my faith experience? 3) How can I connect with liturgy and form to bring the reality of Jesus into my life?
Words of Wisdom: “We acknowledged that the ritual was originally established to perpetuate the reality.”
Wisdom from the Word: “these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ!” (Colossians 2:17 NET Bible)