Posted by: pastordarren | May 29, 2020

Rituals

The rituals of our lives are very important. Maybe we don’t realize how important until we loose them for a time. I know that we are all aware of recent events that have taken many of the rituals that are so meaningful to the church, schools, communities and our very lives. What rituals am I thinking about while writing this? Things like graduations, weddings, funerals, community worship, communion, baptism, community specific and national specific events like Memorial Day remembrances, summer festivals, gathering for bbqs and birthday parties, etc.

These examples just scratch the surface of the myriad of rituals and other meaningful events that we have practiced and participated in over the years and have contributed in shaping who we are. When I talk of rituals, I am simply talking about the different events and practices in our lives that have significant meaning and often will point us to something that is bigger than us. It can be the simple family celebration or remembrance, a faith based practice, or some event in our community or across the nation.

What happens though, when these are taken away from us? Because of the COVID-19 virus, we are not able to participate in many of the things that have meaning to us. At other times in our life too, we may have to miss these rituals because of life’s circumstances. I don’t want to argue about whether or not they should have been taken away or if they could have happened in the midst of the chaos. Regardless, in all cases, something in our life is missing.

When I think about the rituals that have been taken away or even postponed, I know that it feels wrong not to be able to participate in the act as it has been, yet the important event, the milestone, the larger than ourselves reality that the ritual points to, is still very much there.

So how do we respond? One way is to gripe, moan and even attack people because what you want is not available to to you at this time. We’ve seen it happening this way in a variety of circumstances and places. By lashing out at people in ways that are not helpful, there is a greater chance of causing more riffs and issues in relationships and communities.

The other response is that we can remember the larger reality and then find new ways to celebrate and remember. This way can bring life in the midst of the loss; and renewal in the midst of frustration.

Let me give you two examples. In the church I serve, just like many other churches, we have not been able to physically worship together since mid March. One of the central aspects of our worship time is the celebration of Communion each week. Even before we went in the quarantine, we were exploring different ways to participate in Communion together, yet as we have been doing online, streaming worship, we have had to take Communion in our own homes. Does this diminish the importance of Communion and what the bread and drink point to? NO in doesn’t. We still remember the Body of Christ given for us and Jesus’ blood shed for sin. The larger reality is still there and still as powerful, yet we have found new ways to remember and expanded our understanding of how Communion draws us together as the Church.

The other example is that of Graduation. So many people look forward to graduation from high school and college specifically. Graduation ceremonies and all the events surrounding and as a part of graduation are the culmination of many, many years of work and struggle; of friendship and joys. Yet when you are unable to walk across the stage, unable to do the all night parties or the awards ceremonies, many feel let down and there is definitely a loss. Just because graduates and families can’t do the normal celebratory events and rituals it doesn’t in any way minimize the accomplishments of the students. Many schools have found new ways to for the students and families to celebrate even with social distancing. And again these new ways uncover new ways and new meanings in the journey.

In all of this, we can not let go of the meanings that we celebrate and remember although the practices may need to change. It is the meanings and larger realities that are important to remember and pass on. Whether it is personal and family, faith communities, local communities and nations, let us not forget the larger realities and find new and exciting ways to celebrate. Those may even begin to deepen the meaning and lead us to a deeper understand of who we are and why things are important.

Peace.


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