Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Love Your LIfe: Rituals

I was browsing through old articles I'd ripped out of Family Circle magazine. As I purged the ones that I no longer wanted and/or needed, I nearly threw one out entitled "Love Your Life: Ten Ways To Feel Better About Everything Right Now." While it boasted ideas that were "spiritual", they weren't particularly Christian. And, I thought about it again. The ideas were solid but just needed some "tweaking" to be helpful to a believer.

So I selfishly thought that writing about them would ingrain them deeper for me but that sharing them as well here might also bless someone else!

I sat down Sunday morning in the church nursery. We head to church an hour before services begin so DaHubby, the singers, and the musicians can warm up for praise and worship. I often sit with the kids alone in an otherwise empty building for at least 30-40 minutes. I drafted up a post about keeping balanced by maintaining rituals using Family Circle's explanation that "a routine is merely something you do; a ritual had emotional significance."

I created an outline, had Bible verses, etc. I was all set to "wow" y'all with my insight. Then, service began...LOL

Our pastors are a married couple. Our denomination certifies women as pastors. Pastor Don does the majority of the traditional "pastor stuff" but Pastor Deb oversees several ministries as well all while working full time doing accounts payable for a local nursing home. Traditionally, Pastor Don does the preachin'. LOL But, as I slid in the back doors of the sanctuary after confirming that the Vikings were in their respective classrooms, I saw Pastor Deb up on the platform. While hardly shocking, it was still unusual.

She proceeded to spend the next 45+ minutes relating what has been going on between her and God lately. Struggles, discouragements. and LOTS of prayer led her to a morning about a month ago when she felt specifically directed by God to the Book of Daniel. More specifically - to the verses about Daniel's 21 day fast.

Now THERE is a ritual with emotional significance.

Our church has been having a lot of growing pains lately. The summer season hasn't helped much while good weather, traveling, and family functions beckon. Attendance has been down. Those that ARE there struggling with a critical spirit. It's been older folks vs. younger folks. New converts vs. lifelong members. Hymns vs. contemporary music. "I'm not listening to a woman preacher." "I don't like that kind of music so I'm coming in late after praise and worship is over." People coming in late. People coming in "inappropriately" dressed. People who "can't control their kids." Kids belong in regular service. Kids belong in children's church. It's been a rough couple of months.

But, DaHubby and I have always looked at being at a church like a marriage. Church jumpers looking for what feels good we are not. LOL This is where God put us. And, despite what's going on right now, we're gonna stick this out and make it work! We believe in our pastors' ministry and their call. And, while we might not understand or even like all their decisions, we're submitted to their wisdom, direction, and vision.

My humble opinion - Pastor Deb's teaching was just what we all needed to hear. A Daniel fast is something that would bring us all together for God's glory, help us regain our focus, stretch us into some much needed growth and break us out of this critical rut we've been in.

Problem is...I don't know the first thing about a Daniel fast. LOL

So, I've been reading...and reading...and praying...and thinking. Pastor Deb called the whole church to participate with either a 10-day or 21-day fast. The thing fasted was of our choice but was to be symbolic of something that was "defiling" our bodies (as was Daniel's example in Daniel 1.8). And, I'm having difficulty identifying that thing for me.

Ritual. Emotional Significance. Something that "keeps" me from God or is symbolically "defiling". I want a powerful, meaningful experience with this. A obedient answer to God's call. But, I feel like the Pentecostal rookie! *wink*

So, that's where I am now. I went from "Love Your Life" to identifying a fast. Routine vs. ritual. Hmmm...I'll keep y'a ll in the loop of how this transpires.

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