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The Power of Ritual

14September2011

Heikki Raisanen, in his book “The Rise of Christian Beliefs: The Thought World of Early Christians” states this in his book:  “Ritual make adherents of a religion tick more often than it doctrines.”  This tickled my ears.  I really like what it says, even as I write for a blog that has been formed to provide an orthodox doctrine of thought regarding the life of the church today.  Christ is the rock upon which my faith stands—He is our foundation.  Doctrine provides the structure, the studs, and the support beams which help to build the house.  But it is ritual that turns this house into a home.

I’ve read my theology books and I have, at least, a fair understanding of theology and doctrine.  To borrow the words of Len Sweet, my theology gets more and more complex as I read and learn, but my faith gets more and more simple—more child like.  This is the power of ritual.  It takes the theology of doctrine and makes it homey; it takes the high and lofty thoughts of theology and makes them real and incarnational.

I welcomed my fourth child into this world last week.  Ella was born last Tuesday.  In my study and through my faith I know and understand her need for a Savior.  I get sin, I see it already—she really doesn’t care about my schedule.  She only cares about how empty her stomach is or how full her diaper is.  I understand—to an extent—what Jesus did to rescue and redeem her, you, and me.  I get all this and it has an impact on me.

But doctrine isn’t what brought me to tears when my 2 years olds came and traced the sign of the cross on their sister’s forehead yesterday–that was ritual.  In that moment, Jesus was incarnate!  In that moment my faith was alive.  I understand its significance from my doctrinal foundation.  But my faith is incarnate and Jesus is risen from the dead in moments where I practice my faith–not when I read about it.  Ritual is vital to who I am and why I am–It connects me to the Great I Am!

Doctrine is so very important as we learn and grow deeper in our faith.  But it cannot be doctrine for doctrines sake.  It is about faith in practice and faith in motion.  Our family has embraced the ritual of the Faith 5—a simple, yet profound, family ritual.  I invite you to try it with the ones you love.  5 simple steps that create a ritual of faith that will change you and grow you together and grow you in Jesus.  The steps are this: 1. Share your highs and lows of the day 2. Read a verse of scripture 3. Talk about how they connect 4. Pray together for your highs and lows 5. Bless one another.  Read more about the Faith 5 at www.faithink.com

Here is a picture of that faith ritual in the hospital.  Some say a picture is worth a 1,000 words.  I’d say this one is worth a 1,000 sermons.

SMN

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