"Ritual is the way we (learn to) believe with our bodies." -- James K.A. Smith in Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works
I've been thinking a lot, lately, about worship, about my goals, what I'm filled by, and what is the correlation between my head, my hands, and my heart. Sometimes when we desire to become something, we seek to be informed about how to become that which we desire. We collect facts, figures, content, and inspiration. But if Augustine is right, and we are what we love--that what you love is what you worship and what you worship is what you love--then becoming is not simply a matter of education or information. It is an issue worship, and practicing what you would have your heart adore.
We practice the things we love. The internet is a pretty easy thing to love...and to make ritual in one's life. We may think we are merely collecting information when we Pinterest, or that we are staying current when we check social media continually. 5 minutes here, 25 minutes there...a little every hour, every day, every week. Regular...consistent...like eating.
Is it possible that the repetitive ritual of prostrating ourselves before the never-ending array of visual and social comparison actually bends our bodies towards worship of self? Self-worth, self-image, self-pity, self-doubt, self-fulfillment. And we wonder why we seem so good at discontentment and so lacking in faith. We are what we practice, we are what we worship...what we wrap our heart's affections around. Our temples erected for self-worship are not built in a day, they are fashioned from everyday habits, moment by moment choices, and the regular rituals of daily life.
The principle holds true conversely for that which fortifies a life of praise: everyday rituals become eternal building blocks. We may desire to have a repertoire of memorized scripture under our belts. We might strive for a prayer life that doesn't balk at extended time on our knees. Or, as parents, we might long for a vibrant, dedicated time of family worship at home.
These beautiful pictures of what it is to worship robustly and full of vigor...these great houses of praise are, likewise, built up consistently over time. Everyday rituals can become game-changers:
Perhaps you begin by memorizing one verse, bit by bit each day, as part of your morning ritual while taking a shower.
Perhaps you begin to strive toward a stronger prayer life by keeping a prayer journal, and praying through each item nightly. Or in the car. Or while making dinner. Or watering the garden.
Perhaps you create the family worship time you so desire with one small step: eat dinner altogether, and staying at the table afterwards.
Perhaps you want to love the Lord more...and you simply choose to purposefully meditate on his love for you through his Word, for 5 solid minutes a day.
Does it sound stiff and rigid? Perhaps...but, we create rituals regardless of whether they are spiritual or not. Every day is made up of minute, micro-rituals that shape who we are becoming.
Daily rituals, however small, add up to become largely impacting. For good or for bad.
What rituals do you engage in day by day that shape you in worship of self? What rituals are forming you into the likeness of Christ, little by little?
How is what you love becoming what you worship? And, how are you becoming that which you worship with your life?
Be blessed, friends. I encourage you to join me in thinking through these thoughts, not in self-condemnation and fear, but rather in faith to be bound up and strengthened in the love of Christ. May we ask Him to mold our hearts, align our minds, and make useful our hands.