“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple,
they broke bread at home and ate their food
with glad and generous hearts,” (Acts 2:46).
Day by day… Hour by hour… Minute by minute… Habit by habit…
So, what rituals and habits have you continued to keep during these days of suspensions, postponements, “physical distancing” (I don’t care for the phrase “social distancing”, because we are made by God to connect with one another. We are not made to be alone), and the State of Ohio’s “Stay at Home Order”?
One of the marks of the early followers of Jesus was their commitment to rituals and habits. Day by day… they devoted themselves to prayer and worship in the Temple. Day by day… they reflected on the teaching of the apostles. Day by day… they participated in the “breaking of the bread”. Day by day… they sold their possessions and goods in order to serve those in need. And day by day, the Lord added to their number… (Read Acts 2:42-47).
Rituals and habits play an important role in the daily life of a Jesus follower. They bring a sense of calm to daily anxiety. They provide a bottomless well from which we can drink deeply. They lay a foundation upon which we can build a day and a life. They offer a compelling model, so that others may observe, learn, and grow. Rabbi Jesus spent a lot of time with His disciples (learners), offering them guidance, teaching them great truths, but also modeling the life of faith through rituals and habits.
Please feel free to stop here and reflect on your own rituals and habits. How might you “ritualize” a few key habits in order to love and serve God and the people of God more fully?
Please do not hold what you are about to read against me (smile). I know that not everyone is built this way (nor should they be). God creates us all in a beautiful abundance of diversity.
When I was serving my first parish in Edon, Ohio (1996-2004), I began a graduate degree in Medieval Church History at the University of Toledo. I love to learn, and this was a way for me to continue to grow intellectually. I also made a lot of great friends in the History Department. One of the requirements of the program was a language requirement. I would have to brush up on my Latin and pass an exam. The difficulty was that I was serving a parish and parenting 3 small children with Rachel. The only time I could focus on the Latin language and lots of graduate level reading and writing was in the morning… early in the morning. Every morning (except Sunday), from 4:45-7:45 a.m., I focused on schoolwork. The rest of the day was devoted to family and ministry. During those 3 hours, I developed a series of rituals and habits that served as a catalyst for learning, development, and growth. Though I completed my graduate degree, I have continued to set aside the early morning for habits and rituals.
So, here is what my Morning Ritual currently looks like Monday – Saturday from 5:00-8:00 a.m. I modify my Morning Ritual on Sunday mornings and when I am traveling.
- Rise and practice the habit of gratitude by giving thanks to God for a night of rest and the opportunity of a new day
- Drink a pint of water, take my vitamins, make coffee, and eat a very simple breakfast of Siggi’s Yogurt and toast (10 minutes)
- Daily Prayer using the 2020 Daily Texts, 10 Minutes of Centering Prayer, and Intercessory Prayer from the Prayer List I keep (20 minutes)
- Daily Scripture using the 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan from the Navigators and Pastor Eric Bodenstab’s Apocrypha Daily Reading Schedule (20 minutes)
- Read Professionally (60 minutes)
- Scan my Annual, Quarterly, and Weekly Goals. Establish and write out my Daily Big 3 “tasks” that help me to achieve my Weekly, Quarterly, and Annual Goals (20 minutes)
- Core Strength Exercises: 4 reps of pushups, crunches, planks, and squats (20 minutes)
- Hygiene and Dress (30 minutes)
- Depart and stop at Tim Hortons on the way into the Office
- I would love to learn about your daily rituals and habits. Drop me a line and let me know how God is growing you as a spiritual leader day by day… one ritual and habit at a time.