Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Final Pause in Lent 2011 - Routine and Ritual 2

Lent is coming to an end, so this is the last post for A Pause in Lent 2011. It feels like it's gone fast - maybe too fast for me to take it all in! But that's why Lent happens every year, I guess. Please do visit all the other Pause in Lent bloggers listed in my sidebar, both for this Pause post and to celebrate Easter together next week too. What I said about needing Lent every year is perhaps a good summary of this post! I'm completing what I started when I first wrote about routines and rituals, and my thoroughly non-conformist dislike of both...
Now, the weird thing is, I resist them but I rely on them, too. I am confident that I'm not absolutely crazy, partly through reading Gretchen Rubin's comments about paradoxes. One of Gretchen's Secrets of Adulthood is “The opposite of a great truth is also true”. So, she argues, you can do a lot of good by resolving, for example, to: "Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously". I think you can see where she's coming from. So here comes my paradox:
I am a non-conformist who relies on routines and rituals.
There. Said it!
What do I mean? Well, routines help me keep the house tidy, the family clothed, my lessons prepared on time etc. Self-evident.
Rituals are more of a challenge, perhaps. As I said before, I learned to put words like 'empty' and 'meaningless' in front of the word 'ritual'.
But what if a ritual isn't empty or meaningless?
What if, in my free-form Bible study and our free-form worship at church (and boy, these French can do free-form) we only pick and choose the bits of the Bible we want to hear?
Isn't it easily done?
We have an almost weekly sermon from the letters of Saint Paul. Those are great teaching letters, so I can see why the various preachers go for them. But we don't hear many sermons on the Old Testament, which frankly requires a lot of explanation, or even on the Gospels, which are surely the base of our Christian faith.
I think a bit of discipline, in the form of (hush, whisper it) a lectionary to take us through the Bible bit by bit or even (gulp) some attention to the liturgy of the Church Calendar, would be a good thing in our non-conformist worship. And that's why I love Lent. The ritual brings order and discipline to my potentially self-centred, rather than Christ-centred, life.


PS The star of this post is the evening-scented flowering olive which I mentioned last week in my gratitude post!


PPS I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays.


PPPS Doing a PS is really bad from an English teacher's point of view, did you know that?

j PPPPS I'm going to be posting two posts a day starting tomorrow, assuming I get my act together. One will be a little snippet for Thrifty Week (see sidebar) and the other will be a daily prayer for our children. Last year I did a series FOR children in Holy Week. This year I'll be putting a bit of discipline into my Holy Week by praying for my children, and I hope that the prayers I write will be of some use to other parents too.


Fat Dormouse said...

I have - through my preaching - become aware of how important the Lectionary is. Without it, as you say, there is the danger that one ends up picking and choosing your favourite parts of the Bible, and not struggling with the more difficult parts. Sometimes, as a preacher, this is the ost rewarding part (but sometimes not!)

Thank you for initiating this Floss. It has been good for me to become involved in Pause In Lent. May God bless you & your loved ones this Eastertide.

Sherri B. said...

Lovely post Floss and I so enjoyed the childrens lessons last year. Looking forward to it all.

Betty said...

Hello Floss, looks like you might enjoy trying a few different churches like I do - it is refreshing to hear different sermons - some of the best I have been to are by lay preachers (at my own church too by the way) who speak from the heart and don't plan too much - it's the planning that makes it stale I think. God's Word should be coming at us undiluted, without too much format, deliberation or ritual - and that's what I look for on my travels. Next week all the churches in my town are meeting together for a service - these are refreshingly different too. Bettyx Thanks for doing Pause in Lent - it has been a really good focus for so many of us.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Floss!
This line is brilliant: The ritual brings order and discipline to my potentially self-centred, rather than Christ-centred, life.

I SO connect to your thinking.

Elizabethd said...

Thank you Floss for doing the Pause in Lent posts again. It has been a time of thinking, reflecting, learning.

Kaye - SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation said...

You make some great points, Floss - ones I wrestle with as well. I grew up in the Lutheran church and occasionally visit friends who attend a church with a similar liturgy. In spite of 40 years away from it, I can still recite the whole thing as we sing. But I do have to really work to focus on what I'm saying, rather than just mindlessly and easily reciting them all.

One thing I really love, but it's hard to find at many churches, is verse by verse Bible studies. Overall, you are getting solid teaching through all of the Word of God - particularly if the pastor is good about covering the less popular books of the Bible :) We just finished one in Habakkuk and it was such a blessing.

Thanks for such interesting food for thought and for again gathering together all of our devotions for Lent as well as other thoughts and ideas for all -from kids to seniors. It's been a blessing.

I'm continuing to pray for you! And looking forward to reading your prayers this week. Have a blessed and beautiful week!

Jane and Chris said...

I would be lost without the litrugical calendar. I must admit that I do not like the "Baa baa black sheep" intoning of some of the service respones. Some people seem to recite them without having any clue as to what they just said. Each to his own ,I guess.
A big 'thank you' for organising us again this year, it has been wonderful visiting, sharing and learning.
Jane x

Carolyn Phillips said...

I love your comment about ritual bringing order and discipline, making us Christ centred when we have a tendency to be self centred. I too belong to a very 'free from' church and sometimes miss that season by season liturgical change. I have benefited a lot from the discipline of posting weekly about Lent, it has brought an accountability into my thoughts which has in turn led to a commitment to going deeper than just the 'giving up' and that has been a blessing to me. I pray you will be blessed for your part in it.

I love your idea of prayers for our children this next week, and will be stopping by.

Whidbey Woman said...

Stopping by on this Spiritual Sunday. Thank you for this post. Have a blessed Holy Week!

magsmcc said...

Your Easter children's series are great- I'm coming to ely on them as much as on this Lenten pausing ritual- for the discipline to walk it, and talk about it, right to the end! Thank you! A returning briefly missionary from our (anglican) church was telling me just last week how much she has relied on the discipline of a year, and of thoughts and prayers for the year, throughout many times up a Himalaya with small children. I like the well-trodden path of faith when my creativity and originality is all sucked up in homeworks, uniforms and what to cook for tea! But the freedom is good too!

Pamela said...

Love the pictures of your olive tree. I like structure -- and nonstructure. A mixture of the two. That way I get through the Bible in a year and also enjoy times of "reading at will."