Good Rituals

Friday, February 05, 2010
"Rituals" get a bad word in the Christian world sometimes, especially the part of the Christian world that - like Next Level - doesn't major on liturgy or using set orders of worship.

But rituals can be a great thing, if they are more like habits of the heart that draw us closer to God.

A very wise friend of mine refers to her spiritual rituals and disciplines as ways of "wearing the groove" between her and God. She has figured out which practices help her get closer to and connect with God, she knows they work for her, and she uses them again and again to stoke the fire of her heart.

I need such rituals because the world on its own terms is too dazzling and loud and distracting for me to hear God well.

Here are a few of the good rituals that feed mind and heart for me:

*Coffee and the Bible every morning. Not exactly original but I need it. The stimulant of the caffeine, the warmth of the cup, my heart and thoughts aligned with God's first thing.

*The Charlotte Observer and Wall Street Journal with another cup of coffee every morning. My job as a teaching pastor is to bridge the worlds between the Bible and the news. Getting double shots of both first thing in the morning helps remind me of that. I know I could save a few bucks by consuming my news online but I find that keeping Bible and newspapers together - linked by high octane coffee - helps keep my calling clear and fresh.

*Prayer-walking our church campus every Thursday. Sometime every Thursday I make it over to the Matthews Campus simply to pray for the upcoming Sunday. I walk around the perimeter of the campus praying for the church as a whole. I walk through the Kid City buildings and the Student Center praying for the young lives which will be impacted week to week. I walk past the Preschool building thanking God for that chance to serve our community. I walk down the the Fire Pit and pray for the guys who gather there a few times a week. I walk through the parking lot, praying for our guests and for our Car Repair Team. I stick my head in Volunteer Central and pray for all the folks in red t-shirts who are the face and voice of NLC to guests; and into the Blue Room to thank God for the artists who use their gifts to serve God and draw people into connection and worship. And I walk through the auditorium, praying over sections and chairs and asking God to fill the place with his presence on Sunday. I can't imagine a Thursday without that prayer journey around our campus.

*Praying for YOU through Facebook. As a regular spiritual discipline I click on the profile pages of NLC people who are my Facebook friends praying for their lives in general and in specific, based on what their status update says that day. Big things and little, but I love being connected to you in that way.

*Friday afternoons off. The job of a teaching pastor means I can't relax a lot on Saturdays - body, mind, spirit are all geared for Sunday morning, adrenaline is flowing, my "game face" is on. But I HAVE to have some time to pull away. For me, that is Friday afternoon. I go to the Production Meeting for Sunday first thing, usually catch coffee or an early lunch with someone, clear out the email inbox and then unplug from the matrix. No phone, texts, or e-mails for a few hours...I do stuff that is quiet and fun and replenishing and has nothing to do with my job. Hang out at Barnes and Noble or Borders. Go for a run. Take a nap. Buy stuff at Trader Joe's. Read about the Tar Heels or Panthers online (OK, sometimes THAT part is not relaxing, especially this season). It is the only time of my week where I am truly "off" - this few hours between Friday morning meetings and getting the boys from school, usually. But I find that it is incredibly energizing for me.

What about you?

What are your good rituals? Where are you "wearing the groove" between you and Jesus?

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