I grew up in a church that was so low it basically qualified as being underground.
For all that it was quite traditional.
There was general suspicion of the more ritualistic expressions of other churches (and perhaps a lack of awareness of our own rituals).
We would have insisted that anything that looked like a ritual was based in Scripture, not human imagination.
I see what I’d call the challenge that confronts churches that reject any sense of continuity with Christians from the last twenty centuries (apart from faith and the Bible) as they succumb to novelties that take them anywhere or struggling to invent actions that give expression to what Christians have already been practicing in other movements for generations past.
That’s why a thoughtful engagement with the gifts of the church is increasingly helpful.
Because traditions and rituals aren’t magic formulas. They are invitations to remember and share with those who have gone before.
They can’t be imposed. But if they are chosen they have their uses.
From Esau McCaulley’s book Lent – The Season Of Repentance And Renewal.
Stories and rituals pass on understanding. Jesus knew this. During his last night with his disciples he did not have them memorize a position paper on the meaning of the atonement; he gave them a meal–a ritual with set words and actions that immediately entered the life of the early church. This why Paul can say, “I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread…” (1 Corinthians 11:23). Paul refers to central aspects of Christian doctrine, like the resurrection and ritual activities, as things he received (1 Corinthians 11:23; 15:1-3). Both the ritual piety and the apostolic doctrines are part of our inheritance as Christians.Our discussion does not mean that ritual or even the Lord’s Supper is limited to a pedagogical technique.
Christians throughout the centuries have maintained that in and through things like the bread and wine of the Eucharist, God comes to meet us. Christ doesn’t just teach us about himself in the Eucharist; he comes to us and nourishes the weary believer. We can have both. Ritual is both a means of spiritual formation (we learn through repetition) and an encounter (God meets us in the act of worship and praise in the liturgy).
Esau McCaulley, Lent – The Season Of Repentance And Renewal, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. 2022, pgs. 54-55.
One thought on “The Repetition Of Ritual As Remembrance That Brings Spiritual Formation And Encounter With God (via Esau McCaulley)”
Spot on Gary.