Advent 2014: Yes to Ritual

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Sometimes, new and novel is tiring. 

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to cook something new, go places we've never been, to invent or "branch out."

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. Walking into church, I felt such a sense of anticipation. I knew we were going to lower the wreath and light the first candle, and that there would probably be some Advent devotionals in a basket by the door. I knew we'd sing some Advent hymns. And I knew for sure I'd cry.

Rituals give us resting places, a net to fall into so we don't have to be cute, catchy, or relevant. We can relax into the words, actions, and songs that are beyond relevancy. What a relief! Forget the Facebook post that will get the most likes, the blog post that will get the most comments, or the Christmas gift that will blow everyone away. We can take a breath and just be.

Whenever we say "yes," to something, it means saying "no" to something else. Saying "yes" to sacred ritual might mean we bow out of the annual gift card exchange. Or resist the little voice that says our children need a new tablet because their friends have one. I'm not talking about adding a bunch of Pinterest-worthy crafts to the schedule!

One of my pastors said this morning, "Can't you feel how the earth is slowing down?" I can. And it's what I need.