02 May Rhythms and Rituals
Marking time through life- changing moments and rituals
Hanging right inside the door of my grandfather’s house hung a wall calendar, the kind you get from a bank or agri-center.
There were no appointments or meeting times recorded there, just birthdays and tally marks of different colors. The birthdays were so he could remember the ages of his many grandchildren. The tally marks were there so he could keep track of other important things like when the first dandelion showed itself, when the permafrost melted, and when his first daffodil came back. It was a calendar that reflected what he paid attention to and what he valued.
Just as our individual calendars are full, so is our church calendar. There are worships, meetings, gatherings, rehearsals, classes, and programs on the calendar each day and it is both exciting and a little overwhelming to see just how much is going on around here! Many of us look at our church calendar for information on locations and times but what if we look at it like my grandfather’s calendar, as a place to remember what we pay attention to and who we are.
In the days between April and May our calendar shows young people receiving their first communion, 8th grade youth affirming their faith, gardens being planted, funerals of beloved members, baptisms of young babies, conversations about hard things, quilts being blessed, and more. What are these if not signs of who we are and what we pay attention to?
Life goes fast and we have all sorts of tools to help us stay on track and remember all the things we have to do, and be at, and prepare for. The church also has tools to help us navigate the speed and demands of life so we don’t miss things. The church has rituals. Rituals help keep us from losing track or overlooking the holiness of God going on around us, among us, and within us.
This spring alongside the ritual of Sunday worship, we celebrate the rituals of first communion, baptism, marriage, death, and Affirmation of Baptism. Like a tally mark or a birthday on a calendar, these rituals mark our journey so we don’t lose track of ourselves – who we are and whose we are. We enact these rituals communally so that we can all bear witness to and participate in the new life God is always offering and revealing among us and so we can support one another on the journey of faith.
Whether you are in attendance at these rituals or not, they are a part of our church calendar and they reveal and record what we pay attention to and what we value. So here’s an idea, why don’t we all use the church calendar as a guide for our prayers in the month to come? What might the Spirit do among us if everyone in the congregation paused daily, in a posture of prayer, to struggle with, rejoice over, and deeply consider the things we collectively value and pay attention to?
As a staff person at Good Shepherd I get to see, participate in, and record signs of life among us in ways I feel incredibly honored to be part of. Resurrection life IS all around us in this place…..maybe it’s time I get a wall calendar like my grandfather and start recording it!