Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Christian Rituals

Christian rituals such as celebrating Christmas and Easter shows what can happen when a ritual is practiced and the meaning behind the ritual is all but forgotten. It is a terrible shame what has happened to Christmas; the birth of Christ is not the meaning of Christmas in the United States today; commercialism is the god of Christmas, and Easter is fast becoming the same way. Christmas has a social value that meets the people’s needs in the area of relationship and friendship closeness, but it no longer meets the spiritual needs of most of the people who celebrate it.

Easter has turned into a child’s game type of event that makes a mockery of the resurrection. Easter is a ritual of chasing eggs and bunnies, not praising God for resurrecting Jesus from the dead. It’s about who looks the prettiest in their new dress or suit, not about being thankful for the Firstborn of God.

Other rituals Christians practice, such as baptism and communion, are a vital part of the Christian experience, and they are commanded by Christ to be done; there’s no argument against their importance. Some rituals, such as snake handling, are on the fringe and are even considered to be anti-productive in the cause for Christ.

There is a group of Christians in Africa who jump up and down in a trance for three straight days in their worship of Jesus. I can see the social importance of this because it brings them together and in commitment to each other, but I can’t understand how Christ is glorified by this. I have no idea what I would do as a missionary in this area. Is this how Christmas and Easter appears to non-Christians? Just something to jump up and down about with no real meaning?

Why don’t we Christian try to bring Christ back into focus as the “reason for the season”? When some says “Happy Holiday” to you this year, be sure to reply with a “Merry Christmas”, “God bless you”, and/or “Jesus is Lord”. Use Christ-centered Christmas cards and decorations. Let others know you are celebrating the birth of our Savior, not the return of a fat man in a red suit.

2 comments:

BDT said...

Frank,
I agree with the idea that many things that Christians prescribe to have become commercialized and made a profit game. It seems that the “religious” have simply become or have made themselves a target for such things. The idea anymore is to look the part not “be” the part. As you said it’s become about who looks best on Easter Sunday.
But I also think it’s an attitude. Even with Baptism and Communion, if it’s simply a ritual we’ve conformed to and just a prescribed order and not an act of worship, we’ve missed it. If anything we do becomes less than worship it becomes a ritual. If it ever becomes just for the sake of doing it because we’ve been told to and not because it’s an attitude of worship then it’s meaningless. It’s no different from the Law; it’s become like a Law to us. Jesus said” a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth”.
As far Christians bringing Christ back into the reason for the season; when they go out to eat on their ritualistic Sabbath because they think they can’t cook at home, be kind enough to tip the waitress generously. It simply amazes me how rude, obnoxious and selfish church goers can be. I know waitresses that absolutely hate to work on Sunday because of the “church crowd” because there are usually a lot of them, they’re very demanding and then they don’t tip (maybe leave a dollar). That doesn’t cut it! Remember be generous on every occasion.
As for those that do the things such as snake handling, jumping or whatever is simply personal edification regardless of the intent. With rituals, again it’s more about the act and less about worship. Here’s what scripture says about worship: “Rom 12:1, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” NIV

Frank said...

Hi BDT,

Rituals can be so ingrained in us it's hard to break away. You're right about baptism and communion, it's a shame we don't follow the Bible's examples more closely.

I was at a church that had communion with little crackers and juice on the first Sunday of each month and a pot luck weal on the last; I asked the pastor why we didn't join the two to be closer to the Bible example and he just blew it off, didn't show an ounce of interest in the idea.

Too bad.