Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Have An Intentional Holiday

With Thanksgiving and all of the other holidays coming upon us, I've had a few thoughts running through my head I would like to share. Something that I plan to practice this year, and am hopeful that this will inspire others to do the same.

It all started with pondering rituals. We all have rituals. As a Christian who has spent his life in church, rituals/traditions and holidays just go together. As a minister every year if and when we were having the Christmas Eve service came up as an issue. (Just a kind thought on that, as a minister who has SEVERAL families that we need to try to see, very few parishioners think about how much more stress these extra services put on ministers. We don't get the luxury of not showing up because we have family to travel to see. Please be careful about the expectations you place on your ministers. Just a personal aside!) So anyway, churches have rituals, families have rituals, and even as individuals we have routines/habits/rituals in our daily lives.

The problem with rituals is that they become...well habitual. We do them without thinking about the reason. We don't stop and ask, "why is this a ritual, and why is it important?" Mom spends all day cooking the meal, making sure that she meets everyone's expectations (wouldn't want to not have the stuffing...it's a ritual!), and the guys hang out, eat, then go watch football afterwards. Some families say grace, others don't. Some families say what their thankful for, others don't. Some families argue and some don't.

I was wondering, what would happen if we slow down in this overly ritualistic time of the year (I don't mean overly in a bad way, just that there's a lot), and be intentional about what we do? What if we acted not out of ritual but intention?

Perhaps mom wouldn't be alone in the kitchen. Perhaps we would take the time to show gratitude to each other through the whole day rather than a quick mention at the table. Perhaps we would choose a family game over the pigskin and gridiron on TV. Perhaps we would live the whole day in prayer and meditate on what that means.

OR, perhaps nothing physically would change in our routine, but we would understand why we do what we do. What if we applied this to all the rituals in our lives...in our families...in our churches? Maybe then, the rituals would be less habitual and more intentional!

(painting by norman rockwell)

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