The Importance of Rituals
Religious rituals have been a part of every religion since the beginning of man. As humans, rituals are important to us; our world revolves around them. As Christians, rituals mark and commemorate extraordinary moments throughout the history of our faith, helping us to carry the presence of Christ in our lives and connecting us to Christians from the Apostles down to us and to those in the future. Our rituals make it felt that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are a part of the Body of Christ — His Church throughout the ages.
These rituals help us to create a close community, give us stability and continuity during a crisis, provide comfort in difficult times or grief, and give security in a confusing world. Rituals give meaning to our lives. They help us to express the meaning of our faith and beliefs that are beyond words to describe; and through them, identify who we are as Christians.
The greatest ritual given us by Christ is the Eucharist. He told us through the Apostles to eat this bread and drink this wine in memory of Him. Yet, some make excuses for not attending church services, where we can freely partake of this Christ-given ritual.
After Apollo 11 landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969, and Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had made their momentous walk on the moon, they settled back into the moon lander. Almost 20 years later, Aldrin wrote in Guidepost Magazine and Time Magazine reported that, after re-entering the module, Aldrin requested a few moments of silence (a communications blackout by NASA), inviting everyone listening to “contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”
He then took out a small communion kit that he brought as part of his limited personal item allotment. It held a tiny silver chalice, a wine vial about the size of his fingertip, and a tiny piece of his church’s communion loaf. He prepared his communion in the 1/6 gravity of the moon and read John 15:5 (KJV), “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.” He then took communion, the first food or drink consumed on the moon.
It awes me that the communion ritual was so important to this man that he prepared ahead to take it with him to the moon. That meant he had to give up taking something else that may have made his journey more comfortable in order to include the small communion kit in his allotment. I wonder how many of us would have thought so much of this ritual given to us by Christ to have prepared ahead and given up something else in order to do it? How many of us even think to take our Bibles with us, when we travel or vacation here on Earth? Or make plans to attend church services at our destinations? Yet, this man planned ahead to worship Christ on this momentous occasion in the midst of spectacular surroundings that could only have been created by God.
Are we making the same kind of time for God in our lives?
It’s something to consider.
by Patricia Hawke
Copyright 2008, Patricia Hawke