Our Fascination with Ritual



There is a long standing view that Quakers do not have any set rituals that we follow. The Roman Catholics have seven sacraments while the majority of the Protestant sects celebrate two, water baptism and communion. Many of the latter would call them ceremonies, than sacraments.

I prefer the term sacrament, as our whole lives are to be caught up in the sacramental. We should look at every moment as a sacred event. I know that we tend to draw a line between what we term sacred and what we term secular. For example, most of us would think of attending Meeting for Worship as sacred, while going to the movie theater as secular.

Think of all the activities we partake of through the week. How many of these events can we categorize as sacred and how many as secular? Now some seem so easy, we can place them in the sacred category without thinking. Praying, whether verbal or silent would automatically fall under the heading of sacred. Actually, all prayer would fall under this category.

I am a very finicky eater. One thing I have always loved is ice cream. Vanilla chocolate chip is probably my favorite. Most people, including myself, would place this activity under the heading of secular. Of course, many of would place eating in general in that category. So many other activities such as: going to the movies, a concert in the park, roller skating, swimming etc. would easily be termed as secular. The list could go on and on.

Every week Friends go through a ritual, whether programmed or un-programmed. At a prearranged set time, we show up at our respective Meetinghouses / churches. If we are of the more silent type, we enter in quietness to the Meeting. If we attend a programmed meeting, we chat with those around us until someone on the ministry team begins a prayer or a song, to kick things off.

Whether we think about it or not, this is a set ritual that we follow. Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this. We need this time of getting together with fellow believers on a regular basis. I find that when I fall out of regular fellowship for any period of time, I get spiritually dry. We need this togetherness, as we are a family. The old saying goes that the “family that prays together, stays together.” I would venture to say that applies not only to our home life but to our church life as well.

Colossians 3: 17 says: “Let every word and action, everything you do, be in the name of the Lord Jesus, and give thanks through Him to God the Father” (REB). This verse should be a wake up call for all of us who name Christ as our Savior and Lord. Perhaps it’s time to consider that every moment of every day is to be lived in the sacred. Are we as Christians willing to truly allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our daily affairs?