Dear church,

“Why do people like Starbucks?” My daughter asked me this as we pulled into the line of cars that wrapped around the Starbucks store. She’d had an early swim practice, and we were on our way home.  

It was her fault we were in that line, eight cars back, waiting to order a caramel Frappuccino – whatever that is. She had won a gift card to Starbucks after a successful swim meet. “Can’t we spend it now?” she asked. And I’m too soft sometimes when it comes to these daughters of mine.

And now we were waiting. The line was so long, I barely got off Grand Avenue as I joined it. I wondered about all these people who made a morning ritual out of the Starbucks drive-through lane. I prefer to make my coffee at home – because I don’t like lines and we live 45 minutes away. And I’m a cheapskate. 

I suppose the differences are pretty minimal. I stand and wait in the kitchen and listen to the coffee pot bubble. It usually is still dark outside, and I pay attention to the smell. There’s nothing like the smell of coffee in the morning. 

These are daily habits that come to be part of our lives. We don’t even think about them most of the time. And yet a day doesn’t seem to progress in the right fashion without our rituals. 

You have your daily rituals, too, if you care to think long enough about them. 

Of course, some rituals have more meaning than others. Your daily Bible reading is not simply a physical fix, like a morning coffee run. 

Other rituals have spiritual significance for our lives, too. “On the first day of the week, when they were gathered together to break bread …” (Acts 20:7).

The church decided upon the first day of the week for their gatherings because that was the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). A weekly ritual was established to recall the moment when Jesus set his disciples free from slavery to sin and death. 

It has a lot of similarities with the Passover celebration. “This month shall be for you the beginning of months … This day shall be for you a memorial day … so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations” (Exodus 12:2, 14, 42).

The people were brought out of slavery, and they took pains to remember it. And so do we when we gather every Sunday to break bread. 

This is not just a weekly or yearly fix, like my morning coffee. It is a ritual that causes us to remember the mighty deeds of the Lord. We bind ourselves again to Jesus Christ and that singular moment when the tomb opened up and the first dead man was resurrected to eternal life. It was a moment when slaves were freed.

But we do wait in this Sunday ritual of ours. It is a ritual of waiting, of proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). We look backward, and we look forward. 

Chris

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