February 6 | Daily Devotion

February 6 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“They mounted the onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel. Then they fastened them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, as the Lord commanded Moses.” ~Exodus 39:6-7

God gave His people rituals and symbols to ensure that they would remember whom they were worshipping. The lamps in the tabernacle remained lit all night as a reminder of God’s abiding presence for He never sleeps. The fragrance and wispy smoke of incense rose into the air just as the prayers of God’s people went up to Him. The Bible (still in stone tablet form) rested securely in the ark, the most sacred of places because this book was written by God and it was intended to be kept! Even the garments the priest wore while performing his duties were rich with symbolism. He wore the names of God’s people on specially designed signets that were sown into his robes. Bearing the tribes’ names on his person was a constant reminder that he was working before God on behalf of the people. Engraved on his crown, a thin, gold headband fitted around his turban, were the words “Holy to the Lord.” Here was a reminder that he, and the people he served, were called to be holy worshippers!

Ritual and tradition are good! We need them to remind us of what is important. That’s why we erect memorials, wear wedding rings, and hang photographs on our walls. Reminders only become problematic when ritual becomes ritual-ISM. Ritualism is the worship of the ritual itself or the meaningless practice of a ritual devoid of its authentic purpose. We are meant to carry out each of our God-given customs with intention so that we recall the message behind the motions. For example, beginning the day with the Lord’s prayer reminds us that we need God today; the practice of attending weekly worship prompts us to make all of life about worship; taking time for rest encourages us to see GOD as our provider; observing communion is our celebration of the fact that the cross was enough; and hearing the Word read and preached arouses a desire to hear from God again and again.

Praying through the Lord’s prayer each morning is a ritual I enjoy. Doing so reminds me of many things, including the reality that He is coming again (“your kingdom come”). In Matthew 24, Jesus reminds us that this world is a messed up place and it’s not really getting any better. But the words of His prayer give me hope for living in a world that is experiencing birth pains! Soon the Son of Man will return and bring forth a new heaven and earth!

As C. S. Lewis noted, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed” (Mere Christianity). So get some good rituals in your life and keep them real!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.