The Fragrance of Love: Rituals and Routines

by Cathy Baker

I LOVE structure. 

In fact, it’s a necessary component to my day. And apparently I’m not alone. 

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Cynthia Owens is currently helping me structure my time wisely. One book she mentioned early on was Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals…How Artists Work. 

In it, you’ll find rituals from over two hundred artists including writers, composers, filmmakers, scientists, poets, philosophers, sculptors, choreographers, etc. I couldn’t put it down!

Although the rituals of Jane Austin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and Stephen King are all fascinating, today I’m shining the spotlight on Jonathan Edwards, the eighteenth-century preacher and theologian. 

He spent thirteen hours a day in his study, beginning at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. (He noted in his diary, “I think Christ has recommended rising early in the morning, by his rising from the grave very early.”) To break up these long hours he would do some type of physical activity but my favorite tidbit? For horseback rides, he employed a mnemonic device as described by his biographer George W. Marsden: “For each insight he wished to remember, he would pin a small piece of paper on a particular part of his clothes, which he would associate with the thought. When he returned home he would unpin these and write down each idea. At the ends of trips of several days, his clothes might be covered by quite a few of these slips of paper.”

Now, I’m not a fan of the word ritual but I admit the tapping sound from my shoes on our century old steps signal my brain it’s time to write. By the time I climb the stairs to my writing nook, I’m ready for my fingertips to do the tapping instead of my shoes. (A subject covered in Rebecca Livermore’s, Blogger’s Quick Guide to Writing Rituals and Routines.)

Do you thrive with structure or do you prefer a looser approach to your day? I love how God uses us all. Can you imagine how boring it would be if we all enjoyed hearing the tapping of our shoes on wooden steps? 

Most of life is routine — dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you’ll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street. – Ben Nicholas

Sunday Snippets – I Love God, But Others?

Our focus on Summit’s core values continued yesterday. Below are snippets from Kyle’s compelling sermon on the value of biblical community. I encourage you to visit Summit’s site to hear the sermon in its entirety. 

Matthew 22:34-40

His religious audience knew from Deuteronomy 6:4 that they were to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind—but others? Jesus ushers in a radical change when He commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

  • We have little to do with who moves in next door, works in the cubicle close by, or beats us to the Target cash register after a long day at work — but that’s Jesus’ point. We’re not only to love those who look like us, smell like us, or talk like us — but everyone. God has placed us where we are for divine possibilities. 
  • “Jesus makes it very clear that spiritual formation is about relationships. Relationships with God and with others.” – Scott McKnight, The Jesus Creed
  • Jesus would pay the price on our behalf so that selfishness could be put to death. We are empowered by God’s Spirit to live a new life with wholehearted devotion, freeing us to follow hard after God. By God’s grace, we can know Him, love Him, and love others in a way that He desires. Awaken these desires within us!

In response:

1. We need to actually live connected.

think we’ve chosen our friends, and in reality, a few years of
difference and dates of our birth, a few more miles, the choice of one
school rather than another, any of these chances might have kept friends
apart. But for Christians, there’s strictly no speaking of chances. A
secret master of ceremonies has been at work in your life. Christ who
said to his disciples, “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you,”
can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “You have not chosen
one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” At this feast, it
is he who has spread the board, and it is he who has chosen the guest
list. It is he who sometimes does and always should preside. Let us not
forget our host as we eat.”

-C.S. Lewis

2. Resist isolation. Does our commitment to biblical community reflect God’s commitment to community? We’re not talking about church attendance but living connected to those who God will use to shape us into being more like Christ. 

3. Live for one another. 

“In many cases, we may, by the rules of the gospel, be
obliged to give to others when we cannot do it without suffering
ourselves…If our neighbor’s difficulties and necessities be much greater
than our own, and we see that he is not like to be otherwise relieved,
we should be willing to suffer with him, and to take part of his burden
on ourselves; else how is that rule of bearing one another’s burdens
fulfilled? If we are never obliged to relieve others’ burdens, but when we can
do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbor’s
burdens, when we bear no burden at all?” [Jonathan Edwards, Christian Charity, The Works of Jonathan Edwards]

Because people matter to God, they matter to us.

What “neighbor” will God place on our paths this week to love as Christ loves us? Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear so that we might put the Gospel on display.


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