Friday, 24 August 2012

Eternity in the Hearts of Men, The Human Need For Ritual

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecc 3:11

You may have heard the expression, "...a God shaped hole in every human heart." This colloquialism is a reflection of exactly this verse from Ecclesiastes. God has built into every one of us a desire to find Him. It is a desire that can only be satisfied by Him; by His Holy Spirit. As Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote in his, "Confessions";

Our hearts are restless until they rest in You

If only people could realize this. Instead they attempt to satisfy this God-given vacuum in any number of different, yet ineffective ways. Without this rest spoken of by Augustine, we have a natural propensity to seek ritual. Ritual must be an attempt to satisfy this longing for God that he Himself has planted within us. But ritual never satisfies, at least not for long. Not permanently. If ritual is merely meaningless, for the sake only of itself, merely to make its performers feel good, or fulfilled, then it must be repeated over and over again. Like a drug, once the initial euphoria has receded, a new fix is craved. And like a drug, the one addicted to these rituals must create ever more elaborate ones.

From here...
...[a]Service of Light was celebrated. Clergy, servers and lay representatives gathered around the Altar and in a brief yet moving liturgy 8 candles were lit signifying: light in the face of fear, light in the face of violence, light in an age of AIDS, hope, healing, courage, community and resurrection.
It is as if the entire, or at least the most important point was that the liturgy was moving. If it was moving it accomplished its purpose. Whether it actually had anything to do with Christ or the historic Christain faith was irrelevant.

"What about the Eucharist?" you may ask, "Isn't that a ritual?" Well, yes, I suppose it is. But it is a ritual commanded by Christ himself. And it is a ritual that is directed at God, so it is a ritual that actually participates in the satisfaction of our spiritual hunger legitimately.

But back to the article - another quote:
 ...when we don’t have the words or don’t know how to pray, a small candle burning brightly expresses our prayer that is always with us –and becomes more powerful with each candle lit.”
Perhaps I read too much into this quote, but it's almost as if they had never read Romans 8;
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Rom 8:26-27)
A small candle burning brightly is supposed to replace the Holy Spirit? Please!

These are probably the same people who go around setting up roadside monuments.

Take Care

h/t Anglican Samizdat



Anonymous said...

"These are probably the same people who go around setting up roadside monuments."

Do you mean the memorial middens of the late 20th century? Or the roadside shrines of Eastern Orthodox lands? There is a difference, you know.

John K said...

I mean the ones with plastic flowers and soot-covered teddy bears, whichever ones those are.