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Ritual, Rhythm and other lessons from other Faiths.

9 May, 2003 11:32 AM

Most of you will know by now that I'm doing a subject at bible college at the moment on Multi faith Dialogue. (hence my posting on Lesson from a Buddhist Nun, Jihad, Muslim Blogisphere and Interfaith Dialogue...to name a few recent 'multi faith' posts.

This morning I've been reflecting upon the experiences that I've had in visiting a Mosque, Buddhist temple, Synagogue and Hari Krishna temple and having one on one conversation with a Melbourne Muslim man. Its been an amazing experience, one in which I feel like I've had my eyes opened incredibly.

One of the main differences I've noticed between Christianity and these other faiths is the level that we connect faith to the every day of life. (forgive me for the gross generalisations I'm about to make!)

After each of the above inter faith experiences I've come home challenged by the way that there are inbuilt rituals built into the every day activities for those practicing these religions. For Bilal (a Muslim man I interviewed) it revolved around the 5 daily prayers, the dietary regulations and the visits to the Mosque. For the Jewish student rabbi we met yesterday it was the three daily prayer times, the cap he wears, the way he prepares food and the different aspects of his clothing, for the Hari Krishna we met it was the food that he ate and the various prayer times throughout his day and for the Buddhist Nun it again was her food preparation, regular meditation times and dress.

In each case there were tangible, rituals or symbols throughout every day that meant that their spirituality was constantly being explored, stretched, developed and exercised. In each case a rhythm of life was being lived out that allowed regular connection with God. At times the rituals were incredibly sacrificial and showed extreme commitment but in every case the person sharing told of how their ritual brought incredible richness to their faith.

Before I go on I need to say that in some (although definitely not all) of the above cases we were talking to leaders and people who perhaps took their faith to the extreme where as some of the people they worked with did not - but none the less I was still impressed and challenged by their commitment.

I have been a member of three churches in my life time and a minister/pastor in each of them. Yet to be honest I've never seen faith related to every day life to the extent that I did in these other religions in any of my churches. That's not to say that I haven't seen Christians living out their faith in the everyday, rather I have not seen a church give their members practical ways to encourage them to find Jesus in the nitty gritty of life. Its often talked about as being the ideal, but practical tools, rituals and methods are rarely suggested.

As protestants has our fear of ritual actually gone too far and been part of the reason that so many of those that attend our churches find it so hard to live out what they hear and do on Sunday in the rest of their lives? Where are the tools that help us explore our connection with Jesus from Monday through to Saturday? Why have we watered down faith and thrown out so much of our rich heritage of ritual such as the practices of those such as the early monastic tradition who sought to create a rhythm of live connects faith to every day experience through methods like



Good thoughts...

Laura » 9 May, 2003 11:32 PM

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