We humans often show ourselves to be creatures of rhythm and habits. Some habits run amok and become enslaving addictions. Some habits serve us well and become powerful tools for health and growth. It pays to stay aware of our habits, to extinguish those that don't help and cultivate those that do and modify still others.
Habits don't just guide our personal lives, they guide society as well. Football gets scheduled for high schools on Friday nights, for college on Saturdays, and for professionals on Sundays. Exceptions exist, but that's the conventional rhythm.
This morning my email box was filled with "reminders" that today is "Giving Tuesday." That comes on the heels of "Cyber Monday" and "Black Friday" that follows "Thanksgiving." What about Saturday and Sunday? Those belong to football, I guess.
My point is that our world has "secular liturgies" that easily govern our lives. Some prove helpful, some harmful, some delightful and others seem just inane. At the very least we might stay aware of them, and where appropriate substitute rhythms that draw us to Christ. Traditional Christians have found that a season of Advent leading to celebration of the birth of Christ helps them do just that.
The ancient Jewish exile Daniel comes to mind as I consider the rhythms and habits of my life: food and exercise, sleep and service, play and purchasing, solitudes and friendships, study and prayer. Daniel recognized the unusual pressures that Babylonian liturgies placed on his life. He found freedom in sacred habits that cultivated his devotion to the God of Israel. He did this amid the challenges and intrigue of the imperial bureaucracy.
Daniel kept "office hours" with God, even when the empire forbade it (Daniel 6:10-11): "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help."
Pastor Jim Byrne
The faithful presence