Originally Written for Living Compass and posted at: http://livingwellwithlivingcompass.com/2015/04/02/the-importance-of-rituals-a-reflection-for-maundy-thursday/
To be resilient is to be flexible, strong in spirit, and grounded in your life and faith. On Maundy Thursday, we see Jesus practicing and teaching resilience as he performed acts of love in the washing of feet and the sharing of bread and wine. As he washed the disciples’ feet and breaks bread with them, he is teaching them, once again, the power of ritual, community, and love.
Ritual gives us something to turn to when life becomes overwhelming or difficult. As we practice ritual in community, we become more resilient. When we engage in rituals of love — such as saying grace before meals, sharing a meal with friends, or saying the Lord’s Prayer together in a time of need — even the most difficult days become holy and life-giving. As Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and shares a meal with them, Jesus grounds the community in loving rituals that help them become resilient to all that is to come, not only in the next three days, but long into the future. We have seen examples of this today as we watch faith communities gather around places torn by violence and conflict as they offer prayer, love, and ritual to their surrounding community in times of strife. In these rituals, people take the next step forward, and together they become more resilient, stronger, and more grounded. Even when communities are in conflict or disagreement, they can still come together to share a meal, and particular the Eucharist.
When we are surrounded by stress or conflict, as Jesus was on Maundy Thursday, loving ritual and community provide comfort. We see how to love one another and live together. We recognize that we are not alone, that God is with us. Ritual and community center us and provides meaning. Life is not about the present crisis or the present stress, but about being with the divine and with one another. Ritual calls us to that community and grounds us, giving us resiliences to face water the world gives us.
On this day when Christians remember Jesus instituting the loving rituals of foot-washing and sharing the bread and wine, what ritual acts do we practice? How do these rituals make us more resilient, strong in spirit, and grounded in our life and faith?