Maybe we need a ritual or two

You forget how new our country is until you walk in another.

You forget that Christianity is a new religion and others came before it still taking root in this land called holy.

We visited many churches in Israel, walking through in a daily stream of tourist, some kneeling, many lighting candles, most of us just trying to take it all in.

These aren’t like the churches I’ve known. The brass lanterns strung throughout in no particular fashion looking more like a closeout sale of Pier I and surely those kind of thoughts are why we Americans aren’t liked so much.

Church of the Nativity Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity Bethlehem

Holy Land Tour  claims of being on the site of the birth of Christ



The stained glass, the frescos and mosaics are beautiful but I don’t get the robes and the crown and swinging another brass thing holding incense and honestly, I don’t get the rituals at all.

The candles are lovely and I saw a mom showing her young son how to put the candle in the sand, to stand it up and push it deep so it would stand. It’s one more ritual I don’t understand.



Holy Land Tour


Holy Land Tour



Holy Land Tour  claims of being on the site of the birth of Christ


boy lighting candles

For years I was uncomfortable with the thought of the mysteries of God. I was certain we were to know him and there was to be no mystery. Everything clear. Understood. But now, older and maybe wiser, or at least knowing how can I understand a God who loves me beyond reason? The mysteries of God, yes, I embrace and am thankful for that which I receive but do not understand.

I gave one of the men a small carved fish with the words Jesus on it. I pushed it in his hand, the first day he was back from a relapse. I said, “do you see what it says?” He took his glasses off of his shirt, a ragged T-shirt all he had now. I told him, “It says Jesus. Keep that in your hand. Hold on to it and when things get rough, feel that in your hand and know it says Jesus.”

Maybe we need a ritual or two. If an action, a motion, can turn my thoughts to my Savior, isn’t that good? Isn’t that what he wants? To think on him when things are good, when they are bad, when we are lost and when we know we are found?

He has this way, this God who can be found everywhere. He has this way to get my attention and turn it around on me. To take something that seems silly and empty and make me realize if the heart is right there is purpose in the action.

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