I saw the strangest thing this evening. Three teenage boys were running back and forth across a busy highway in between rapidly moving cars. I am not sure what kind of male ritual this was. Were they trying to prove to each other how courageous they could be? I do know they were upsetting a lot of drivers.

Despite their foolishness rituals are very important. For as long as we have recorded history people have celebrated passages of life with rituals. Births, transition through adolescence, graduations, weddings, memberships in organizations and deaths – each have a culturally prescribed way of marking its importance in our lives. From them we learn the values and history of our heritage. Sorry is the nation that has become so scientifically oriented that it has forgotten the spiritual importance of ceremony.

Rituals are more than decorations or occasions for family to gather. Rituals are mental milestones enabling people to evolve to a new stage in life. Rituals instill values and respect generated from the experience of others. Thus it was that Jesus submitted Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist. He had no need for cleansing from sin. He did have a need to prepare Himself for His ministry to follow. So often we think of Jesus’ divine nature and forget He was also human and had needs just like each of us.

Matthew 21:18, “Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on July 23, 2002
Spring of Life, 151 Old Farm Rd. Leominster, MA 01453.