As was his custom

This may sound redundant, but believe me, it is not: I am a Type A creature of habit.  I find days in which my routine is changed to be supremely challenging.  Take Christmas Eve as an example.  It is the Super Bowl of Christian Feast Days, but the schedule isn’t right.  When I preach, I wake up at 5 am, arrive at the church by 6:30, spend 30 minutes in the pulpit before anyone arrives, so as not to be disturbed, then preach three times: 7:30, 9, and 10:45, and God willing, take a nap by 1pm.  On Christmas Eve, our first service starts at 5:30pm, there is a three-hour break before the next one, during which I eat dinner, and God willing, I’m in bed by 1:30am.  If Manti T’eo broke the internet, then Christmas Eve breaks me. every. single. year.

It is with much delight, then, that I read the story of Jesus’ early ministry in Luke 4. I’m particularly fond of the little note that Luke adds in, Jesus “went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom.”  As was his custom!  Oh, how I love custom.  Increasingly, however, custom is falling away.  Perhaps it is the nature of a rapidly change world,  but it seems to me as if many set patterns of life are being fundamentally changed.  Birthday cards are being replaced by Facebook wall posts.  Facebook wall posts are being replaced by Timeline posts.  Sunday morning worship and sabbath is being replaced by work or soccer or Meet the Press or the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.  Physical membership is being replaced by social networks.

Customs no longer carry the cache they once did.  And yet, custom is very important.  I don’t mean the custom of a community, necessarily.  The move from snail mail card to Facebook post doesn’t bother me.  What is important, however, is the habits of one’s life.  Specifically those things that foster the development of love toward God and neighbor.  Jesus had a custom of attending synagogue on the sabbath day.  I have a custom of blogging on Monday through Thursday.  The Church offers customs like: The Daily Office, the Season of Lent, Confession, The Eucharist, and on and on.  What customs you take on for yourself aren’t as important as the act of taking on a custom, a rule of life, if you will, in order to grow in faith and stature.

I’m a creature of habit with a strong Type A personality – custom comes easily to me.  It might not for you, but it is still an important part of the life of faith.  May God give you the ability to create holy habits: today, tomorrow, and for ever more.

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One thought on “As was his custom

  1. Steve, thank you so much for your post.

    This reminds me so much of my mother who often quoted this. I remember her as a “seek ye first” person. I remember thinking there must be some sort of “trumpet call” on Sunday for us to go to church and once played Reveille on the piano to wake my parents up Sunday morning because they were oversleeping. (I had already painted their beautiful car rainbow before this so I don’t think they were as delighted in me). However, they did seem quite pleased with my musical progress and we did arrive at church in time. All through Sunday school and Confirmation classes during childhood we were asked to repeat our “bounden duty as a Christian” which at that time contained the phrase “to worship God every Sunday in His church.”
    We should not worship our customs but customs in our worship do mean so much.
    If we omit too many in order to have worship brief, we can omit customs and prayers that have great meaning to us. I have sometimes worried that our liturgy will be shortened so much that
    there may not be much reason to go to the trouble to attend church to pray. But, then the Blessing at meals is so lonely alone. And yet other times, it seems there is a Communion of Saints at all times and places praying with us. Especially at the Eucharist. Customs-the customs of Jesus-love, obedience to His Father, His seeking His Father’s face. People have sought God’s glory
    through worship of Him. Jesus’ customs were Holy. Sacred. Loving, Forgiving. Healing. Transforming. “TO FOLLOW CHRIST”. CHRIST seeking His Heavenly Father; Obeying His Heavenly Father and THANKS BE TO GOD-JESUS’ CUSTOM OF LOVE, FORGIVENESS. So much healing in the CUSTOMS OF JESUS. I hope so much that you will tell us more of Jesus’ Customs.
    So many customs in liturgy. So much disargeement in how the “work of the people” for God is
    to be carried out. Whether or not to sing the Gloria, Agnus Dei. (I still wish there were Hymnal Preservation Societies). “To follow Christ”. Your post reminds me that to “Follow Christ” involves following His customs and of how dear the “Followers” are who follow the customs of
    Christ. It seems that Jesus always sought his Father, at times alone and in fellowship with other humans. Fond memories of the customs of those who sought to follow the “customs” of
    our Dear, Lord Jesus.

    Forgive my rambling. So much I don’t understand-so much I have to learn. Memories of Trinity Church in Mobile are quite vivid as I type this along
    with the “people of the church”.

    “Jesus whom though veiled, we by faith descry, what Thy people long for, do not Lord deny,
    that thy face, unveiled, we at last shall see with the blissful vision blest, our God of Thee.”
    Amen. (Hymnal 1906, 1940, 1982)

    Jennifer

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