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.