Do you have a ritual? Many of us do. Our morning ritual consists of the various things that we do to clean ourselves up, refresh our minds and prepare our unwilling hearts to go to work. For some of us, coffee will fit into our morning rituals. After work, some of us head out to the pub for a drink. Some of us need to be left alone with our music for a time, before ‘resuming normal service’. Rituals determine the rhythms of our lives at every point. But why do we perform rituals? Why do we not get a sense of ease until we have dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s?

Whether or not you believe you are a creature of habit, rituals have their place in our lives. In the past, to get right with God, there were rituals.

“A large outer tent was set up. The lampstand, the table, and “the bread of presence” were placed in it. This was called “the Holy Place.” Then a curtain was stretched, and behind it a smaller, inside tent set up. This was called “the Holy of Holies.” In it were placed the gold incense altar and the gold-covered ark of the covenant containing the gold urn of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, the covenant tablets, and the angel-wing-shadowed mercy seat.” Hebrews 9:2-5 [MSG]

“After this was set up, the priests went about their duties in the large tent. Only the high priest entered the smaller, inside tent, and then only once a year, offering a blood sacrifice for his own sins and the people’s accumulated sins.” Hebrews 9:6-7 [MSG]

In fact, pretty much the entire book of Leviticus was written to detail for us the rituals that were to be observed for the cleansing of the people from their various sins. And it was comprehensive. These rituals had their place because there was once when man said this in response to God.

“Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Exodus 19:8

“All the people spoke at the same time and said, “We will obey everything the Lord says.” Exodus 19:8[GW]

It is a bit like how the rich young ruler responded to Jesus,

“Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”” Luke 18:18

And the lawyer too,

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”” Luke 10:25

Because they wanted to do it themselves, earn their place in the good graces of our Father, these rituals were put in place. This was the old way, the old covenant.

Now, do not be mistaken. These rituals are meaningful and they are valuable. But they are just signs and symbols of something greater. In fact, the Bible says that

“This was the Holy Spirit’s way of showing with a visible parable that as long as the large tent stands, people can’t just walk in on God. Under this system, the gifts and sacrifices can’t really get to the heart of the matter, can’t assuage the conscience of the people, but are limited to matters of ritual and behavior. It’s essentially a temporary arrangement until a complete overhaul could be made.” Hebrews 9:8-10 [MSG]
This therefore implies that there is a new way; and this is it.

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28

Believing and partaking of the blood of Christ is now the new way into the good graces of our Father. Now, some people point to this and call Christians vampires. Not at the least, beloved, because we are not called to go out and find blood to drink. In fact, the apostles had a revelation that they should tell the believers this,

“Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” Acts 15:19-20

So what does it mean to partake of the blood of Christ? It simply means this.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26

You remember what Christ did that night when He was betrayed. You remember the ritual He instituted for us to practice so that we can remind ourselves of what He has done on the cross for us. And you declare to those around, and more importantly, to yourself, the foundation of your belief. But that is all it is, a ritual, a symbol, a reminder.

Now, because of the new way, because of the new covenant Christ came to bring, because of His death on the cross and His blood spilt, though rituals still have their place,

“But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.” Hebrews 9:11-15 [MSG]

Jesus made them less important. And this is why.

“Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.” Hebrews 9:16-17 [MSG]

Beloved, whatever rituals we perform, be it praying 5 times a day, or taking communion with the best port or the most pure of unleavened bread, understand that the prayers, the port and the bread are not the things that get you into our Father’s good books. It is the fact that Jesus died for your sins and you believe it. That is the thing that has already made you pleasing to our Father. For remember,

“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”” John 6:29

Perform the rituals, take communion, use anointing oil, because it reminds you that Jesus died for you, because it reminds you that you are eternally forgiven, because it reminds you that our Father loves you and has given you power to overcome all things in this world, as it is written,

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5

But don’t get so caught up that you worry that communion with white bread from your local baker will be less effective than unleavened bread bought from the Christian store. Quite honestly, you may probably end up getting more nutrients in the natural from your local white bread than you would from elements that were pre-packed months ago.

Focus, beloved, on what is the true meaning and purpose of those rituals; and do them in so far as they help you remember that our Father loves you, cares for you and wants nothing but the best for you; and remember that it is not the item that holds power. Power comes from our Father, from Jesus, and it is unlocked by your faith in Them.

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