I’ve read some things recently about recovering rituals, especially in the liturgy of Christian worship. One resource in particular argues for the importance of liturgy due to its power to effect us pre-cognitively (which is not my preferred nomenclature). The idea is that some things we do repeatedly get into our guts, and that supposedly has greater stickiness than hearing or meditating on a sentence.
As a church we have tasted the goodness of some things we don’t always, or perhaps can’t perfectly, define. But there’s no reason that mind and body can’t work in harmony. There’s no reason that contemplation and conduct have to compete.
Even at the Lord’s Table, we partake weekly, corporately, and bodily. But we are not just going through the motions, chewing our bread mindlessly. We come and share and we know what we’re doing.
There is history (the name of Jesus, the night He was betrayed, His blood and His death), there is theology (atonement “for you,” “new covenant” with you), there is mission (proclaim His death until He comes). There is gratitude, there is faith, there is obedience.
So Jesus said Do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). Do, as in eat and drink, which is more than mental exercise. It is liturgy, it is embodied, it is embedded in our practice.
There is ritual in it, but the ritual is to remember, not a substitute for remembering. We remember the Son of God, we remember the sacrifice of the Son for our sins and God’s wrath against us satisfied, we remember the exchange of His righteousness to our account, we remember His love.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).