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Friday, August 8, 2014

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Sleep experts say that having a ritual at bedtime is key to getting good rest. Parents know that. From the warm bath, to the story time, to the good-night kiss and the final check for monsters under the bed, we all know that a regular bedtime routine is a huge part of getting the little darlings off to dreamland (or getting the little imps out of our hair so we can watch Colbert in peace—take your pick).
A little order in our often all-too-disordered lives, taking away our strain and stress and striving and leading us to a little bit of peace . . . our little rituals.

I recently attended a funeral where military honors were rendered. There is always sadness at a funeral, even when the release from suffering is clear and merciful. There is sadness, loss, and the sense that the previous order of the world has been overthrown. In the midst of all of this emotion, there is the calm and attentive performance of the ritual of military honors—the evenly measured steps of the honor guard, the polish and crease of the uniforms, every fold of the flag precise and inspected, three crisp rifle volleys, the lone bugler playing Taps, and the presentation of the folded flag “on behalf of the President of the United States and with the thanks of a grateful nation.” Every word, every gesture, all in order. And in that order, there is a silent acknowledgement that in spite of the feeling of disarray the world is in order after all. It’s not chaos. We have dealt with this before. We know what to do.

At the end of everything, there is order. At the end of everything, there is peace. Struggles end, we say good night, and there is rest.

Lord, let our performance of the rituals of the day serve to remind us that in the end, for all of us, there will be your peace. Let us rest in that knowledge and find comfort. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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