Sunday, March 22, 2015

On Liturgy in the Home

It was Christmas morning and we were not happy to be around the tree.  I was an early teen and the details of the dissension are fuzzy, but the pall was palpable.  Whether it was sibling squabbles, work and school stress or something else, I only remember that my family could not bear to look at each other, much less celebrate Christ's birth together.  It seemed as if the tension would never end, but then my mom yelled that if we wanted to have Christmas, first we were all going to look each other individually in the face, tell the person that we loved them and give them a hug.  By the end we were all crying.  We each started with the easy person, the one that hadn't been giving us problems.  Some of the tears were a release of tension and some of them were because it was so hard to look at a person who had wounded you and forgive them.  In order to honestly tell someone's eyes that you love them, you have to forgive them.  To this day, it was one of the most difficult acts of will and obedience I've done, but mom was right and we went on to have Christmas with clean hearts.  That morning, we learned the hard way that Jesus came for our reconciliation with each other as well as with God.

It is a lesson that I try to remember.  After ten years of marriage and some near disasters, my husband and I have learned the importance of clean hearts.  If we have a problem with each other, we are usually able to discuss it within 24 hours.  Stuffing annoyances, hurts and worries only causes blow-ups months later for us.

But now I'm the mom of the siblings who are very different, who hurt each other and who tend to fight.  I'm the mom who tends to yell and struggles with her own anger.  The circle is back around the Christmas tree and I don't want to reach that point in my own family.

So, after listening to this compelling talk by Jenny Rallens, I started thinking about using some form of liturgy in our homeschool to encourage clean hearts toward one another.  My disclaimer: My faith background is solidly evangelical protestant and I've never given much thought to liturgy at all.  I have Catholic friends that I deeply love and I've attended a few masses, but liturgy, those forms of public worship, weren't on my radar.  Jenny Rallens used liturgy to encourage public reconciliation in her classroom at a classical Christian school and I pulled a few ideas from her talk.

What does this look like for us?  First, we all like candles, so we light a candle before we start our homeschool day and pray that the light of Jesus would be present with us and that we would be lights of Christ to one another.  (The kids take turns blowing it out when the day is done.)  Then, at lunch and after a sometimes fraught homeschooling morning, we first confess.  I always start and confess if I have sinned against any of them.  We do try and ask each other's forgiveness for issues as we walk through the day, but sometimes the Holy Spirit reveals something at this time that we didn't see or were unable to confess in the heat of the moment.  Sometimes I have to coach the kids and remind them of issues that need to be resolved.  After confession, we greet each other with a hug or a kiss of peace.  The two older kids tend to give each other backwards hugs.  I'm not sure what started this except maybe it was their way of "obeying," but not quite.  Finally, we tell each other something that we are grateful for about each other.  That is about it.  (It has been nice to have a few moments where we have something else to talk about rather than me constantly trying to keep them from interjecting bathroom humor at the table.)

We haven't been doing it long, but I'm praying that these practices will create habits of confession, reconciliation and gratitude.  I probably need them most of all.     

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