Repetition and Meaning

We resist repetition. Those in the marketing business figured this out long ago. So, they continually assist us in fleeing repetition by offering us the next big thing, variety, change.

This formula keeps working, because most of what we consume in this constant diet of change does not satisfy. In fact, it leads to increased restlessness and boredom. What this ought to reveal to us is that we do not fight boredom with constant change.

This insatiable desire to flee boredom has infected the worship of many churches. The objection “It’s boring,” is a common complaint. Actually, the issue is not that worship is boring. The issue which ought to be confronted in those who voice this complaint is why should the church become an accomplice in your restless efforts to relieve yourself of boredom?

All life is repetition. Daily life is made up of all kinds of repetitive patterns, habits, and rituals. We address boredom not by mindlessly chasing the new, but by investing meaning into repetition. If you cannot see the depth of meaning and value in the little repetitions, the little liturgies of daily life, do not expect meaning to result from your efforts to run from them.

My grandmother, Ruth, started each day by spending time with her Bible. This was something she practiced all of her life. After her time with the Scriptures, she went on with her day. The activities she had planned rarely changed: shopping on one day, laundry on another and so forth. I lived with her for a time after my grandfather died. She never struck me as someone who was bored with the ordered life she lived. In the simple, repetitive tasks of daily living, she saw greater meaning. Her life was tuned to the Word of God and she met each day anticipating that Word from Him whose mercy makes all things new.

Published by Pastor Mark Anderson

Lutheran pastor, husband, dad, archaeology nut, serious blues guitarist and aspiring luthier.

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