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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Living ritual

In basketball & worship, don't miss the routine

Every so often (and quite by accident) my “channel surfing” brings me to a basketball game. I know precious little about the mysteries of this sport, but I’m in awe of one part: the amazing ability to shoot free throws.

I’ve heard that many players start free-throw shooting in the seventh grade. The coach lines the kids up, explains the mechanics and drills them so by the ninth grade they can concentrate on heavy-duty free-throw shooting. Bounce the ball the same way each time. Keep your elbow tight each time. Follow through with a backward spin on the ball each time.

Seventh-graders must find it tedious. But if they repeat the routine, they’re ready when the big chance comes. If the player does what the coach says and sticks with the tried-and-true routine, it works.

Ritual gets a bad rap from many, but it works.

In the church year, Feb. 2 is the Presentation of Our Lord. It’s rarely celebrated, even if it falls on a Sunday. But consider this event (Luke 2:22-40).


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November issue

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