Meaning in the Moment

How Rituals Help Us Move through Joy, Pain, and Everything in Between

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Life has its ups and downs, and it can feel like we're always in the middle of a transition.

Whether it's a painful end or a joyful beginning--or even an uncertain middle--theologian and minister Amy Davis Abdallah has found something that helps: rituals. In Meaning in the Moment, she shows why we need rituals to help survive and even thrive through various seasons of life.

Starting with the foundation that rituals are a core, and underexplored, part of Christian practice, Davis Abdallah draws from theology, psychology, and personal experiences in creating rituals for herself and others. She offers practical guidance for readers to create their own meaningful rituals, including three types requiring varying levels of planning and participation: right now, with friends, and at church.

Readers will emerge with fresh ways to bring their faith to life for themselves, their families, and their church communities--and ready to experience the transformative power of rituals. The book includes a foreword by W. David O. Taylor.


Introduction: Ritual Matters
Part 1: Why Do We Ritualize?
1. Ritual Transforms and Embodies
2. You Already Ritualize (You Just Don't Call It That)
3. How Rituals Help and Unite Us
Part 2: How Do We Ritualize?
4. Avoiding Powerless Rituals: Ritual "Don'ts"
5. Pursuing Powerful Rituals
Part 3: What Do We Ritualize?
6. Ends
7. Middles
8. Beginnings
Conclusion: Making Ritual Matter
Appendix: Exploring Our Sources


"Amy F. Davis Abdallah gives us a feast of ritual thinking and actual rituals to ponder and practice. The suggested practices (my favorite parts of the book) give embodied access to the ritual ideas explored throughout. This makes Meaning in the Moment truly unique. This is not just a book about rituals; it helps us navigate our ritualed world with a trustworthy guide."

Dru Johnson, author of Human Rites and Knowledge by Ritual

"If life's transitions find you confused, discouraged, and stuck, this is your book! Meaning in the Moment recovers the power of Christian ceremonies and rituals in bringing clarity and renewal."

Mimi Haddad, president, Christians for Biblical Equality International

"Davis Abdallah gives us the permission we never knew we needed to create rituals for the mundane and the extraordinary moments in our lives. Davis Abdallah helps us see that rituals offer us a pathway toward the intimacy we want to see in our communities, with God, and with ourselves. Practicing rituals helps us pay attention to new beginnings, liminal middles, and transitional ends that we would otherwise pass by. This book is a generous gift to all meaning-makers who want to guide their fellow journeyers toward an embodied life with the Divine."

Julie Tai, director of chapel and community worship, Fuller Theological Seminary; cofounder, Kinship Commons

"Meaning in the Moment is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to find comfort, guidance, and meaning during transition. I've seen firsthand how these rituals brought healing to hundreds of students. Davis Abdallah offers the reader meaningful tools for creating rituals that help us process loss, move through life's challenges with grace, and celebrate the good. This book will serve as a guide for those who desire to implement rituals into their relationships and communities in order to find healing together, which is especially critical in our post-pandemic world."

Wanda Velez, vice president for student development and dean of students, Alliance University

"Rituals do matter. In Meaning in the Moment, Amy F. Davis Abdallah thoughtfully reflects on the active experience and form of ritual. She invites us into her formation and journey of ritual. Reading this text is itself a ritual as Davis Abdallah pastors us through life's transitions from end to middle and beginning. Davis Abdallah helps the reader frame and form rituals that are deeply personal and highly liturgical."

Charles O. Galbreath, senior pastor, Alliance Tabernacle, Brooklyn; associate dean, Alliance Theological Seminary

"Amy Davis Abdallah has given Christians a beautiful gift in inviting us into the transformative power of rituals in all of life. While acknowledging the vital role of rituals in corporate worship, she opens the door to how meaningful rituals can stimulate personal growth as well. She not only explains the benefits of creating rituals but also gives practical examples and models for picking up this spiritual discipline to the benefit of our souls. Her work is clearly written and impassioned from years of experience. Anyone will benefit from this book."

Constance M. Cherry, professor emeritus of worship and pastoral ministries, Indiana Wesleyan University; professor, Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies

The Author

  1. Amy F. Davis Abdallah
    Andres Valenzuela Photography

    Amy F. Davis Abdallah

    Amy F. Davis Abdallah (PhD, Drew University) is professor of practical theology and worship at Alliance University and is a professor at the Institute for Worship Studies. She is the founder and director of Woman: Rite of Passage, the author of The...

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