In polite conversation there are some things we are not supposed to talk about (ask: sex, money, religion, politics) In the church it seems we're not allowed to talk about any of those; PLUS we're not supposed to talk about bodies.....that's private, personal, etc.
Our Nehemiah reading is from a time when God's people had come back to their homeland following the Exile....they had spend years trying to rebuild their city, the city walls especially, and eventually rebuilding the temple. And like all major faith projects, this one came with lots of conflict! They argued about the vision, they argued about what God would want, they argued about who was in and who was out. Hmmm.
What had happened is they'd lost touch with God's word in scripture. Some of them had spend years without access to their Bible.
Can you imagine what that might be like?
For some of you that might be no big deal, you're not big on the Bible anyway; for others you can't imagine being without scripture to draw on.....like people listening to Ezra, we suddenly realise that God actually can speak to us through ancient texts as well as modern preachers! The Bible really is a treasure—for many, as we sang, wonderful words of life!!
Remember these people had no libraries, no Ipads, no radio or TV.....no way to access what their faith history had to offer. And unlike us, their attention span was much longer...they could stand all day listening to Ezra read from the bible.
They stood, listening with their ears, watching with their eyes, lifting their hands, then responding with tears, bowed heads, and repeated Amens....
And here we sit, passive, unmoving, barely engaging our bodies in this thing called worship.
Instead of engaging, we multitask....we sing a hymn and make a shopping list in our heads...
our mouths do one thing, our mind another
And not just in worship:
We talk on the phone, while typing on the computer....our ears listen to one thing while our fingers do something else
we compartmentalize our bodies, never really fully attentive to this moment now.
What does your body do
when your ears hear something....?
when your mouth sings a hymn?
when your heart breaks?
when your mind is guilty?
These ancestors in our faith engaged ALL of themselves in this worship experience. And I wonder, do I? Do you? Do we let tears of hurt or guilt flow
do we let our arms raise in offering or praise?
Do we let our bodies sway or our feet tap like our children still do? What happened to us, when we “grew up”?
When are we ever integrated?
How we feel, affects how we move. How we move, reveals how we feel. Eg. Crossed arms vs. open hands, coming to communion to 'receive' or 'take'
Our bodies reveal who we think WE are.
Today we are talking about bodies, real live human, ordinary, sexual bodies....in worship. Tut tut!
But we're not just talking about our bodies here:
Our Nehemiah reading talks about using our WHOLE selves in worship, then I Corinthians talks about our whole selves as part or a LARGER body....God's body here on earth.
Paul says WE are the body of God on earth, the only body God has...the only feet God has, the only brain god has the only hands or heart or kidney or bladder or knees God has on earth.....
We need to play our part in that body...with our bodies and as the body....we need each other; to paraphrase Barney: I need you, you need me...
I just spent 24 hrs with 9 teens and 5 other adults at our 8th grade confirmation retreat at Camp Asbury. The Corinthian reading about being part of the body was central to our time together
During noon time prayer, Mark read the Corinthian text aloud while we listened, and here's what struck me (from The Message)
Each person is given something to do that shows who God is...
We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life....
“Who God is”; we're always thinking about who WE are, but as part of the body we're really about who God is.
what is your body part? What role do you play to ensure that God's love and light shines in the world you live in?
Is it the God within who sets your feet to tapping, or your hands to open, or your tears to flow? Or are we still “calling our own shots”?
How does YOUR body show who God is? In worship? At home? At school? At work?
May our bodies reflect who God is, here, now, and beyond these walls …