I’m in an interesting phase of life and faith. My year of being a theology professor is over and I have many reflections that I am processing – both about evangelicalism and about the academy.
Now I am pastoring again, but this time in a wildly liberal post-christian context where I am attempting to do at least two things at the same time:
- reach out to non-believing and post-evangelical folks in a compelling way with an invitation to a mature, complex, nuanced approach to faith.
- cultivate a vibrant and vital faith in my current congregation.
Focusing on these two things has resulted in a re/turn to two elements that have been dominating my thoughts: the body and the bible.
Below is a post about bodies that I wrote to prepare for church this past Sunday. The person who leads our ‘spiritual practices’ ministry was at the table as my conversation partner. Later today I will send one about the bible that I could use some help with.
Our bodies matter. Bodies are key for what gets called spirituality in general and specifically bodies matter in christian worship.
Many people have not thought about it directly but the central story of the entire christian faith is the Christmas story – as story about god becoming embodied. The word (wisdom of god) became flesh and dwelt among us.
Unfortunately for many in the 19th and 20th century, religion and faith became about what you believe and what you think. It became a mental or intellectual enterprise. For others, religion became about feelings and experience – it changed into a purely heart thing.
The good news is that both the brain and the heart are part of the body! This is wonderful because when we talk about ‘practices of faith’ or ’embodied belief’ it does not discount the head and the heart ~ it includes and transcends them.
Faith is a whole body activity.
Our bodies matter. They matter to our experience of being human and they matter to our expression of faith.
Our bodies matter to God ~ and the divine is embodied in our practices of faith.
In fact, as Methodists our entire history is built around a series of these embodied practices called ‘methods’. It is literally where we got our name from! Now unfortunately, much of this has been lost over time. It is time to have a conversation about why bodies matter and why the practices of faith are not just a head or a heart issue but a full-bodied experience.