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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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After church?

If they'd go dancing out the door of the sanctuary, then Cynthia Winton-Henry would know for sure that parishioners who participate in "bodyspirit" worship — like the service she and partner Phil Porter led recently at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Oak Park, Ill. — got the message. The body is basic.

"Our primary connection between worship and the outside world is the body," reminds the co-founder of Body Wisdom Inc. "We are 'the body of Christ.' When we forget that, when we live only in our minds and remain isolated from our bodies, we live, she says, a heretical faith. "So many stories of Jesus tell about spirit and body together," she adds.
"Our primary connection between worship and the outside world is the body," reminds the co-founder of Body Wisdom Inc. "We are 'the body of Christ.' When we forget that, when we live only in our minds and remain isolated from our bodies, we live, she says, a heretical faith. "So many stories of Jesus tell about spirit and body together," she adds.

We need to be whole, reintegrated, Winton-Henry says, to experience grace — that's different from knowing it as an idea. She traces the problem to the dualistic notion Christianity inherited from the Greeks with the higher self of mind being separate from the lower self of body.

Obviously it's not possible to understand all this using just words. So try this exercise. Winton-Henry calls it a "hand dance":

1. Stick your hand straight out in front of you.
2. Move it around smoothly for 10 seconds.
3. Move it around jerkily for 10 seconds.
4. Hold it still for 10 seconds.
5. Let it move around as it wants to for 40 seconds.

Most people find this weird at first, she says. But it can be a beginning to wordless understanding and expression. She says the hand dance can even become a dance on behalf of someone you care about or are concerned about, including yourself, when you move your hand to give expression to your thoughts. It's a way to release tensions — and to pray.


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