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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Bodies

Even for shy people, movements, gestures, postures play a part in worship

One week after Easter Day we come to the amazing story of Jesus and Thomas (John 20:19-31). This year I’m captivated by the physicality of it because I’ve been thinking about bodies.

Shy Lutherans often balk when it comes to talking about such things. We bow our heads and divert our eyes. But you can hardly escape it when you read this Gospel: Thomas wants to see the risen Lord. And Jesus invites him to touch his body. And note this well: The risen Christ’s body is wounded, the flesh is torn, the scars remain. Consider the enormous meaning as we stand in the glow of the Resurrection and proclaim: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”

Bodies are important in worship too: standing, sitting, kneeling, eating, smelling, drinking, bowing, touching, washing, seeing. Since these activities and postures are second nature to those of us who’ve worshiped for a long time, it’s good to ponder: “Why do we do these things?”

We stand to sing if for no other reason than we sing better when standing. We stand to greet Jesus as he comes in the proclamation of the Gospel and its parallel, the praying and proclaiming of the eucharistic prayer. We often stand to receive the gifts of Christ’s presence in bread and wine and as we receive God’s benediction and depart.


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