The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



Handle them with care in life and liturgy

Hands speak. Even when our mouths are silent and our lips are sealed, our hands tell others how we’re feeling.

Hands are clenched into fists, showing anger. Or they’re clammy, with fidgeting fingers, giving away how nervous we are. They touch another person softly, whispering of love and care. They sting another with a slap, spitting venom. I’m always captivated when I watch people speaking sign language, but it’s true of all of us: Without hands it’s difficult to talk.

Our spirits aren’t disembodied—body and soul are one. What happens with our hands happens in our hearts and in our heads. Like fingertips reading Braille, we rub our temples in fatigue, we pat each other on the back to congratulate or reassure, we clasp hands to bid welcome or farewell, we touch to diagnose and to heal. Community is created when we join hands, when we share peace, when the advantaged give the disadvantaged a little help.

Maybe this is why God uses human hands in liturgy. We are living out the promise of Pentecost in our lives. And for hundreds of years the church has claimed that the Spirit works through human hands.

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