Our Bodies as Temples of God

Sermon – January 18 2015

2nd Sunday after Epiphany

By Roland Legge

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20) Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 John 1:43-51 

 

God calls the people we least expect! Can you imagine being Samuel waking up in the night to this voice calling his name?   Now there is old Eli who recognizes this voice as that of God. This must have been challenging for Eli because why would God talk to Samuel rather than him.   The miracle is that Eli was able to humble himself by encouraging Samuel to answer.

Then there is Nathaniel with his poor opinion of people from Nazareth. So what was it that convinced him that Jesus was worth paying attention to even though he came from the backwaters called Nazareth?

When you think of it Paul was also a very unlikely follower of Jesus because at one point in his life he was one of Christianity’s greatest enemies. He did everything he could to make life difficult for the Christians. Then one day on the Damascus Road he has a radical turn around and becomes a follower and proselytizer for Jesus.

I think we can blame all these conversions on the Holy Spirit! These people had their lives totally turned around. They were all able to feel the presence of God in their physical and spiritual selves in such a powerful way they could not continue to live in their old ways of fear and greed.   How has your life been turned around?

I want to focus on the Epistle because it talks of what for me is so important. Paul was calling on his people to use their bodies for the transformation of the world. He calls on his followers to treat their own bodies with respect and dignity and do the same to others. In essence Paul was describing how God becomes incarnate in each of us every day. How God loves to live in every cell of our bodies. Did you know that Christianity is one of the few religions that believes that God became incarnate in a human being? I go even further and say that God seeks to become one of us each day. This is not just a spiritual concept! It is about all of us especially our physical bodies.

Most of us have grown up in the Church that has not been comfortable with our human bodies. We, that is the Church and Society, have come up with all sorts of rules, taboos and destructive theology that has divided us up into two beings a that we are intended to treat our bodies as temples. Our bodies were created in the image of God. In the book of Genesis we are reminded that God was pleased with what God had created.

How do you feel about your own body? No one is perfect! No one has a perfect body because each body is unique. I have struggled with my body image for years. I am certainly not the image of stereotypical strong man. I have too often feared my own body. I keep worrying about what could go wrong. But if you think about it our bodies are amazing miracles. It is amazing that our bodies work well most of the time and especially when we are taking care of them. It is amazing how often, other parts of the body, will make up for a part that is not working well. We are truly blessed.

I believe Jesus came into the world to help us live fully in our human physical life here on planet earth. I don’t think Jesus was concerned about the afterlife. He wants us to live the best we can during our earthly life. He wants us to use our bodies for the building up of the Kindom of God.   He wants us to enjoy the incredible gift of being blessed with a human body that allows us to fully experience the world through sight, smell, touch and thought.

Also I believe that the Spirit desires us to enjoy being sexual beings. Meaning thus that God intends for us to experience the world and each other through our bodies. To remain being fully human we need gentle touch to remind us that we are part of something much greater. Then when we give ourselves fully to another person it becomes a sacred act that radiates the love of God. I appreciate what Rohr says about the Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study on Human Sexuality.

The Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study Human Sexuality summarized it rather well when stated that our sexual action must aim to be “self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving, and joyous.” That is certainly the task and journey of a lifetime, but it is no more or less than what Jesus said when he taught the greatest commandment of love of God and love of neighbour. The two loves “resemble” (Matthews 22:39) one another. They are each the school of the other. We will learn how to be properly sexual as we understand the properly passionate relationship that God has with us. And we will learn to be properly spiritual as we come to understand the true character of human longing and affection.

http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/pure-passion?parent=41152

When we can openly talk about sexuality in church we will have come a long way.

I hope we can learn to value our bodies more. I hope we will stop trying to separate our personhood in to the physical and spiritual. We are all interconnected. Each of us are a weaving together of all our physical and spiritual qualities. They cannot be separated!

I invite you this week to intentionally be aware of your amazing body and how you feel blessed to live in it. What are you thankful for?

When we feel so blessed by our bodies we cannot help but want to take better care of ourselves and to encourage others to do the same with their own bodies. This all must happen to heal the world.

God within Us

Bodies and Spirit

 

6th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 28:10-19a:  

Romans 8:12-25:  
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43: 

 

 

 

Paul in his message to the Romans calls upon us to be our Christ selves.  Another way of saying it is that we are called to be our true selves, our spirit selves, our authentic selves.  What does it mean for you to be your authentic self?

 

 

 

The language that Paul uses isn’t helpful for our time. Why?  In the scripture Paul calls upon us to follow the spirit and not the flesh.  Sadly, for many centuries, people have interpreted this to mean that are bodies are inherently evil and our bodies tempt us to sin, especially women’s bodies. So for centuries the church has tried to impose many rules on how we use our bodies to protect us from our animal selves.  It has imposed penalties on those who break the taboos.  It has used its rules around sexuality to keep women as slaves of men. This led to all sorts of unhealthy attitudes about our bodies and the relationship between men and women. 

 

 

 

For me, the church has warped our sense of a human sexuality and turned it from something beautiful into a tool for those with power to manipulate others into doing things that will benefit their masters.   It has led to us abusing our bodies and bodies of others.  It has also silenced the wisdom of our bodies and that is why there so much physical, spiritual and mental dis-ease now.  How comfortable are in your in your own body?  Did you know that the whole of you both spirit, mind and body are sacred and divine?

 

 

 

Thankfully there has been present from the beginning of Christianity to today groups of people who have opposed this notion that the body is inherently evil.  Even in early Christianity, the church over and over said that Jesus was both fully human and fully God.  It was like saying that Jesus was both divine spirit and sanctified body.   More so, it was made very clear that when Jesus was resurrected it wasn’t just his spirit. It also included his body. Also the stories of the disciple’s encounters with Jesus were bodily experiences, such as demonstrated by the story of Doubting Thomas.

 

 

 

There are more and more Christians, like myself, who feel called to see ourselves as both body and spirit. We cannot separate these two parts.  We cannot have one without the other.

 

 

 

As I am learning more about the Enneagram I am discovering how close the Spirit is. The wisdom of God is never far away whether you feel it in your body, see it through your eyes and/or sense it through your mind.  I believe God is present within us and around us.  God is present in the people, including ourselves and in the whole of creation.  It is never far away!

 

 

 

Too often we see ourselves as defective.  But God never sees us that way.  God has blessed each of us with love, patience, energy and wisdom to be a Co-Creator with God.  As long as we are caught in this lie we will be stuck in hopelessness. We will try all sorts of things to fix ourselves or fix those around us. But then we discover that money won’t fix it.  The latest hip book won’t fix it.  The right church won’t fix it.  However the only way to change the world is to change ourselves and the Good News is that we have everything we need to begin the transformation process.

 

 

 

Up to now many of us have gone through trials and tribulation to survive in our world.  How we survived is a combination of what we learned from those around us who passed on their survival skills and our and our personality.  When we are young we use whatever we come up with to survive.  When we use them habitually as we get older we call these fixations.

 

 

 

A fixation is a behaviour we use over and over again to deal with issues in our lives where we feel frightened and/or insecure.  When we use it often it becomes like a habit.  For example one of my fixations is security.  I have missed great opportunities in my life because I was frightened to do something or go somewhere I wasn’t familiar with.  I awfulized worrying about what was unlikely going to happen.  Have you ever done that?

 

 

 

Our goal is to become fully present in our Christ selves.  To work on this is a life long journey.  There is no quick fix.  Each of us need to be willing to begin peeling off all the lies and fixations that block us from being our true selves.  This will take a lot of courage and grace for yourself and those around you.

 

 

 

It is important to remember that you don’t need to try and do this alone. In fact I would recommend that you don’t try this alone as you will need people to journey with you as it won’t always be easy.

 

 

 

A good place to start is to honor your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  For example, we all need to be touched in respectful ways.  I will never forget a nun saying to me in a group that she had sexual needs in that she needed human contact, relationship and touch.  We know that if babies don’t have it they will die.

 

 

 

Our bodies are meant to be used for the glory of God.  How are you using your body?  Have you found your vocation and found ways to live it out?  Are you taking care of your body with proper food and exercise?  I love the image of the body being like a temple.  If you would take great care of your church why wouldn’t you take great care of your body?  Do this with joy and not as a penalty for your sinfulness.

 

 

 

I would encourage you to find a tool and/or a practise to help you to become more fully present such as painting, pottery, sports, meditation, yoga, massage and Reiki.  I am finding the Enneagram to be a great tool to help me find who I truly am by discovering and releasing my addictive fixations that have held me back for much of my life.  It is also helping me to discover more and more of my God given wisdom that is always present if I would just pay some attention. 

 

 

 

The Enneagram and other spiritual/personality tools has helped me to recognize that there is great guidance that comes through the head, heart and gut energies of our bodies.  For us to be healthy we need to pay attention to all three energies.  Most of us get into trouble when we are fixated on wisdom from only one.  This gives us a distorted perspective which leads to emotional hurt and frustration.

 

 

 

I invite you to begin or continue your journey of self-discovery as your great gift back to God.  If each of us would embark on this journey for healing and wholeness the world would become a much better place.

jesus1