Just how important are these bodies of ours? Our modern, secular culture would say, “They’re everything!” From fretting about the size of our children (too short to play basketball?), to worrying about weight, to watching our backs and elbows groan while golfing, tennis and chores, we’re focused on our bodies.
The Christian faith was born in a culture that actually demeaned the human body. The reigning Hellenistic philosophies said that the body mattered not one whit – what was important was the immortal soul. So, unconsciously, many learned Christians also assimilated that view that the body was unimportant, or even an impediment toward holiness. Debates raged about whether or not Christ’s body was an apparition. Why would God stoop to having a body?
What does God come to us embodied in Jesus Christ? Because the most important lessons in life happen through the body. As Christian theologian Thomas Oden recently wrote, the body serves the soul. In his memoir, A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir, he describes how he learned that lesson as he watched his wife’s decline and death. But, both he and she grew in soul as her body faded.
This Sunday’s sermon lesson contains that beloved image of our body as a temporary tent. Ah, but tents are essential for hikers to explore the deeper regions of the wilderness. And so, our souls are deepened by the lessons of the body.
(I’ll be away, working on my own soul with some hard hiking and biking for ten days. But you’re in good hands with our new Pastoral Associate for Congregational Care, the Reverend Melanie Silva. If you need to reach her, please call her at: 619-992-7635.)