"the body"

August 23, 2020

Series: August 2020

Category: Patience

Speaker: Rob McClellan

Tags: the body, christian vocation


Today's Scripture

Romans 12:1-8
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate,in cheerfulness. THIS IS HOLY WISDOM, HOLY WORD. THANKS BE TO GOD.

"the body"

A couple weeks ago my family was staying at a Presbyterian retreat center in Tahoe. I found myself at one point staring at my hands. They were dry from the mountain air, but you know when you consider it, the hands are amazing things. If you’ve ever had trouble with them,you’ve learned that lesson doubly. The body is remarkable, for what it can do in both extraordinary circumstances and everyday life. It’s interesting, then, that Paul says to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1).

What do you suppose it means to present one’s body as a living sacrifice to God? Just what was the function of sacrifice? That’s the question I want you to discuss in your breakout rooms, or if you’re watching through another means, to contemplate or discuss. If you watch later, don’t skip this part. Do the work. If you are participating via zoom, of course begin with introductions or by reconnecting. You’ll have about 7 minutes to discuss and you should receive a timed warning. Again, what does it mean to present one’s body as a living sacrifice. Try to give tangible examples of how you’ve done it or how you’ve seen it.

-Breakout 1-

If we take this wisdom as sacred, then it strikes me we have some work to do because our culture and our tradition have taught us a lot of negative things about our bodies. We have to cleanse ourselves of these if we are to succeed in allowing our bodies to serve in this way. Our next discussion will be to explore negative messages we’ve been given about ourselves, particularly about the body. This is for everyone, even those of you at first think you’ve never been limited by your appearance or body. This can be sensitive, so share as you feel as right and hold the space reverently for others. Again, how have you been disregarded or shamed or had unhelpful limits imposed on your body, or bodies of those you know and love? Think expansively. How has the body been prevented from fully being a living sacrifice?

-Breakout 2-

This passage from Paul shifts from people’s bodies being a sacrifice to the community of faith functioning as a singular body. Like all good wisdom, this image should be liberating. This image does so by reminding us that the same thing is not require from everyone. Isn’t that a gift? So, the question for you is what gift, or interest, or passion do you bring to the body? I know we have a cultural norm against bragging, but this isn’t that. It’s about being honest about what you have to offer. Don’t think exclusively of your paid work life either. Get basic. Get concrete. What do you have to contribute? Or, how could you imagine contributing? The only rule here is no apologizing or downsizing or downplaying the significance of your gift. God gave it to you. Hold each other accountable.

-Breakout 3-

Let us pray…for these gifts, we give thanks. For these fellow members of the body, we
give praise. For the wounds we carry, we seek healing. For the limitations we impose, we seek
liberation. Amen.

Now, we enter into a time of music and reflection…

Quotes, Questions & Prompts for Reflection, Discussion, and Prayer

“I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

1. What were you taught about the body from your faith?
2. How has the church understood sex in your experience?
3. What does Paul seem to be indicating the body is for in this passage?
4. How well do you understand your gifts? Embrace them?
5. Who, along the way, has helped you recognize what you have to offer?