Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bodily Worship!

Romans 12:1-2
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12 I 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. 2 Do 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.

I have long loved this passage from when I first learned it in high school.  Back then and throughout college,
it served as a reminder to "not be conformed" but "transformed".  I remember a 90s style t-shirt that I wore often as a reminder, it read: "Against The Flow".  Again challenging me as a teen that being different, making different choices due to my faith was a "good and acceptable and perfect", God's will for my life.

Now in my 30s and in my 12th year as pastor, I am drawn to the first verse of Romans 12, "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship."  Again as in my teens and 20s this verse stood as a reminder for how I used my body particularly when it came to sexuality and abstinence.

But now I am thinking in terms of worship and bodies.  My DMin study involves exploring the possible connections between Multiple Intelligences theory and worship planning and leadership.

According to Romans 12:1 presenting our bodies to God is a spiritual act of worship.  My experience of worship in the churches that I have been associated with has been very much head and heart.  Faith and worship were well thought out.  Sermons followed a logical sequence.  Hymns fit the theme of the day.  Prayers engaged the mind with images and poetry.  And worship sought to inspire awe, wonder, passion, love for God.

Through my recent experiences in other traditions, other styles of worship, other forms of prayer, that I have begun to wonder: why only head and heart?!

Multiple Intelligences theory (according to its original thinker Howard Gardner) offers 7 intelligences or said simply 7 ways that people are smart.  Gardner explored brain research as well as multiple cultures to determine these 7 intelligences:


He says that people engage the world in these 7 ways, we learn through our experiences in these 7 ways, and we make decisions in these 7 ways.

My thesis is to apply these 7 intelligences to the design, planning, and leading of worship so that the worshiping body will be fully-engaged! Heart, head, hands, voices, feet, thoughts, relationships, images, songs all united in our praise of Almighty God.  Therefore, we will be doing as the Apostle Paul challenges us, "to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

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