Body Theology….Evidence of a life lived.

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If I wanted to describe my outlook on life, I would use a phrase … I celebrate life in all its fullness’. I know it’s a strange phrase, as most of us would reply ‘and so say all of us’. But what does that mean for us as Christians …when we follow a God whose body was mutilated and tortured on a cross through the death of Jesus., Some people may look at their own bodies and feel shame, disgust, and revulsion.

We need to reflect and reclaim what that means for us in the light of ‘Body Theology’.

Our bodies are how we live and move within God’s world. As St Teresa of Avila clams … God has no body but ours, no feet but ours, no hands but ours, ours is the body with which Christ moves.

So what will Christ feel and see if he moves about in my Body!

Well after three hip operations, two children, a life of enjoying good company, friendships, food and fellowship, pneumonia and various illnesses …this very rounded body is holding out!  Nevertheless, my Body is sacred … with its scars and cellulite, and spots and menopausal symptoms.

My body tells a story of life that I have lived in all of its fullness… some have been painful memories which i would want to forget, where ‘abuse’ has tortured my inner being, yet I want to celebrate God dwelling in me  .

I have loved passionately and deeply, with all of my being, and some scars are deeply hidden, but to love and trust someone, to give one’s Body over to someone else to care for whether friend , relative or lover is incredibility humbling….. God delights in Love

I have played energetically, seeing the sights and sounds of different cultures, different traditions, and different relationships, all have enriched me in many surprising ways, pushing my Body to its limit( for me ) ! … God delights in my Playfulness

I have lived rejoicing in my womanhood, experiencing  being a single mother, breast feeding my children, the menopausal symptoms which can overtake my Body, forgoing food to feed my then two young children; snacking and not eating properly is still a habit I have not relinquished. … God delights in my Faithfulness

I have worked hard, as a nurse, teacher, friend, colleague, and now a minister, and have given 150%, which yes has taken a toll on my Body, through tiredness and exhaustion… God delights in my commitment.

Yet, my Body is a place where God has delighted in all my experiences, and still delights. My Body is still the place of discovery, still the place where God chooses to dwell, and be with me as I explore the world around me.

So… I am not thin , so…. I don’t exercise , yes have yo- yo dieted for most of my life, but God’s Spirit dwells in me and delights in my Body that brings fullness into my life.

I have LGBT and disabled friends who have over the years helped me reflect on my Body, when some have had gender reassignment, some in wheelchairs and to them I will be forever grateful. Body Theology speaks to the deep inner self within us. It bubbles with excitement as we push our boundaries of discovery.

My physical, psychological and sexuality are how I live my life in all of its fullness, and I give glory to God for my experiences so far, and for ones that I have yet to encounter.

What will Christ feel and see in your Body ?

Glorious God

Our bodies have been changed

over the years through disease and injury,

Yet you choose to lovingly dwell within us.

Help us to Love our Bodies that tell the story of the life we have lived

To sense the delight you have when we discover new experiences

And when our Bodies give up on us

Journey with us until we become a new creation.

Amen

I am grateful for the beautiful images of the’ abundant Goddess’ which have helped me explore my own Body Theology.

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Closeness of God … Come down O Love divine by Fernando Ortega

I have just returned for a short break … hence the lack of posts!!. No holiday for me, however my eldest daughter got married, and it was a wonderful occasion. As a single parent, I remember wondering how my daughters would ‘turn out’ as they are both very different in looks and character. As a young Mum, I can recall standing in the front room of dingy flat and shouting and being frustrated with God, wanting to God to sort everything out!! Yet, looking back I was never without a job, and always had food on the table. Now watching my eldest daughter walk down the aisle, and being asked to preach at her wedding …was a great privilege…. So Thank you Katharine.

She had wanted to walk down the aisle herself, and we had discussed it at length, and she … being a fiercely independent woman…. wanted it to be done her way. I felt as a Mum, a little put out with her decision, , but seeing her simple white dress, and string of pearls, coming through the chapel door, I had done my job , as a parent , confidante and friend . As she slowly walked, I sense she was struggling , being overcome with emotion, so when she had walked half way …..her fiancé put his book down and walked to her, steadying her, as they walked up the aisle together.

There is something profoundly theological about this, for she had been searching for God, wanting to be close to God… and I recalled many deep theological conversations we had till 3am over a bottle of wine … Yet in this man she had found the heart of God, a companion, a friend, a lover …someone who has shown her what Love and being Loved  is all about.

It was right that he walked her up the aisle … not me. I had done my part, as a mother  I had nurtured her , and asked God to help me in caring for her , now God was bringing another dimension of Love for her to experience.

I still pray for her to experience the closeness of God, and for the Holy Spirit to reveal herself in new and creative ways to the both, as they journey together in this life.

This Fernando Ortego song is for them, words by Bianco of Sienna in the 15th century and music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Advent .. lets de-clutter !!

As Christmas approaches, the shops are full of toys and gadgets to buy and food supermarkets are stacked to overflowing … and many buy one get one free offers abound. However as Christians, this causes a dilemma. We want to celebrate the birth of  Jesus, and not to loose heart or loose the true meaning of what the babe of Bethlehem brings us.. that is

God came to dwell with us ,

God came to be a shining light ,

a great presence in our lives ,

however we have turned Christmas into a huge shopping spree, that favours those who live in some degree of wealth.

For those who live in poverty, or on the edge , Christmas can be a trying time , a time that some dread, and celebration is the last thing on their minds .In my experience Faith can be stronger when there is ‘nothing left’, by that I mean that when you are at the end of your tether…. God is still there and will never abandon you.. But for those who see success in material wealth, for those who focus on self and not the other, God has no where to dwell in their lives .

In the western world we are very fortunate , for the majority of us live in societies  than enables us to live in relative comfort, so PLEASE spare your time and money, to think of others who are not as fortunate… put an extra tin of food in your shopping and give to a food bank, help at a homeless project on Christmas day( my children still remember us doing that , and they said it was the best Christmas’s !!) , look around and see if you can help God find a home….

God did not come to palace , or an expensive luxurious home …

God came to dwell alongside us… in the mess, in the pain , in the Spiritual and Physical poverty .

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God came to dwell … so as we wait … let us make room… let us de clutter, and throw out the rubbish that accumulates, and make ready… not toys or gadgets … but build a manger in our hearts, that the Christ child may enter.