I am about to head to Texas to preach on Sunday and spend the week with about 150 covenant-loving teenagers talking about Jonah. I am currently preparing/editing my talks. Here is a little section from my Jonah talks focusing on the use of the body as a ritual instrument:
It is interesting that the Protestant tradition, though not always consistent, developed in contrast to the desert fathers, a very strong theology of the body. From that theology, many have come to see that the body is more than a piece of meat with an expiration date on it, but rather a piece of redemption that walks and breathes throughout the earth. You are walking, breathing redemptive bodies. You were created to be God’s redemptive instrument in the life of others. If that is the case, imagine what the body of Jesus meant to humanity; imagine what the incarnation meant to God, the Father. Imagine that when Jesus became flesh, God did not say: “Wow, what a bummer! Now, my Son is only half the man he used to be!” No, again and again, we hear the Father saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!”
Fleshiness is good. For some of us, this is a new idea! There is a common view that says the body is a necessary evil for the human being. But I tend to think that liturgical traditions like ours where godly morality is emphasized, we have has a deeper awareness of bodily abuses. We need to be in the end of the day, equal opportunity offenders. We need to be critical of the individual who loves his body too much to the point that he forsakes others bodies, and also be critical of those who despise the body in favor of mystical practices sprinkled with Christian symbols, while calling it piety. We pray that we will have a greater stability on these matters in the next generation, especially as we grow in understanding the role of the body in life and worship.