Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

May 2013: Embodied

may 2013 grace flyer

Entering the worship space

People are invited to enter through one of three arches labelled Body, Mind, Spirit and there is someone there to give them a blessing.
Body – they are invited to kneel down; the person takes their hands and says: May you know the touch of God on your life, may you feel God’s presence and experience God’s peace.
Mind – they are given a bible verse and told: ‘Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.’ Here is something to think about as you wait for the service to begin.
Spirit – person raises a hand and prays over them, without touching them, ‘May your heart be blessed and your spirit be at one with God.’

Welcome to worship

Breathe in the breath of God
Breathe out your cares and concerns
Breathe in the love of God
Breathe out your doubts and despairs
Breathe in the life of God
Breathe out your fears and frustrations

We sit quietly before the One who gives life and love to all creation,
We sit in awe of the One who formed us in our mother’s womb
We sit at peace surrounded by the One who fills every fibre of our being

Breathe in the breath of God
Breathe out your tensions and turmoil
Breathe in the love of God
Breathe out your haste and hurry
Breathe in the life of God
Breathe out your work and worry

We sit quietly before the One who gives life and love to all creation,
We sit in awe of the One who formed us in our mother’s wombs
We sit at peace surrounded by the One who fills every fibre of our being

As a provocation, we asked you to choose body mind or spirit as you entered the service – how did that feel? Can we compartmentalise ourselves like that? Historically, the Christian faith has had a negative view of the body. early church fathers, not helped Greek thought, thought that the body was the prison of the soul and was something that led us into sin. The body was something to be controlled and subjugated, while the spirit was the part of us that communed with God.

But Jesus told us to love the lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are integrated beings that can’t be compartmentalised – what we do to our bodies affects our spirits, our minds, our hearts, our very selves. This evening we want to explore what it means to be embodied beings, to celebrate and affirm the bodies God has given us.

Engaging with the Bible – Luke 7:36-50

Get people into groups of 3.
Invite everyone to remove their shoes.
Invite them to find space on a bench and choose a P, J, W

P – Pharisee, J – Jesus, W – Woman

Read from the front the story up to the part when the woman comes in and
washes Jesus feet.

Then instruct them to do as follows;
Invite Jesus and the Pharisee to have a conversation, perhaps about what they have done today.
As the conversation continues, the 'woman' comes in and starts massageing
Jesus' feet.
All three note how it feels to be in this situation. How does the woman find
being at someone's feet? How is it for the Pharisee and Jesus to maintain the
conversation when feet are being massaged?

After they have shared how it felt, they read the whole story in their groups,
and some discussion questions appear on the screen
Why did the Pharisee get so angry? Was it just about the type of woman, or
might there have been other things going on?
How do we use physical acts to show hospitality today?
How can you show hospitality to your own body?
(is this hard to think about? why?)

Dissatisfaction with bodies

Our culture encourages us to be dissatisfied with our bodies – they are too fat, too saggy, too wrinkled, too hairy, too smelly, too old… A montage of images and words were displayed on the screen which encouraged us to think about this.

Body meditation

Take a deep breath. You are in a safe place. God is here and God loves you. We’re going to take a few minutes to relax our bodies as a way of becoming still in God’s presence.

Start with your toes. Scrunch them up tightly… and then release them; give them a wriggle and allow them to be still.

Then circle your ankles one by one… round to the left… and then to the right. Allow them to become loose and floppy.

Point your feet and tense your calves. Hold them tight…. then relax and let them go, allowing your lower leg to be loose and still.

Next tense your thigh muscles, and your buttocks. Feel the power in these muscles, and then choose for them to be soft and relaxed.

Pull your stomach in towards your spine… Then push it out so that it bulges... And then it find it’s own position between the two, so there is no tension or strain.

Hold your hands out in front of you, your arms extended as far as they will go. Push forwards and feel your shoulder blades gently move apart. Then let your arms grow heavy and let them glide back down to your lap or to the floor.

Pull your shoulders up towards your ears… then push them down. Do that again – pull them up… and push them down…, then let them settle in between.

Very gently, tilt your head forward so that your chin points towards your chest. Feel the stretch in the back of your neck. Then just as gently, tilt your head backwards, raising your chin in the air. Return to a place of balance and equilibrium.

Clench your fists in front of you. Hold them as tight as you can… and then loosen them, slowly unfurling your fingers until your hands are open, palms to the ceiling ready to receive from God.

Place your hands on either side of your rib cage to feel it moving as you breathe
All the while your lungs are breathing,
steadily, faithfully, unbidden
drawing in oxygen and dispelling carbon dioxide
drinking in that which brings life and expelling what is no longer required.

Place your fingers on the vein in your wrist to feel your heartbeat
All the while your heart is beating,
steadily, faithfully, unbidden
pumping blood around your body
carrying oxygen to your muscles and organs
and removing waste.

Place your fingers on your face and gently feel your lips, your nose, your eyes.
All the while your nerves are tingling,
steadily, faithfully, unbidden
carrying sensations around your body
helping you to sense and negotiate the world around you
warning you of this, helping you to delight in that.

Place your hands on your stomach
All the while your digestive system is digesting
steadily, faithfully, unbidden
breaking down food and absorbing water, extracting what you need
storing away energy and nutrients
dispelling waste to leave you active and strong
engaging, creating, participating and risking.

Be at rest and breathe deeply
All the while your body is at work
steadily, faithfully, unbidden
a symphony of muscles, tissues, organs, nerves, veins, tendons, bones, blood
working together to enable you to engage with the world around you
to worship the God who created you
to experience life in all its fullness.

Take a moment to wonder
Take a moment to give thanks
Take a moment to worship


Abba, Creator, author of the stars above us and within us,
forgive us that we have marred the image of you within us

For we have never valued it, this mortal flesh fashioned from stardust, we have spurned the precious gift from You our creator, the matter you cherished enough to sanctify by Your Word becoming incarnate in Jesus.

We are sorry that we hold it not good enough this way or that, or we neglect its care, forgetting how precious and unique we are in Your sight,

Turn our hearts O God, help us to remember we are your children, ensouled bodies, teach us from this time on to treasure Your creation, valuing the diversity of all You have made in us, that we might grow more fully into the likeness of Your son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Celebrating and nurturing bodies

We drew the outline of someone's body shape on a large sheet of paper on the floor. We invited people to write on it things they wanted to celebrate about their bodies and ways in which they would nurture their bodies.

We moved the arches together, so there was one integrated way to leave the service comprising body, mind and spirit.


May God the Spirit give you wisdom to know that you are no plastic person, no imperfect copy of the ideal human being, but unique and precious; that your wrinkles, sags and bulges are part of how God made you.

May God the Son give you the confidence to see yourself as acceptable not for your efforts to train your body or tame your stomach, but because God loved you from before you did anything at all.

May God the loving Father give you peace to love and care for yourself in spirit, mind, and in body.

And the Blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you now and always,

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