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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Some"body" loves you

I remember the young man was sitting on the couch in my office, arms opened wide, head hanging down staring at the floor, and asking "can I just get someone to hold on to?" His wife had an affair with his boss, took their daughter, and moved in with the "new" man in her life. The guy in my office, her "old" man, I guess, was a tad depressed. Infidelity...love's constant toxin.

So here we are on the first day after Easter, an event that occurs mostly because of infidelity, and the world rolls on it merry way from day to day, oblivious of the desperation so many feel because they do not have "someone to hold on to." (I will not reference music lyrics, I will not...don't ask...it will not happen.)

Okay. You win. Here.

What is interesting, both for the young man in my office, and for the band The Choir, is that they are wrong. No one needs someone to hold on to. But EVERYBODY needs some"body" to hold on to. The abstract, overly platonized  pronoun "someone" misses the whole point of Easter. Some"body", on the other hand, gets at what Christianity is all about. God places people in our lives to touch, feel, taste, see, hear, and be present in ways that go beyond just a vague memory or a shadowy allusion. It's all about bodies...

Pop culture, of course, knows this much better than most Christian leaders. Vampires, zombies, Game of Thrones, Vikings, American Idol, Facebook, and whatnot all prefer bodies over idealized notions of love or even hatred. We want the visceral, we want the blood, and Christianity used to deliver that before it became a key source of greeting cards by Hallmark and figurines by Precious Moments (the two greatest anti-Christian forces in the world...not even the most radical atheist does as much damage to Christianity as a Hallmark card that uses "Footprints in the Sand" as an expression of deep faith.) So more people watch this
 than go to worship because at least GoT talks about stuff that is "real."

Over the years, my teen-aged charges have often used the word "real" to describe what they like about fantasy shows like Game of Thrones. For years I was baffled by such things (I mean, Khaleesi is the mother of dragons...and who doesn't want dragons?) as it was hardly "real." I discovered over the years that "real" was a substitute for things you could sense like blood, fear, love, and hope. It wasn't real because it existed, but rather because it got at something that was important. These same youth did not find that "real" stuff in Christian worship. And it wasn't a case of selling our Christian souls to Hallmark and Precious Moments, it was really as simple as replacing "somebody" with someone. When we lost our connection to the body, we lost our connection to reality. We also lost our connection to those seeking reality. As Spike tells Buffy, "It's always about the blood."

What that young man wanted on my couch that day was not some"one" but some"body." He wanted a body to hold, to be there on the couch with him, to squeeze his hand, to cry with him, and a body to be part of his world. Jesus of Nazareth knew this. He often touched those he healed, his presence, his body often transformed those he had dinner with, and his words often brought new ways of seeing and being a body of people together. Jesus knew that people wanted bodies, not souls, to journey with in life...he even suggested that if you want to save your "soul," learn to live with your body, and more importantly, with the bodies of the people around you. A hungry body doesn't get nutrition from a prayer, but a hungry soul devours the apple.

By the way, this focus on bodies over "ones" is why I end my posts this way:

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true. (a hungry soul doesn't need a table, but a hungry body does.)

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