Over lunch the other day I occupied myself by cutting out photos of naked people.
The photos came from the last three years of ESPN’s annual “The Body” issue, in which accomplished athletes from many different sports are depicted demonstrating
their art. With no clothes on. It’s an amazing photo shoot that gets more impressive each year.
It occurred to me, when I put my scissors down on top of a satisfying stack of torn-out pages, that some of my ministerial colleagues and former parishioners might be shocked. These athletes are, after all, naked. And we don’t, after all, pay much attention to our bodies in the Christian tradition, except to complain among friends or to our doctor when we’re not happy with the way something is looking or working. (I dare say this is true of most people from most expressions of western religious tradition.)
But honestly, I was drawn to the photos because of my faith. I have enormous faith in what the human body is capable of, not just the bodies of these super-humans, but yours and mine. I used to look at photos like this and say: “I am not in the same species as that guy.” Or that gal. But I am. And so are you.
My faith tells me that God created us to move, and to push ourselves to move well and often. Never mind that some humans are born with long, thin, springy muscles and and broad shoulders while others are born with short, non-elastic muscles, narrow shoulders, and a pot-belly that just won’t quit. That’s almost beside the point. Each of us has the potential to get stronger, faster, more flexible and more agile than we are now. Everyone. Even just a little bit. And each of us has the potential for transformation in our bodies as we do in our hearts and minds. Conversion needn’t stop at the neck.
From Psalm 139:
My body was not hidden from you,
while I was being made in secret,
and woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book.
Those of you who are part of traditional churches probably just finished participating in some way in a fall stewardship process. Someone might have asked you to think prayerfully about how to spend the time, talent, and treasure you’ve been given. Did you think about your body as a treasure? As I think about my own stewardship of time, talent, and treasure, I don’t want to forget about stewardship of my body.