When I found myself at the altar on that Ash Wednesday and felt the warm thumb of my pastor on my forehead, something shifted. I became aware that there is no way for me to be a Christian without my body. It was my body that moved through that sanctuary, my body that sang the longing, penitential hymns, and my body that watched as candles flickered on the altar table. It was my body that smelled the oily ashes spread on my forehead as a tangible, sensory reminder of my humanity.
Yet all those messages telling me my body was bad were—and sometimes still are—circling through my being. It has taken many years of the Holy Spirit whispering something new into my soul for me to consider that maybe, just maybe, my body is good.
—Anne Cummings, My Body Is Good: Giving Up Diet Culture and Embracing Body Positivity for Lent (Upper Room Books, 2022)
Why do you think so many of the church’s rituals involve bodily gestures such as bowing, kneeling, reaching out for Communion, etc.? Join the conversation.
After taking the bread and giving thanks, [Jesus] broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
—Luke 22:19 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
God of new beginnings, help me to
acknowledge, perhaps for the first time,
the beliefs about my body that I have
held for so long. Guide me in sorting
which beliefs are helpful and which are
harmful. Lead me back to you and
to this body that you called good. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
Join us on March 18, 2023, for an online Academy Day Apart retreat, where we will focus on the spiritual practices of silence and contemplation as we journey intentionally through this Lenten season. We will be guided by Gabby Cudjoe-Wilkes and Andrew Wilkes, authors of Psalms for Black Lives. In our time together during this retreat, Gabby and Andrew will help us engage the Psalms to create a laboratory of justice imagination. Learn more and register here.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.