Sunday’s sermon: Brushing Teeth: God’s Created Beauty in Me

love your body

Text used – Genesis 1:1-2, 26-31

 

 

  • Luke and Ian were trying to teach Julia a song a few weeks ago: “Head, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes). Head, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes). Eyes and ears and mouth and nose. Head, shoulders, knees and toes!” It was so cute listening to them coach her through figuring out where her various body parts were and cheer for her when she got them right. And, of course, they giggle when she got them wrong (which, of course, made her giggle, too).
    • Adorable to watch
    • In light of what we’re talking about today, also an interesting illustration → I want you to take a minute and think about how much you think about your body – how it looks, how it feels, how it moves. I mean, you might as well think about it because advertisers and bodily improvement industries are certainly thinking about it.
      • Plastic surgery industry in 2018 – $16.5 billion[1]
      • Fitness industry in 2018 – $30 billion[2]
      • Weight loss industry in 2018 – $72 billion[3]
      • Beauty industry (hair, cosmetics, over-the-counter treatments, etc.) in 2018 – $532 billion[4]
      • Billions upon billions upon billions of dollars spent every year trying to improve our bodies in one way or another because billions more have been spent by advertisers trying to convince us those bodies aren’t good enough … strong enough … beautiful enough … capable enough.
    • Along those lines: think about how much time you spend each day taking care of your body
      • Big ways and small ways
      • Simple ways and more complicated ways
      • Everything from showering to food and water, from exercise to brushing your teeth → This summer, we’re working our way through Tish Harrison Warren’s Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life[5]a truly inspirational book that walks us through the most common, seemingly mundane routines of our days and gives us glimpses of where and how we can seek and savor God even in those least obvious moment, those least conscious moments, those least glossy moments … even those moments we’d rather hide.
    • Today, we’re tackling Warren’s 3rd chapter: “Brushing Teeth: Standing, Kneeling, Bowing, and Living in a Body.” So let’s talk about God and faith and our physical bodies.
  • Warren begins by exploring gamut of positives and negatives when it comes to having a body
    • Work and wonder of having a body
    • Caregiving that our bodies require and the pleasure that we get from having a body
      • Pleasure of feeling cool air conditioning on your skin when you step inside on a hot day
      • Pleasure of savoring the flavor of your favorite dish or drink
      • Pleasure of hearing your favorite song or your favorite person saying your name
      • Simple pleasure of breathing in and breathing out, of taking a deep breath
    • Theological side
      • Physical bodies have always been a profound element of our faith
        • Think of our sacraments – the water of baptism and the feast of the Lord’s Supper, food and water … both necessities for the physical survival of our bodies.
        • Think about all the physical, bodily elements of worship
          • Lifting up our voices
            • Readings
            • Song
          • Prayer (like what we talked about earlier) → either large, extravagant motions or motions as familiar as bowing your heads, folding your hands, turning up your face, or lifting your hands
          • (One of our favorites around here): Passing the Peace → greeting one another with a handshake or a hug and the peace of Christ
          • Anointing with oil
          • Marking with ashes on Ash Wednesday
          • Laying on of hands
            • Ordination
            • Confirmation
            • Healing prayer
          • And so many more!
        • Warren reminds us that all of the sacredness of our bodies in worship doesn’t magically leave our bodies when we walk out of the church building (or when we can’t even walk into the church building) … That sacredness stays with us: We carry all of our bodily training in gathered worship – our kneeling, singing, eating, drinking, standing, hand raising, and gesturing – with us into the bathroom on an average day when we look in the mirror.[6]
      • And then, of course, there’s Jesus himself – Emmanuel; God With Us; God’s physical, embodied love letter to humanity. In Jesus, God became incarnate, taking on every aspect of our fleshy, bodily humanity – the pleasure and the pain, the struggle and the strain, the daring and the dancing, the passion and the pleasure, the brokenness and the blessedness. God took on all of that (and even all of the most – erm – earthly elements of having a body) in Jesus Christ. That was the whole point. So of course our faith is a faith that reaches into our bodies.
        • Warren: When Jesus redeems us, that redemption occurs in our bodies. … Our bodies and souls are inseparable, and therefore what we do with our bodies and what we do with our souls are always entwined.[7]
    • Takes it even a step further than just reuniting our bodies and souls → blessing our bodies for being bodies (for what they are and what they do) – Warren: In Christ, these bodily tasks are a response to God’s creative goodness. These teeth I’m brushing, the body I’m bathing, these nails I’m clipping were made by a loving Creator who does not reject the human body. Instead [God] declared us – holistically – “very good.” [God] took on flesh in order to redeem us in our goodies, and in so doing [God] redeemed embodiment itself.[8]
  • Brings us to our Scripture reading this morning – the last day of creation from the 1st creation account in Genesis – text: When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters— … Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good. There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.[9] → God created humanity in God’s own image. Does that mean God’s got a body just like ours? Arms and legs, ears and eyelashes, toenails and a belly button? No. But when God created our bodies – with all the spirit and creativity and capacity for hopes and dreams, joy and sorrow, forgiveness and grace that are essential to God’s own self – God created them as they are and called them good. Not just good, but, according to our Scripture, “supremely good.”
    • Heb. word for “joyous/pleasing” + Heb. word for “abundance/mighty” – leaves no room for doubt or defiance → God’s creation – all of God’s creation, including the human body as God created it – is abundantly joyous, mightily pleasing, supremely good. Period. God didn’t say, “When that human’s hair looks just right, then he’s supremely good.” God didn’t say, “When that human’s wearing makeup, then she’s supremely good.” God didn’t say, “When that human weighs 15 lbs. less, then he’s supremely good.” God said, “You see that human right there? I created that human, and he is supremely good. She is supremely good. They are supremely good simply because I created them.”
      • Really critical point, friends: God also doesn’t designate which humans are supremely good → God doesn’t say, “Only the white ones.” God doesn’t say, “Only the educated ones.” God doesn’t say, “Only the rich ones.” God doesn’t say, “Only the employed ones.” God doesn’t say, “Only the healthy ones.” God doesn’t say, “Only the straight ones or only the cis-gender ones.” God doesn’t say, “Only the ones with a disability.” God doesn’t say, “Only the [fill in the blank of the ways we belittle those unlike ourselves] ones.”
        • Word translated as “humanity” = general Heb. for all people → End of story. No qualifiers need apply. That means black and brown bodies are created beautiful in God’s eyes. That means differently abled bodies are beautiful in God’s eyes. That means transgender bodies are beautiful in God’s eyes. That means immigrant bodies are beautiful in God’s eyes.
    • Friends, we are living in a time of great social unrest and great social change. We are living in a time when a lot of us are realizing that there are a lot of sections of our country that have been marginalized and pushed aside, abused and gunned down, oppressed and subjugated, discriminated against and held back simply because of some element of their bodies – the bodies and minds and spirits that were created in God’s own loving, creative, energetic, beautiful image. Here’s the bottom line today: there are lots of ways that we judge and disparage our own bodies, and there are lots of ways that we judge and disparage the bodies of others. But as you go about those mindless, simple routines in your day that have you caring for your own body, remember that to God, all bodies are deemed sacred and supremely good. Amen.

 

  • Read I Love All of Me by Lorie Ann Grover → This is a truly beautiful board book that celebrates all the parts of the body. It is currently one of my daughter’s favorite books, and I highly recommend it.

[1] https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/press-releases/americans-spent-more-than-16-billion-on-cosmetic-plastic-surgery-in-2018.

[2] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/how-are-fitness-consumers-spending-their-time-and-money-300809717.html#:~:text=CHICAGO%2C%20March%2011%2C%202019%20%2F,of%20data%20and%201%2C300%20responses.

[3] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190225005455/en/72-Billion-Weight-Loss-Diet-Control-Market.

[4] https://www.businessinsider.com/beauty-multibillion-industry-trends-future-2019-7#:~:text=The%20beauty%20industry%20is%20growing,from%20retail%20analytics%20firm%20Edited.

[5] Tish Harrison Warren. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), 2016.

[6] Warren, 48.

[7] Warren, 39.

[8] Warren, 39-40.

[9] Gen 1:1-2. 26-31.

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