If You Want My Body

Sermon from February 24, 2019
1 Corinthians 15: 35-38, 42-50
St. James the Apostle, Conroe, Texas

Now I have known Jerald Hyche, and his whole family, for almost 20 years now.
Jerald and I have shared many conversations.
And I think it is safe to say, that we both grew up during the same era, especially in the same era of popular music.

And maybe I am just a really bad person, yet when I read the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 15, a certain song pops into my head.
When I read the 15th chapter, my mind immediately goes to a song from 1978, a song by Rod Stewart, that starts:

{sung}
“If you want my body.
And you think I sexy
Come on, honey, tell me so.”

The reason that my mind goes to a song about my body, is that the Apostle Paul writes in First Corinthians, all about my body, all about your body.
You see, in this passage from Corinthians, Paul is teaching us about the resurrection of the dead.
Paul writes that we have a body here on earth.
And at the resurrection of the dead, God gives us a new body, a body that God has chosen.

Now this is a very different way to view our own death and resurrection.
In our culture, we talk about death and resurrection as a purely spiritual event.
In our culture, when we talk about death, we don’t talk much about bodies.
Instead, we talk about how, after death, the soul or spirit leaves the body, and flies off to heaven.

Yet this view of death and resurrection is not what the Apostle Paul teaches.

In fact, God declares:
Yes, I want your body.
For in the resurrection of the dead, God gives us a new resurrection body.

And we confirm this belief, when we recite the Apostles’ Creed.
The Apostles’ Creed is used in daily worship, and at baptism and confirmation and burials.
And in the Apostles’ Creed, we say:
“I believe in
The resurrection of the body.”

The Christian faith – is not just concerned with our souls and some elusive “spiritual life.”
The Christian faith – is not about being “spiritual yet not religious.”
The Christian faith – is about a body, the resurrection body.

You might have heard about the CrossFit craze.
CrossFit is a popular way toward health and fitness, within the context of a community who gathers at gyms across the country.

Yet you might not have heard about a newer movement called F3.
F3 started eight years ago, when an Episcopalian from Charlotte, North Carolina started a men’s discussion group.
Yet this men’s group at Christ Episcopal Church decided to use physical fitness as a way to connect men, by focusing on the body.
F3 stands for the 3 Fs of:
Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith.

And now, in just eight short years, F3 groups of men have exploded into over 1800 men’s groups across this country.
In fact, if you look at the F3 website, 3 F3 groups of men meet near here, in The Woodlands.

Most F3 groups meet once a week around dawn, outside in a public park.
The men use their bodies to participate in group fitness.
After the workout, the men then circle up in a circle of trust, a circle of fellowship.
The time ends with an optional time of sharing in prayer and faith.
F3 is a simple formula:
Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith.

In F3, the “spiritual” does not come first.
In F3, the body comes first, fostering fellowship and faith.

In a similar vein, St. Isidore Episcopal Church is a new mission in The Woodlands.
St. Isidore Episcopal Church does not have a church with walls.
Rather, St. Isidore meets throughout the week in various locations out in the world.

One of the groups included in St. Isidore is called Warrior Church, a gathering for both women and men.
Warrior Church gathers at a boxing gym at 7:30am on Sundays, on the east side of I-45, near Spring.
The Sunday worship at Warrior Church is Episcopal.
And when it comes time in the liturgy for the confession of sin, the men and women then push a giant tire across the gym, to represent the weight of their sin.
The men and women who gather at Warrior Church use their whole bodies in worship, to feel with their bodies the weight of sin, and then the subsequent freedom and light of forgiveness.

IMG_8335-1

Warrior Church (www.warriorchurches.com) – St. Isidore Episcopal Church (www.isidores.org)

In 1978, Rod Stewart sang:
“If you want my body.”
And the Apostle Paul answers – that central to the Christian faith – is the resurrection of the body.

Throughout our Christian history, rooted in our Jewish heritage, our whole bodies are used in worship:

In the Hebrew Psalms, we are encouraged to “fall down and kneel before the Lord our Maker” and we are to “lift up our hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord.”
In the New Testament, the very first people to ever worship Jesus Christ are wise men from the East, who kneel down to the Christ child, with their entire bodies.
A woman uses her body to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair.
And the Apostle Paul teaches us that our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit.

In our own Episcopal heritage, we use our bodies in worship.
We stand up for praise and singing.
We sit for spiritual instruction.
We kneel for corporate prayer.
We stand or kneel before God’s gracious Table, where we have been made worthy to stand before him.

Some of us Episcopalians cross ourselves as a reminder of God’s saving cross.
Some genuflect with their knees to God’s presence.
Some even raise their hands up and shout “Alleluia!”
And in the ancient words of our Eucharistic worship, the priest at the altar prays these beautiful words:
“And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies.”

The resurrection of Jesus was not primarily a spiritual event.
The resurrection of Jesus raised his body, a body that still has the human marks of suffering and crucifixion.

And I bring you good news, my friends:
Our resurrection is not primarily a spiritual event!
Our resurrection is about – our physical body!

This is good news!
Because sometimes Christians teach that our bodies are something to be ashamed of, or that our bodily joys are to be suppressed.
Taken to the extreme, negative views about our bodies can lead to bullying or eating disorders or body shaming.

Yet as Christians, we believe in the resurrection of the dead.
We believe in the resurrection of the body.
We believe that Jesus loves you,
Which means that Jesus loves your mind, Jesus loves your soul, Jesus loves your body.

In 1978, the rock and roll star Rod Stewart sang:
“If you want my body.”

Yes, God does want to raise your body.
God does love your body.

Therefore, we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves,
Our souls
And bodies.

AMEN.

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