Monday, June 17, 2019

Hand Motions

Yesterday was Holy Trinity Sunday at my congregation, the Sunday we make special recognition of the name of the one whom we invoke every single week:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, among the songs we sang about the Trinity, was this simple one:

Father, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love you.

I sing this song at the pre-school connected with the church sometimes.  It is simple enough to learn, even though the concept is too hard for pre-school children to grasp.  We learn the simple words, and we also learn some hand motions.

Come to think of it, every single song I sing with pre-school children has hand motions.  

Usually on Sunday morning we do not use hand motions.  We sing complicated songs with a lot of words, some of them hard:  words like "Trinity" or "Immortal" or "cherubim".  So on Sunday morning we were singing a song much simpler than our usual fare.

I decided to teach the congregation the hand motions too.

Why do I do hand motions with the children at the pre-school?  I can't say that I have thought about it very deeply.  It's just something you do.  Children need to learn not just with their eyes, and not just with their voices, but also with their hands and their feet.  Learning is active.  Learning is a whole-body experience.

I like to think that worship is a whole-body experience too, but when I think about it, I realize that a large part of it is learning to sit still and pay attention.  Sitting still does not seem very whole-body, although it is an important thing to learn to do.  It is also (and even more so) very important to learn to pay attention -- not just for an hour or two on Sunday -- but in every part of our life.

I learned well how to sit still in church.  And there were times when this skill was very helpful.  I was a good student.  I knew how to listen to the teacher.  There are times when sitting still is very important.

But I confess that sometimes I think I learned that lesson too well.  I was so good at sitting still, that I was afraid to get up.  If I sit still, I thought, I can't get into trouble.   Not getting into trouble became the point.

But sometimes faith calls us to get into trouble.  Sometimes faith even calls us to make a ruckus.  How do we learn that?  How do we learn that there is a time to sit still and listen, and there is a time to stand up and do something?  There is a time to walk right over to the wounded man by the side of the road in Jericho and help him.  There is a time to stand up and say something is wrong.  There is a time to use your hands and your feet and your whole body to worship God.  There is a time to stretch out your hand to help, to comfort, to heal, even to raise a fist.  There is a time to do the hand motions, to use your whole body to worship God, to follow Jesus.

Hand motions.

Jesus, we adore you.  Lay our lives before you.

Our whole lives:  hands, feet, voices, shoulders and knees, eyes and ears.  Our beating hearts.

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