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Posture is Everything: A Reflection for Advent

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When praying out loud, or offering a blessing over others, I’ve adopted a “new” posture. I sit up in my chair or stand up straight, push my shoulders back so as to open the space in front of my heart, and open my hands, palms up, with elbows propped on the table if I’m seated or bent if I’m standing.

This isn’t much of a change from how I’ve always prayed. I’ve always been taught to bow my head, close my eyes, and fold my hands in respect of prayer to holy God.

Yet a small shift in posture can change our perspective.

By opening my hands, physically altering my posture to an openness to receive from God, I place myself in a position where I am open and ready to receive the words that God would have me to hear and to carefully repeat the words God would have me to speak. By consciously reflecting on how I orient my body in prayer, I intentionally welcome the word God would have me to pray or bless over others.

We have tried this posture in virtual Sunday School in recent weeks. Our joint effort, a collaboration among 5 Moravian faith communities (Estamos Unidos, Kernersville, Raleigh, Unity, and Home) meets on Zoom from 9:30-10:00 on Sunday mornings. The children and leaders gather from homes, church offices, and even outdoors as we come together in the Spirit to learn, sing, pray, and worship.

At the end of our time together, I’ve offered a blessing over the children – a new practice and opportunity to receive and participate in a word from God. The children place themselves in a similar position to my own, opening their hands and bowing their heads. I bless them with some familiar words, and some new words, and I reflect on how important it is to orient our posture beyond the Fall Sunday School program and into this most unusual season of Advent.

This causes me to reflect: How is my posture?

Do I approach this Advent season with arms crossed in frustration, refusing to accept or acknowledge an unusual way of practicing my familiar traditions?

Are my arms slack in defeat, too weary to continue to hold my palms up? Does my posture toward Advent reflect my exhaustion with this most wearisome year? (And, if it does, do I approach God with honesty about my tiredness? Am I open with God when I express that my arms are just too tired to even lift in prayer?)

Or are my fists balled in anger, refusing to receive any words from God?

Do I approach Advent with an attitude that reflects joy only if the election goes my way?

Do I approach Advent with a posture that reflects openness only if the number of Coronavirus infections goes down?

Do I approach Advent with palms up and open to receive, or downward and closed to anything new or different?

My posture is but a small reflection of the spirit in which I approach God, yet it is an important part of my practice of faith. I find that in the open posture physically, my spirit is more readily able to reflect the openness I want to have in order to hear from God.

As we approach this most unusual and somewhat troubling Advent season, let us honestly reflect on how we can practice a new posture of openness, an opportunity to welcome the Incarnate Christ in a new way.

For regardless of how we position ourselves, God comes. Advent calls believers to be aware of the truth of God’s coming, to acknowledge and welcome the most unusual and somewhat troubling way in which God brings God’s Self into this world: a surprising, unexpected, somewhat troubling Incarnation- into social poverty, to a woman, to become an immigrant refugee.

God was born into open arms, into hands ready to receive, into a body positioned to listen.

Will we similarly prepare ourselves for this most unusual Advent season?

About the Author

Photo via Dana Myers

Dana S. G. Myers, a recovering know-it-all, is passionate about acceptance, excitement, and building community.  She is a student, educator, business owner, author, amateur historian, and Girl Scout leader.  She lives with her husband Matt, daughter Raine, 2 dogs, and an attack cat in the suburbs of Winston-Salem.  She loves books, lives on sweet tea, and faces life armed with Doctor Who quotes and Hershey Kisses. Contact her at [email protected].

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