This month, we are continuing our challenges in which we are asking our members to read Scripture, prayer, spend 20 minutes moving our bodies, and/or cleansing and resetting our dietary habits. Our children’s ministry is also getting in on the fun by participating in a sign language challenge in which they are learning to perform the song, Firm Foundation, in sign language. In previous weeks, we have spent time reflecting on Scripture and Prayer and why these are essential for the life of faith, and now this week we come to Movement.
In comparison with Scripture and Prayer, this challenge may seem different, or somehow less spiritual than the ones that have come before. However, I invite you to reconsider such a line of thinking as those who have eyes to see can learn to incorporate spirituality into all that they do.
So, Movement. Why move? Why spend time moving our bodies, exercising, stretching, doing Yoga, and being intentional in this way?
Well, there may be different reasons: to stay active and to use the gifts of athleticism that God has given us, to extend our bodies physical health into future years, to have fun and to enjoy the world that God has given us, and more!
But this week, I ask that you consider this with me as we think about the Movement challenge: God moves. God’s Word moves. God’s people move. And yes, I mean this both symbolically and literally, physically and emotionally. God moves us, but God also moves us (if that makes any sense!). God moves us in our hearts and minds to be faithful people. And sometimes, God calls us to get up and go. The Gospel is not stationary!
It has been commented upon by many religious historians that of all the major world religions, it does seem to be the case that Christianity is perhaps uniquely flexible. Christianity is not tied down to any one or multiple locations, but it is able to be contextualized and brought to many places and times, morphing enough to interest new peoples in new places but not so much as to lose the heart of its message.
Over the centuries, Christianity’s center has shifted too. What began in Jerusalem on a cross and subsequently at an empty tomb eventually shifted further North and West toward Rome. From Rome, it traveled West to countries like Spain, Portugal, France, and England, and then on to the Americas. In more recent years, it has begun shifting again toward the Southern Hemisphere in Africa and even the Middle East once more. During all that time, Judaism has spread worldwide, but maintained its center in Israel at Jerusalem. Islam too is a worldwide religion, and yet places like Mecca and Medina are pilgrimage sites that keep Islam centered there. Buddhism and Hinduism remain centered in the Far East, in India, China, and surrounding countries. None of this is said to cast judgment on something that is right or wrong or something that is better or worse, but it does simply remind me that the God we meet in Jesus is on the move.
When God called Abram in Genesis 12, the first word he spoke to him was, “Go.” Moses led the people through the wilderness for 40 years. The prophets spoke to the people who were in Exile–they were on the road–and encouraged them in how to remain faithful even in such a challenge. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus resolutely sets out for Jerusalem in chapter 9, and the entire rest of the Gospel contains notes about Jesus’ journey to get there. Much of the remainder of the New Testament is possible because Paul and others got out on the road and traveled to take the message of Jesus with them to new places and people.
This story is constantly on the move. And so, this month, as we encourage each other to spend 20 minutes in moving our bodies everyday, may we know that this is not just purely physical exercise. But in moving, we have the opportunity to take God with us each and every place that we go. May we ever have the Word of God on our lips, everywhere we go.