Kneeling, Sitting and StandingIt was the Greeks who taught that people could and should separate the spirit from the body in order to achieve holiness. But the Hebrews disagreed. The Bible sees persons as whole: body, mind, and spirit. An Episcopal worship service acknowledges this by making ways for worshipers to express devotion, not only by listening, but by engaging in physical participation. This movement can be for us an entry into the experience of worship.
We are fortunate to be able to participate so much in worship. We speak in unison as a response to the prayers, psalms, and greetings. When we hear, "The Lord be with you," we reply, "and also with you."
We are able to show our reverence either by bowing or kneeling at those times we feel are especially sacred moments, such as the receiving of the Eucharist or praying in silence.
We sit to hear lessons, but when the Gospel is introduced - there may be a procession to honor it we rise to stand as it is read. All of these movements allow us to change the tone of our feelings, and enable us to express many things that words alone do not convey. It is a wonderful thing to do it all together, as one person.
Different feelings accompany different postures and actions. Kneeling evokes a quiet, reverent humility. Sitting prepares us to listen with attention. Standing enables us to show honor and give dignity to that for which we stand. Speaking gives the congregation a voice and engages the worshiper in prayers, affirmations, and scripture reading. We smell the incense and take in the mystery of a particular moment. We even open and close our eyes as ways of including or silencing our thoughts as we focus on the activity that surrounds us.
The Hebrews were right. The body is very much a part of the whole person. It is not evil but was made to experience good. We can be grateful that physical movement is an essential part of our worship pattern.
Our Patient Merciful God
The Bible and the Gospel speak of God's great mercy for us ...
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“Enter his gates with
thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him
and praise his name.