June 2, 2010

Good Posture

Chiropractors are known to say that good posture makes for a lifetime of flexibility.

I wouldn’t know.  I tend to hunch too much over my laptop, so much so that at least twice a year one of those long muscles running up my back decides to go rogue and stage a clinched-rebellion.  I pay the price for poor posture and enjoy for at least a week a rather stiff neck, and limited field of vision.

It is a metaphor for life in Jesus.  How we stand (or sit, or kneel) before the Lord will in large measure determine how open we are to the movement of God’s Spirit among us.  Good posture makes for a lifetime of flexibility.

Take Pentecost, for instance.  Sit in the pew for even a few years and annually you’ll hear recounted the wild and woolly excitement of Acts chapter 2.  Jesus has departed the scene now, but his core group is gathered in an upstairs room at the Holiday Inn Express – Jerusalem.  It is just another day, except that all around town another Jewish festival has brought people from all over the region to market.

So there they are, the apostles: Huddled in prayer. Waiting. Wondering. Worrying?

And then it happens, in God’s good time.  Tongues of fire.  Blustering winds.  Movement.  Confirmation!  Before long, down in the parking lot, a crowd has gathered to take in this sanctified spectacle.  These strangers to God’s fold hear the old salvation story with brand new ears.  “Those guys up there are all locals.  How is we can hear God speaking to us in our own language? I can hear!”  It must be God.   And as it turns out, the fire and wind of Pentecost is not about increased confusion so much as blessed understanding.  God moves and speaks, and even strangers can now feel the new movement and hear the good news.

But back to posture: I’m moved by those first apostles’ willingness to stay put for spell.  Family therapist Murray Bowen once quipped, regarding relationships: “Don’t just do something, stand there!”  That might be wise counsel for a church on the move.  This first round of disciples decides to “sit together in one place” and wait for God to move among them (Acts 2:1).  Chapter 1 notes that during this time they were “constantly devoting themselves to prayer.”  All this, with the teaching of Jesus still fresh in their ears.

These are the stances that make for good posture before the Lord: coming together, rehearsing the teaching of the Lord, devotion to prayer, expectation … patience.  This is how a people sit and wait for the Lord to move, in the good timing of providence.  And this posture contributes to a certain kind of flexibility: an openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit, a willingness to flex and move when God tongues speak and Jesus winds blow.  An expanded field of vision.  A greater range of motion.  Good posture as the people of God.  Flexibility for faith.

May it be so for us.