The Incarnation & Embodied Worship

At Christmas we marvel at the stunning truth that God himself moved into the neighborhood. Far from being a footnote, the incarnation completely transforms our understanding of who the Lord is, how he relates to his people, and the lengths to which he will go to save them.

The incarnation also affirms that our bodies truly matter to God. As Jerram Barrs puts it, “who can imagine a more remarkable affirmation of the physical than this, that the everlasting God entered our world and joined the human race?”.

This has huge implications for how we think about a life of worship, because, when it comes to discipleship, we have a tendency to live as though our minds are all that matter.
As Christians, we often live as though sanctification simply means knowing more things and getting more information inside of our heads. But this mindset distorts God’s intentions for his people, and it minimizes the gift of the church body physically gathering to worship on Sundays.

As James K. Smith puts it in You Are What You Love, every week we “rehearse the story of redemption” through embodied worship. These physical practices matter a great deal because our liturgy, being “suffused by the biblical story,” “inscribes that story into our hearts”' (Smith). As we are called into worship, as we sing, as we kneel in confession and are assured of pardon, as we pass the peace to our neighbors, as we hear the Word of God read and taught, as we hold out our hands to receive the bread and the wine, as we take and eat, and as we are sent out through the benediction to make Christ known in the corners of Houston where the Lord has placed us, we are enacting the story of redemption. This is no small thing. Rather, embodied worship forms us deeply because we are, by God’s good design, embodied beings, and what we do with our bodies affects our hearts. We are what we love, and our loves have everything to do with the story out of which we are living. And so, week after week, we are invited to live into a true and better story: the story of redemption, a story that ends with the Immanuel– the God who moved into the neighborhood, died, has risen, and is coming again– physically dwelling with his people forever in the new heavens and the new earth.
Mary Catherine Montgomery
Christ the King Student Ministry Coordinator