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“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

                                                      I Corinthians 6:19-20

When I was a little kid, my grandmother told me that my body was a temple of the Holy Spirit. I knew about the Holy Spirit. We believed in this God power, great super hero stuff when you’re little and all that. But I wasn’t so sure about this temple business. I’d never met a Jewish person and didn’t know that their church took place in a temple or synagogue. After my devoted grandmother carefully explained all that to me, I considered it. Then in my imagination, my body became a church, and my grandmother told me that I needed to take care of the church because God made the church, and God loves the church and God uses the church for good.

When I grew older, the story shifted. That same message about the body as temple of the Holy Spirit now meant that I was supposed to keep it pure, and not trash it through abuse, or use substances that my Methodist parents didn’t have in the house. My mother never touched alcohol until she was in her late 70’s, and then, a half glass, under duress, and never again. There are worse things to say about one’s mother than that she was sober, after all.

In the end though, my issue with I Corinthians was not abuse of the body so much as neglect. If my body was the church, it became a bit like that dilapidated and abandoned shell on the side of some country road, where a community once gathered and then left it for a place more promising. The problem with that of course, is that when it comes to our bodies, there’s no place else to go.

God issues one body per person. We can replace some of the parts, or learn to live without certain minor pieces. We can reconstruct our bodies and keep them running longer through the many miracles of modern medicine. What we can’t do this side of heaven is leave them behind.

Maybe it’s time to consider this. What if God gives us this temple and then appoints us as custodian to keep it spotless for the sake of those who need it? Imagine that God wants us well-rested, well-nourished, fit and strong for the work for which God has chosen us. Our bodies matter. They matter to God and they matter to the world.

Prayer: God of all creation. Thank you for the miraculous, wondrous gift of our bodies. Help us to cherish our body today, without judgment or shame, and to care for our body as if you depend upon it to bear good news to your people. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee