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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 15, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Romans 12:1–8

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. (NRSV)

For many of us, worship is often an experience that thoroughly engages the mind. We hear a liturgist’s reading of scripture or a choir’s vocal harmony, and our brains process these sounds into information that provokes, evokes, and hopefully ultimately uplifts us. The words we hear speak to the mind’s concerns: how to live a better life or be uncomfortable with the status quo. And yet worship is more than what happens in our brains. It is what we experience in our whole being—body and soul.

Paul, in these words from his letter to the Romans, speaks of renewal of the mind in the context of the whole body. At one level, the body is a reference for the whole mode of life of one person. The Reformed tradition, in which we Presbyterians stand, has always been focused on the way that faith is lived not simply as a mental ascension to ideas but as a set of practices and, more broadly, a way of being in the world.

At another level, however, Paul alludes to the public body. The public body, or bodies really, take on many different forms. Chicago is a body, and so is the United States. A chorus or an orchestra striving for a common artistic purpose can constitute a body as well. And so it is with the church. As with our personal body, Paul exhorts the church to put its collective body on the line as a living sacrifice, willing to risk and be vulnerable for the sake of the well-being and redemption of creation. To be a body is to put faith into action.

Where is God calling you to put your faith into action today? For what beautiful soul is God calling you to give of your time and financial resources? For what community full of unfulfilled dreams are you being called to spend, vote, or think differently? Wherever you or the church are being called to put your bodies on the line, I hope at the end of the day you and I might be able to say what one civil rights protestor, Mother Pollard, said when she put her body on the line: “My feet are tired, but my soul is rested.”

Bearer of Good News, renew my mind, rejuvenate my spirit, let my body take one step forward in faith today, toward your vision of the world as it can and will be. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Community Engagement

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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