Beyond the Offering Plate

Bodies Matter

Although churches tend to talk exclusively about money when they talk about stewardship, Beyond the Offering Plate explores how we are stewards in so many other areas of our lives. We are also stewards of our time, mind, work, and technology to name a few.

I was thrilled to contribute a chapter to this anthology on stewardship of the body. How do we talk to, tend to, and use these bodies we were given in a way that honors ourselves and God? In my essay, “On Flesh,” I address how clear it is to me that bodies deeply matter to God and to Jesus in his life, death and resurrection. I explore how privilege is tied to disembodiment and how understanding and rejecting the mind-body dualism so rampant in our church’s history is one step toward healing and healthy embodiment.

Margaret P. Aymer’s essay on privilege is very exciting and deeply important. In many ways it is in conversation with my exploration of bodies. She rejects the idea of stewardship of privilege, but urges Christians toward the stewardship of incarnation, which unmasks the sin of societally constructed privilege. We, like Jesus, are born into a particular body and into a particular culture. “We are born, also, into a system of privileges reinforced by society. That system hierarchizes, or privileges, some incarnational realities over others” (64). On the cross, Jesus empties himself of privilege, not incarnation. We can also experience the self-emptying of kenosis. Only through kenosis are we capable of celebrating ubuntu, seeing ourselves as part of a deeply dependent web of being. Stewards of incarnation stand in solidarity with those hurt by the sin of privilege, willing to empty the self of that privilege over and over again for the sake of empowerment and capacity building for all. Solidarity will unearth more privilege that is holding us back from being fully incarnate. This spiritual discipline is cyclical, ongoing and imperfect. Christ calls us to it daily.

These two brief synopses are a small representation of the larger conversation presented in Beyond the Offering Plate. It’s great for individuals and churches interested in breaking the word stewardship wide open and as we work individually and collectively to become who God envisions us to be.

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