just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Power of Symbolic Gestures

"Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are in the way and when we are still. Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the poor's sake; without toil, for the sick, since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of evils; for He has triumphed over them in it, having made a shew of them openly; for when they see the Cross, they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, Who hath bruised the heads of the dragon. Despise not the Seal, because of the freeness of the Gift; but for this rather honor thy Benefactor." -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D. 315 - 386

I have been thinking about the power of some of the gestures we use as Christians in our worship and spirituality. At Sunnyside Mennonite Church, you might see hands outstretched in worship. Hands raised can be a sign of adoration and exaltation.

During the sending prayer and benediction many hold out their hands as a symbol of wanting to receive God's blessing and empowerment as we go out into the week, to live, work and witness. The symbol of open arms outstretched is powerful in that it acknowledges that I need God, I don't have what it takes to make it on my own. It is a sign of humility and dependency.

The other Sunday, I invited those who were able to kneel during the call to worship as we prayed a prayer of confession. Kneeling before the cross, as we come into our corporate worship, another powerful expression of humility and acknowledging the worthiness of God.

There are other gestures that we Christians use as a part of our faith journey. Footwashing. Receiving communion with cupped hands.

I include below an article on the power of making the sign of the cross in Christian tradition. From the time of the apostles, it appears that this gesture has also been a part of Christian worship and practice.

Come, thou long expected Jesus!