It has become a bit of a personal custom over the past few years for to take extra time to contemplate and think during the season of Advent. A season of waiting. Often I use some material to help me and this year I have chosen to re-read Lisa Bodenheim’s ‘Disturbing Complacency‘ to guide me in my prayer and thinking.
This first day of Advent is an opportunity to ‘unlearn’ some stuff so that we can journey with a fresh mind, open to hearing and experiencing God in a new way . Today Bodenheim gets us to think about how we learned in western Christianity to affirm the spirit but not the body. To separate the two we ’embrace a narrow, superficial vision of God’s gift to us’.
Moltmann says: ‘If we wish to understand the Old Testament word ruach we must forget the word spirit which belongs to Western culture. The Greek word pneuma, the Latin spiritus, and the Germanic geist/ghost were always conceived as antitheses to matter and body. They mean something immaterial … But if we talk in Hebrew about Yahweh’s ruach we are saying: God is a tempest, a storm, a force in body and soul, humanity and nature.’
Is it such a challenging thought to move into Advent and let go of the western body-spirit dualism? As we prepare for the birth of Jesus, can we still hold on to the idea that our spirit is, in some way, superior to our body? How does that hold with how we view the body of Jesus? For … He is the long awaited saviour, fully human and fully divine.