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The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts
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Third Sunday After the Epiphany

Week of January 23, 2022
Scripture: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
(Nehemiah 8:5, NRSV)


The school I attended from 7th to 12th grade had, and still has, a really amazing way of greeting guest speakers for assemblies. We would all be seated for the introduction of the speaker, and then when the individual walked out of the wings toward the podium, we would all silently stand up. No clapping, just an entire auditorium of students rising as one, out of respect to the person giving us their time and wisdom on a random rainy Tuesday at 10:20.

I love that. That is so unique and special.

We stand for very important things, in body or in spirit as we are able. I attended a performance of the Messiah a few weeks ago and we stood for the Hallelujah Chorus without being instructed to do so. We stand when the bride comes down the aisle and the wedding starts. We stand for the national anthem. In my Catholic elementary school, we stood for prayers several times a day. Standing means something – respect, reverence, a bodily action that says wake up, pay attention, this is important.

In this week's verse, Ezra opened the book of the law of Moses and all the people present stood up. What they were about to hear was meaningful and sacred, and they used their bodies to say so. We may not always be in a position to stand, but it can be a deepening spiritual practice to use our bodies in prayer and worship. Try opening your hands on your lap, palms up. Try putting your hands together in the way you may have prayed as a child. Try putting a hand over your heart. When you can, stand. Kneel. Use your body in whatever way is fitting to mark the occasion on your journey with God, because all the points along the way are important and sacred and worthy of all our attention and respect.


God, open us to all the ways to connect to you. We thank you and we love you. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN  

Photo: Gabriella Clare Marino / Unsplash


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