Today, we are honored to feature Erika Anderson as a guest blogger, who writes about the significance of our embodied lives. “Embody: Follow. Seek. Take.” is the theme behind an upcoming conference and public display in the Boston Common coordinated by Park Street Church. Erika is a farm girl from South Dakota but has called Massachusetts home for ten years. She is a lawyer and lives with her husband and three daughters in Brookline. Read below to hear the theme behind the conference, about how Jesus beckons each of us to “embody, follow, seek, and take.”
“Failure to honor God in the material realm cannot be compensated for by religiosity in the spiritual realm.” ~Chris Wright
Jesus’ arrival on Earth forever negated the notion that material does not matter. The entire material universe matters to God – He created it, and He called it good. And He took on flesh and walked and ate and breathed among us. With us. Even Jesus’ miracles cannot be separated from the body. Guests celebrated by drinking new wine; newly whole bodies walked, and leaped and praised God. When Jesus speaks of who will inherit his Father’s kingdom, he speaks of welcoming bodies: “As you have done to the least of these, you have done onto me” (Mt 25:40).
The Son of God put on flesh and moved into our neighborhood. This is called incarnation. Christianity can become an intellectualized set of ideas rather than a way of life. This is called excarnation. Jesus of Nazareth invites us to embody his life in the world.
To embody is to give a tangible or visible form to. During the past year, we have been instructed to keep our bodies at home, to keep our bodies distanced, to keep our bodies safe. Yet, as Christians, we are still called to continue to embody the presence of Jesus. We are called to give a tangible form to Jesus’ love in a city that is scared, isolated, unmoored from the familiar, and uncertain about the future. As we dreamed about a conference to engage our city, we knew we wanted to tell stories of Jesus still embodied even this year – perhaps especially this year.
We have invited voices from our city to share their stories, and we invite you to a different kind of a conference: “Embody: Follow. Seek. Take.” EMBODY is a week of community happenings about incarnating the Presence of Jesus in the City.
We will consider three of Jesus’ invitations and promises through the lenses of these voices in the city:
(1) Follow me and I will make you fishers of the human race (Mt 4:19). We will walk through our neighborhoods and pray for our neighbors. We will listen to the voices of city pastors share how they created community and reached people when their doors were closed. We will hear from professionals – teachers, doctors, professional musicians, and entrepreneurs who pivoted their livelihoods and faced a health crisis unlike our city has ever seen and still found purpose, still found the kingdom at work in the midst of crisis.
(2) Seek first my kingdom, and I will add all these things to you (Mt 6:33). We will hear from an author and creator of authentic communities, Hugh Halter, speak about mission as the everyday stuff of life. We will hear voices in our city from those who sewed thousands of masks to keep our communities safe, who distributed groceries to families. We will hear how kingdom seekers fought food insecurity: from writing grants to support food pantries to food banks packing hundreds of pounds of food each week. We will hear children and teens who shared sandwiches and conversation with people experiencing homelessness at warming centers.
(3) Take my yoke, and you will find rest for your souls (Mt 11:29). Church planter and Park Street Church lead pastor, Mark Booker, will share a good word on taking Jesus’ yoke to find Jesus’ rest. We will hear from college students sharing how they have seen the embodied presence of Jesus during disruption on their campuses. And we will close the Embody conference with a special candlelight vigil, of gratitude for Jesus’ invitations and promises, gratitude for his continued embodied presence among us.
In a special photography exhibit in the Boston Common throughout the weekend, Hope Rising, we will invite the public to view photographs of people who live and work in our city and listen to their voices share their hopes and dreams for our city. We will invite each of you to add your photo and your hopes and dreams, too. These and so many more opportunities await you to follow, seek, and take during the Embody conference, April 11-18.
The kingdom continues.
Find out more at https://www.parkstreet.org/cityengagement/embody-conference/