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For so long, we, the church, have focused on knowing and believing the right things. We read and ponder and debate and write, using all our intellectual power to make sense of God and the world around us. In the all consuming search to possess knowledge, and the right kind of knowledge, I fear we have lost sight of the goodness and importance of being embodied image bearers and loving our neighbors as such.

Black and brown bodies are being murdered in the streets, women are being assaulted at alarming rates, children are being abused and kept in cages, eating disorders plague us, people are self-harming, and on and on. It seems obvious to me that we need to reexamine how we think about bodies.

Bodies are not disposable, they are the residence of the Spirit of God. It seems in our white, western society bodies are not viewed as good and valuable — at least not all bodies. And for too long the Church has fallen short and been too quiet when it comes to teaching the goodness of our bodies. For so long the focus has been on knowing and believing the right things. But friends, I think we need to learn how to experience God and know God in our bodies, not just our minds.

While in seminary I discovered how important our bodies are. I learned that my body holds my emotions and she works hard to keep me safe. She knows when something is not right and keeps me tethered to the present moment. I have experienced God more fully since learning to trust and listen to my body.

This is one of the best gifts of the Resurrection: it was not just Jesus’ soul or spirit that was resurrected, it was Jesus’ whole self, body included. After leaving the tomb Jesus hugs friends, eats fish, and walks around. In case the Incarnation was not enough affirmation of our bodies, the Resurrection brings it home. Our bodies are not meant to be shed or lost, but rather affirmed and embraced.

In her book, Try Softer, author and therapist, Aundi Kolber speaks about the goodness of our bodies and the importance of paying attention to the messages our bodies are giving us. She says, “So many of us were taught to fear, abhor, or disconnect from our bodies. As a result, we may mistreat or neglect them. Yet ultimately, we must learn to live in our bodies if we are to pursue wholeness and integrated lives in which we are connected to ourselves, others, and God.”

To connect with God we must be connected with our bodies. We do not have bodies, we are bodies.

Our bodies give us messages of pain, pleasure, fear, and safety. By listening to these messages and responding to them with care we become more present to ourselves which ultimately allows us to be more present to others and to the world around us. In other words, attention to our bodies is necessary to the practice of loving God and loving our neighbors.

In light of this and in celebration of Easter — Jesus’ bodily resurrection — these next weeks I will invite us to pay closer attention to our bodies and discover the ways we might encounter God and be more present to ourselves, God, and others in our bodies, specifically through our five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

We will look at some passages of Scripture as we consider what it means to encounter God through our senses. We will ask questions to help guide our thinking and experiences. Questions like, how do my senses keep me tethered to the present moment? What does my body teach me about God? How do I experience the Good News in my body?

Perhaps being present in and to your body is new for you and you are reading this with some skepticism. Welcome, I’m glad you’re here. I hope that the next few weeks will help you take a small step towards coming home to your body and encountering God in a new way.

Perhaps you are very comfortable in your body. I’m glad you’re here too and I hope you continue to grow in gratitude and admiration for your body and for the ways you meet God there. I look forward to our next few weeks together and can’t wait to see what we discover.

Katie Alley

Katie Alley serves as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Formation at Second Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa. She loves taking long walks with her dog Twyla, driving with the windows down, and sipping chai lattes with friends. You can find more of her writing at 


  • Jim Payton says:

    Intriguing, inviting — looking forward to this.

  • Thomas Boogaart says:

    I too am looking forward to this. It seems that we theologians often forget that we talk about God (third person) in order to talk to God (second person). Coram deo, face to face, personal, embodied.

  • Travis West says:

    I love the direction you’re going with this, Koki. I can’t wait to follow you down the path over the next few weeks.

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