Goning for a walk: exegeting a congrsgation.

Author:Faiz, Andrew

REV. JANET RYU-CHAN STARTED the day with a body prayer--a prayer we pray with the body, not with words.


"You take your hands," she started, "and face them down. Then face them up. Then wrap your arms around yourself. And then spread your arms. And repeat...

"So... breathe in, breathe out, exhale for eight counts, and inhale for four counts. We breathe in, one, two, three, four, and exhale, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and inhale, one, two, three, four, palms down. Lord, we may imagine the foot of the cross, or a shoreline as the waves come to us, and we send out to you anything that might be weighing on us. We entrust it all to you, in a moment of silence...

"Lord, we face our palms to heaven as a sign of our trust in you. Lord, we know you are with us in this moment, space and time, so fill us, Lord, in a moment of silence...

"Lord, we wrap our arms around ourselves as an act of gratitude for the love you generously give to us...

"Lord, we take our arms and spread them apart as a call to spread your word, to make disciples of all whom we encounter."

We did it again--breathe in, breathe out, long exhale, short inhale, palms down, palms up, wrapped arms, spread arms--in silence. A prayer expressed by the body, after the body has been cleansed to utter the prayer.

And then we went for a walk.

Almost a dozen from Morningside-High Park, Toronto, had met at the church on a Saturday in June to go for a walk around the immediate neighbourhood. There was no real agenda, other than to see what the neighbourhood looked like.

Morningside-High Park, like so many churches, is in transition. Rev. Ryu-Chan came on as minister this January. There are new members who do not live within walking distance--I'm one, for example. Others on the walk included Elaine and Sharon, two sisters, who moved to this church after their Presbyterian church closed.

Jack still lives in the house his parents bought in the '50s; he became a member two decades ago. Lauren and his family joined eight years ago; Marc, and his family, a while earlier. Both families have been active members since. Emily moved out of the local area recently and was a part of the church family for a while. And Hildy came to Morningside-High Park through her husband, whose family has been involved in the community for decades.

Just our touring group, then, represents church in transition, with some veterans, some recent leaders, and some newbies.

We were on an exegetical walk...

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