Kneel, Sit, Stand: The Embodiment of Spirituality

We used to joke about the dilemma that visitors to an Episcopal church typically face.  Do you “kneel, sit, or stand?”  

I’ve been in a few parishes that have even tried to help with the question.  Unfortunately, far too many of the efforts focus on practice and practicalities.  Not enough of them focus on the inner logic of worship. 

Spiritual practice is not just about the mind or the soul.  We are not “Tinkerbell” trapped in bodies.

We are body, mind, and soul — an inextricable unity.  What we do with our bodies is reflected in our souls.  What our souls motivate us to do is enacted by the way in which we use our bodies. 

So, do you kneel, sit, or stand?  Many of the answers are imbedded in seasons of celebration and reflection.  We stand during Easter, the saved, resurrected,  and hoped for image of God.  During Lent we kneel, aware of our created nature.  During other times of the year we sit, beings mindful of our need for rest and trust. 

The genius of worship is that it calls on us to act like the people that we are: neither masters of the universe, nor its cast offs.  We are the beloved children of God, transparent in body, mind, and spirit to the one who made us.


About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.