Lift Up Holy Hands

Kindred in Christ,

My ministry coach, Beth Estock, who is also the co-author of Weird Church: Welcome to the 21st Century, has influenced me to practice embodied prayers. As a way of growing from a posture where I was often swayed too easily by the fleeting circumstances of life (which is something I identified I wanted to work on), she offered me the imagery of The Way of the Grounded Oak Tree. The Oak Tree, Beth reminded me, is an intricate part of the rest of the forest life, deeply rooted among its fellow trees and connected to all living things simply by its being. It can weather a storm and is not easily moved, for it is deeply connected to the earth and its true value.

More than reflecting on this concept in my head, Beth offered me a somatic prayer practice where a few times a week I stand in wide legged mountain pose. Ground myself in the earth and feel my feet rooted in the ground and imagine power rising up through my body. I raise my arms up over my head in v shape to the sky and imagine I am drinking in the light and love of the universe.

At first, I found this practice to be weird and slightly uncomfortable. But the more I practiced it, the more I experienced freedom on a bodily level. This eventually translated into freedom in my emotions, mind, and spirit.

Last week we were joined by our friends from Acts on Stage and Townsend school of Music and Arts for our first Sunday in our worship collaboration series. We were led to practice worship in ways that are new and more embodied to some. Yet witnessing our hands raising and clapping, people dancing, and experiencing the energy and joy in our worship space, I know that we are being led to greater freedom. Freedom from the things that have kept our church and ourselves from being fully alive in the present moment. And freedom to Choose the Change God is offering us to make for the sake of relevant ministry in the U District.

I invite you to join us in-person this coming Sunday as we continue to explore the change God is calling us into and discern new ways to worship God together.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz