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Fad Workouts

Fad Workouts

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 – 7 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) // 119:121-144 (evening)

Isaiah 4:2-6

Ephesians 4:1-16

Matthew 8:28-34

Here are a few workout trends that I’ve exercised my way through in the past fifteen years: step aerobics, spinning, Tae-Bo, couch-to-10k, Jazzercise, stability ball, ballet barre, and three or four varieties of yoga. The benefit of following a trend here and there is that the variety keeps exercise just interesting enough to keep up the habit. However, I remember my step aerobics instructor lamenting the dwindling attendance in her class as the fitness fads left her behind. She worried that all the new yoga and Pilates fans wouldn’t get the cardiovascular stamina that they needed.

The author of today’s reading from Ephesians might have a similar critique of exercise trends . . . at least metaphorically. The letter warns Christians that trends and fads prevent us from achieving the height, strength, and agility of Christ’s body. If we let ourselves be pushed and pulled in many directions, we won’t grow toward our full potential.

As the passage says, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” (If there’s anything more trend-driven than diet and exercise, it might be parenting advice! Children are indeed “tossed to and fro” by the latest techniques for sleep, discipline, and education.)

Rather than receiving the brunt end of our world’s trends, which usually aim to sell us some book or gimmicky product, today’s passage has some advice for growing up: “speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

The direction of our growth is not only up toward Christ, but toward one another as parts of one body. The passage describes this body as “joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped.” A body with strong ligaments allows each part to work effectively, and this strong connective tissue “promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”

Today’s reading asks us to check in with all of the disciplines and habits of our lives and ask whether they’re merely trends, or whether they truly help us to grow. Are we growing up toward Christ, our head, by speaking the truth in love? Are we strengthening the ligaments in the body of Christ through mutual love, equipping one another to do more than we could alone?

Although trends in diet, exercise, spirituality, and worship come and go, we should make sure that our faith tests our strength, invites us to stretch, requires some real stamina, and gets our hearts pumping. Such faith keeps us growing up and growing together.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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