I admit it used to be easy to know what to do in Church – just copy the person in front of you. In fact, when it came to standing, sitting, kneeling during worship it really wasn’t complicated. The rule was, you stand to sing, sit to listen and kneel to pray. The exceptions were the Gospel and the Creed. We stood for the Gospel as a sign of respect; it is the part of scripture that proclaims Jesus as the resurrected Lord. We stood for the Creed because a statement of faith is like giving an oath.
And you know what, if that was what you were taught and that’s what you’ve grown accustom to, I see no reason to change.
However, some of us have been taught that it is also appropriate to stand when praying. There are numerous examples in scripture of standing for prayers. Standing for prayer was the custom in the early Church. Standing for prayer is a symbol of both celebration (at the Good News) and of the resurrection (of Jesus Christ). A way for us to express with our bodies the resurrection.
Kneeling is now seen by many people as a posture appropriate for penitence and standing appropriate for celebration.
So, who’s right? We all are. To say that one posture is right for everyone seems rather silly to me. And I know that it is difficult to choose a posture that the people around you haven’t chosen. I worshipped everyday in the chapel at Trinity College for three years and I grew accustom to a variety of postures happening at one time. People from all over the world, with many different ways of doing things worshipping together is quite comforting to me now.
There was one woman who crossed herself many times while genuflecting and muttering some prayer to herself. She did this several times during the service and the sermon. Even after I had her explain it to me I couldn’t discern a pattern to what she did, but I was glad to worship with her and that her faith was so alive that it didn’t matter to her if anyone else understood what she was doing. Her worship, like ours is between us and God.
I encourage everyone to express our joy in prayer with a posture that either feels right to us or is simply comfortable. We can rest assured that no one else at St. Paul’s Church will judge us. In fact, we a joyful that we are not all the same.