Last night at our Lenten meditation Hannah gave us a handful of coins as we thought about Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, and I found myself more moved by this than I expected. It set me thinking about the place of touch/physical actions in prayer and worship.
Within some kinds of church/worship people will kneel, genuflect, cross themselves, and bow at particular points of the service; within others they will raise their hands while singing. Neuro Linguistic Programming, whilst scientifically discredited, has a technique which might explain this. Anchoring allows emotion states to be tied to physical actions. The idea is that if you feel an emotional state and carry out a physical action a few times, then in future carrying out the physical action can create the emotional state. This seems plausible, as it is very reminiscent of Pavlov’s Dog (a well loved joke runs: “knock, knock”, “who’s there”, “Pavlov”).
Church is very often based upon hearing or seeing, less so on touching (although for some who live alone the Peace is the only time in the week that they might touch another human being), perhaps it is time to bring more touching or movement into worship.