The Theology of Sitting


“The people who most impacted my life are the ones that just sat with me.”

My clients say things all of the time that affect me deeply, but this statement, uttered by a dear soul a few weeks ago, took my breath away. It wasn’t new insight for either of us; we’ve both spent countless, life-altering hours just sitting: together and apart. That’s sort-of how therapy works. But for whatever reason, this time it hit me a little differently.

When introduced to the idea of sitting, I suddenly felt like I was playing a game of hide and seek, and it was my turn. I started counting. One, two, three…could there be a theology to sitting? Four, five, six…if I look at the life of Christ, what would I learn about sitting? Seven, eight, nine, ten…what is it about sitting that yields life-change?

Ready or not…here I come.

There’s something really fun about having questions and then going to look for answers. The anticipation eventually leads to the thrilling excitement of: “There you are! I’ve found you!” And God loves a good, old-fashioned game of hide and seek. When we’re in hiding, he calls out to us, “Where are you?” And when it’s our turn, He makes it easy on us; He wants to be found.

I can’t wait to tell you what my little game of hide and seek yielded that day. Here goes.

If we look at the Gospels, we can see that Jesus’ time on earth was marked by tremendous action: healing, blessing, teaching, and leading. Traveling, feeding, preaching, and miracle-making. But he also did his fair share of sitting. Sacred sitting.

He sat in the living room with Mary while gently inviting Martha to join.

He sat upon the mountain with his disciples teaching them about the Kingdom and of what was to come.

He sat on Simon’s boat with the fishermen, using parables to explain His ideals.

He sat in the temple, watching and teaching the crowds of people who came.

He sat, reclined even, at the table with the betrayer, the denier and the sometimes clueless followers.

He sat on the donkey as he rode into the city.

He sat at the right hand of the Father, but not before he was ripped opened wide.

And in the end, when the heavens open, he’ll be sitting on the white horse. Faithful and True, he’ll sit.

In accordance with rabbinic tradition, teachers and leaders who were contemporaries with Jesus would actually stand, not sit, to teach and read from the scriptures in order to show their reverence and respect. We see Him stand at times, but Jesus often sat. Sitting was a cue to the people listening that whatever followed, whatever he taught or shared or did, was completely original, unique and new. Sitting was the signal that said, “What I bring into this world, no one else has ever brought before.”

Maybe that’s all we need to know; it’s a cue for us too. We are to sit with people and offer them the curative power of Jesus, an unconditional love that they have never been offered before.

Can we, as a people, do this? Can we lean into the humble, but sacred, posture that says, “I’m listening” and “I’m here”? Can we take our foot off the gas and stop striving, lecturing or pontificating? Are we willing to to rest in the patience of the position and ride on acceptance and non-judgment instead? Can we, in such a time as this, eliminate the power differential that standing upholds? Can we just sit as one, and of One, and embrace the theology of sitting?

Can we seek those who need us to sit?

Ready or not, here I come.

 

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