By Rachel Burkey
Throwback to 2010 – Tim Tebow throws an 80-yard pass to take a 27-point lead on the University of Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Tebow immediately gets down on one knee in a quiet moment of prayer, following the pass, despite the stadium around him going crazy. In this act that would become known as ‘Tebowing’, so much controversy developed around it that it became more superior in the news than Tebow’s actual athletic performance. So why would such a small gesture create such a big response?
If you ever have been to an old German church, you may recollect the hard, wooden kneelers that are worn down from the thousands of people that have gone before you and knelt in that exact place. It may seem like a step back into the Middle Ages compared to the new church around the corner that either has excess padding or no kneelers at all. The reality is that churches in many faiths and cities are moving away from the practice of kneeling, and it may seem like a relief to our knees, no matter how old we are, but as Tebow’s example proves, the act of kneeling is something to take notice of.
Kneeling is not just an individual act that happens at certain times in the Mass. It is a WHOLE person experience: mind, body, and soul.
Kneeling Strengthens the Mind: There are many health benefits to kneeling, but we also know that after an extensive period of time, it can become uncomfortable. Our mind wanders, and before we know it, it becomes a game of ‘where is my breaking point’? In Matthew 26:41, Jesus says to the apostles, “the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Even Jesus recognizes our weaknesses and our trials, but just like any sport, we can challenge ourselves for a greater good. We are building up our mental stamina, which will not only help us in life, but in our own spiritual journey as we encounter bumps and potholes in our faith.
Kneeling Strengthens the Body: Kneeling chairs are becoming more and more popular around the world? Why? Kneeling is full of health benefits. Did you know that kneeling while eating aids the digestive process? Kneeling also provides a deep stretch for your lower body and is often used as a meditative pose to lower heart rates and relieve pressure points. It is no coincidence that we kneel during the consecration or in a state of adoration. Who else can bring us total peace? Who else can lift and carry our burdens and relieve our stress? Who else leads us by still waters and refreshes our soul? Jesus stands in front of us, offering all of Himself, offering to carry our burdens. Let him.
Kneeling Strengthens the Soul: The physical suffering you experience as you kneel is not an empty act. Your posture goes from one that is tall and royal to small and low to the ground. The art of kneeling is a lesson in humility, a reminder that He is greater. Our society functions much out of ego…social media is proof of that. People compare the number of likes, shares, retweets as if that is the determination of their status, but the reality is that in the presence of the King, we come before Him as sinners, as His children who have done wrong. In this egoistic society, kneeling is a worthy lesson of who we are and who we should strive to become.
If the whole body experience isn’t enough, let’s add one more dimension. Kneeling is not just a personal experience, but a social one. It is catechetical and evangelical in nature because it is not something that we do quietly, such as contemplative prayer. It is a visible act that people witness, so as we kneel down, not only are we making a public act of faith, but we are also through our actions spreading the faith. Why is it that the ‘Tebow’ became such a hot topic of conversation? It was because in that simple gesture, Tim Tebow made a public act of faith that he was NOT number one, but all glory comes from someone greater than he. It raised awareness of the Christian faith, that there is Someone Who deserved the glory more than he did. Who is this person? Who could be so great that a man would choose to honor Him in such a public way?
My challenge for you? Bring back the Tebow! The rewards will transform you in mind, body, and soul, and maybe, just maybe, will inspire someone else to seek the One who is above all things. #BringBacktheTebow
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Burkey is originally from Nashville, TN, but currently resides in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in German and Italian, her Master's in Education from Lipscomb University, and is currently working on her Master's in Theology at Saint Mary's Seminary in Cleveland, OH. She teaches theology at Gilmour Academy and also functions as a LifeTeen music director at several parishes within the diocese. In addition to her teaching and music ministries, she enjoys spending much of her time writing liturgical music, leading worship around the country, and speaking at retreats and other conferences.