catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 10 :: 2013.05.10 — 2013.05.23


Dancing lessons

Our worship theme one year during Advent centered on the image of a rose, opening from bud to full bloom.  Each Sunday a glass vase with a rose, carefully chosen for its stage of bloom, stood on the railing at the front of the chancel.  On the third Sunday an almost fully opened rose nestled in its spray of fern and babies breath — a beautiful sight.

I waited at the rear of the sanctuary to process with the choir during the first hymn.  My friend Deb joked as she often did about her fear of knocking over the flowers as we climbed the steps to the chancel.  I smiled and made light of her worries.

The organ swelled, the congregation rose, the cross-bearer led the way up the aisle and the choir followed in measured strides, eyes on our music.  We reached the steps.  I glanced at my partner on the left and began to climb.  Then the robe of the person ahead of me swirled as she turned past the railing, and I heard a soft thud.  I didn’t realize the vase had fallen until my foot landed on something springy. 

Dismayed, I stumbled up the last step and turned to see Deb behind me, frantically replacing the vase on the railing.  It wobbled a little, and I reached out to steady it, slowing the procession for a moment, wondering if everyone had noticed our combined clumsiness.  The rose didn’t look too bad, but the broken fern drooped drunkenly on one side where I had stepped on it.  The arrangement had lost its pristine beauty, and several moments passed before my cheeks lost their blush.

Scripture for that morning included Mary’s Magnificat.  As the pastor read from Luke 1, an artist from our congregation draped a long swath of fabric around Linda, a dancer.  The fabric transformed itself into a robe and veil, and Linda became Mary before our eyes. 

At the conclusion of the reading, both ladies artfully arranged the swoops and folds of fabric over the pulpit and railing.  I watched them, especially Linda, comparing her smooth, controlled, graceful movements with my earlier stumbling, and I was chagrined.  The contrast was acute.

Linda used her skill in liturgical dance again during Lent.  I can still see her agonized crouch, arms twisted and bent behind her back to symbolize the heavy cross Jesus bore.  I mentioned to her at the time how much her dancing enriched my worship.

“The way you interpret the scripture with your movements is so meaningful,” I told her.  “And it seems so effortless and natural for you.”

She laughed and shook her head.  “There’s nothing ‘effortless’ about dancing,” she said.  “Only painful years of training and work enable me to move like that, bending my body in ways it doesn’t want to move.”

Sometimes we look at other believers and marvel at their faith, which seems so much stronger than ours, or their wisdom, which seems inscrutable to us, or their willingness to give of themselves for others, which we can’t seem to duplicate.  They do it so effortlessly, we think, as if it comes naturally to them.  God must have given them a special measure of grace to be as they are.

But we might be wrong.  There may be another reason we seem to be stumbling up the stairs of sanctification while others soar gracefully ahead of us.  The word discipline comes to mind, as in these verses from Hebrews 12:

God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  (vs. 10b-12)

Maybe we need to grasp the grace of God that is sufficient for all believers, and let God train us to move in ways that don’t seem natural, and might even be painful.

Maybe we need dancing lessons.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus