Scripture for this Sunday: 2 Samuel 6.1-5,12b-19 (David dances before the Ark of the Covenant); Psalm 24; Ephesians 1.3-14; Mark 6.14-29 (Herodias dances and John the Baptist is beheaded)
Dancing figures prominently in the celebrations of our time, and has done so for centuries. Marriages, for example, which are celebrations of love, prominently feature dancing.
Of course, not everyone is permitted the freedom to dance – such as 18 year old Iranian Maedeh Hojabri, who posted Instagram pictures of herself dancing, and was then arrested. Her treatment triggered a backlash in Iran as well as outside. Similarly, not everyone is permitted the dance of faith, through restriction or persecution.
So those of us who have the freedom to dance – both physically and metaphorically – might think seriously about how we exercise that freedom. Because there are many modern versions of Herodias performing a beguiling dance that has much less to do with joy than with greed, or lust, or any other number of diversions. And those dances result in promises that either cannot be met, or that should never have been made in the first place.
The life that God has given to us is an invitation to dance, a dance for joy, but sometimes the dance does not sit well with the people around us, who share the disdainful attitude of Michal, daughter of ex-king Saul, wife of new king, David. Michal might have been justified: in a couple of weeks, we are going to read about David’s dance with lust.
Rather than succumbing to the temptation to let the dance of life degenerate into greed or selfishness or any number of other dark places, we can accept God’s invitation to the dance that leads us out of darkness into light – a dance in which God has invested a great deal of love over many generations. Let’s be thankful that we have freedom to dance, and freedom to participate in the dance of faith to express our joy in living within God’s creation of love.
Let’s acknowledge that the world and its fate are in God’s loving hands, which gives us an obligation never to forget that the Christian calling is for hope and joy – to praise and glorify God. And that we might do so through dancing, in spirit if not in body. “Dance me to the end of love,” wrote Leonard Cohen. Indeed: may it be so.