I love to dance! – I’m not very good at it –
but dancing just makes me happy. There’s something about the togetherness, whether it’s with one special beloved, or a whole group of family and friends. The music, the energy, the laughter. At times silly, at times tender and at other times just crazy letting loose; the vast range of emotions, and movements and all that is happening.
You know, from very ancient days of our faith, the early Church mothers and fathers have told us that there is a dance in life which we are all invited to join. It is the dance of the Holy Trinity, a feast of love which celebrates the dance of ‘who God is’ and ‘how God is God with us.’ The Creator, the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, dancing with each other. The three are mutual and necessary to each other, and the wondrous thing is, in this lovely metaphor, they make space, for us to join them in the divine dance.
This is a dance of love! It’s about relationship, forgiveness, communion,– it is the twists and turns of life with each other and with God – birth, and learning and growing, joy, sorrow and death; but always, always resurrection – the dance never ends.
Even in the midst of a Pandemic, the dance continues.
In the Word today, I want to focus on the first reading. We have this beautiful love story between (the LORD) Adonai and Moses, and their dance. Greeting each other, circling round each other, introducing the Who of who they are – God greets Moses with “let me tell you about myself: I am merciful and gracious, and if we are to dance together, you must learn the steps of mercy and graciousness.
I am patient, slow to anger, even if you step on my foot.
I am rich! But I’m not talking about money –I am rich in HESED!” And Moses knew what hesed was – this was the kind of love every human heart longs for – faithful loving kindness. Love that never gives up. So Moses just falls in love with God, this Voice speaking in his heart, in the depths of his very soul…
This God - dancing in the fiery bush,
in the wind-blown grasses,
in the billowing clouds surrounding him high on Mount Sinai.
‘Yes, I want to dance with you, Holy One, O yes!’ And I want my family and my friends to dance with you, Adonai. And Moses offers so sweetly, “Do come along in our company.” What a prayer! What a prayer for us today.
But then Moses has that hesitant worry about sharing his whole self, … what he’s ashamed of… his failures, butbecause this relationship can only be real, if he is real – he has to share his darkness. It’s a necessary part of the dance.
Moses painfully admits: we are a stiff-necked people, we are really messed up.”
“Psshh! Didn’t I tell you I was merciful and gracious? I’m rich in hesed?”
And Adonai did come along in their company. And, the dance continued.
They did step on God’s toes quite a lot.
Our human clumsiness broke the heart of God, again and again. But God, being who God is, came even closer, and became humanly one of us, to show us more clearly the steps of the dance. We watch Jesus in his human walk, dance with God. If we listen well, we can hear the music of the Spirit, which is the love song between them.
And as Jesus describes the dance, it’s all about being healed and made whole, because that is the meaning of being saved – the Greek word SOZO in today’s Gospel. Look around you – what is happening today in this world-wide crisis. All of humanity is being invited into the dance. The Ancients said that the kiss between the Creator and the Redeemer is the Holy Spirit. The kiss, the love I see in the world today is so exquisite, so profound.
For the past few weeks, every Sunday I’ve been doing a Zoom with my 3 brothers and 3 sisters. And at the first one, one of my brothers kept stepping out of his screen and then he’d come back. At the end when we were all giving virtual hugs and kisses, he said, he had to keep stepping out because he kept filling up with tears because he loves us all so much.
We are being saved, and we are being called to save others in every possible way we can.
Keep dancing my sisters and brothers. Follow the hesed steps of the Creator and Redeemer,
and may the music, the rhythm, the kiss and the love of the Holy Spirit Be with you!
Sharon Zaenglein Chipman
Sharon Zaenglein Chipman
Sharon Chipman is a retired lay ecclesial minister who has served in campus ministry and parish ministry for over 40 years. She earned her Masters of Divinity degree from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, CA, and her MA in Theology from The Graduate Theological Union, also in Berkeley. Sharon has done much preaching over the years in retreat and liturgical settings. She has worked in a variety of ministry settings and with every age group from kindergarteners to seniors.
Sharon’s years of study and ongoing friendship with the Franciscan Friars of the Santa Barbara Province has been a rich gift in her life and faith. For the past 15 years she has been immersed in the Ignatian tradition as well, working with a team sharing the Spiritual Exercises.
Sharon grew up in Macon, Georgia, in a large Catholic family. She was a Sister of Mercy for 12 years which she credits for her deepest spiritual formation. She married John Chipman in 1992 and they grew a blended family of 7 children and 12 grandchildren (so far). Sharon and John live in Oakland, CA and enjoy life among their family and faith communities.
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