This last weekend I had the opportunity to worship with another congregation in another city. It was refreshing to hear the stories they are telling about God’s presence in their midst, to be reminded that God is at work in places beyond Hope Uniting and university ministries. We heard reflection on Scripture and experiences from within the community and we shared communion together. But the most touching moment for me was not part of the formal liturgy.
During the service, two little girls danced through each of the hymns. They twirled and laughed loudly at the front of the church. They were comfortable in the space and in themselves, not a touch of self-consciousness or holding themselves back. They exuded pure joy. And I couldn’t help myself but smile at seeing their presence in the moment.
There is something contagious about joy. And there is something that can feel a little illusive. Those girls knew that their church was a place they were welcome and loved. It was a place that dancing was possible. The must have experienced in their community the love of a God who will join in their laughing, take their hands and twirl them around just a little bit more. This God, this community, wouldn’t hold them at arm’s length, but would make a place for them to be nurtured and grow in faith and in love. It’s the kind of place that we want our congregation to be.
The dancing of these girls was not peripheral to the worship service. Their act of joy was brought as front and centre as their dancing was prominent in the space. For as the minister stood up to offer the final blessing, he held his hands out down towards them and then drew his gaze up to the rest of us standing in our pews.
“May you, too, dance with joy and be caught up in God’s joyful dance in the world.”
As we begin to move from summer days at the beach and long weekends, to patterns of work, study and family life, I hope we can catch hold of some of the joy of those two dancing girls. I hope that we can catch onto the infectious joy that comes from experiencing God’s presence in our midst. And I hope that others we encounter won’t be able to help themselves, but will catch our joy- the joy of the dance of God in the world!