The Spirit Skips, God Dances

During worship at Multnomah Meeting on Sunday I kept thinking about the fact that it was Pentecost Sunday and reflecting on the Holy Spirit. One thought, given the context of worship, was that although there were many language represented in Acts 2, the Spirit was the one language all could understand. God’s gift to us is a common language that context those of us who speak different languages and who come from very different backgrounds. Rather than trying to make everyone the same, or building a sectarian, and therefore false, unity, the Holy Spirit creates unity-in-difference. This is the formation and pattern the church was meant to follow, and it is the one we so often neglect.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

At another point a child came into the room where we were worshiping in silence and skipped from one side to the other to see his mother. What instantly came to my mind was the movement of the Spirit, and how God’s Spirit surely is more like this child skipping across our worshiping spaces, than like one of us adults who so gingerly and awkwardly maneuver into the room hoping to not make a sound. I love how this young boy burst into the room, with reckless determination, make his presence felt, and joyfully bounced toward the one he loved.

This is not a new metaphor for the Spirit’s movement:

“In the early church, one of the most powerful images used for the Trinity was the image of a dance of mutual indwelling. The Father, Son, and Spirit live in an eternal, joyful, vibrant dance of love and honor, rhythm and harmony, grace and beauty, giving and receiving. The universe was created to be an expression and extension of the dance of God – so all creatures share in the dynamic joy of movement, love, vitality, harmony, and celebration. But we humans broke with the dance. We stamped on the toes of other dancers, ignored the rhythm, rejected the grace, and generally made a mess of things. But God sent Jesus into the world to model for us a way of living in the rhythm of God’s music of love, and ever since, people have been attracted to the beauty of his steps and have begun rejoining the dance.”

-Brian McLaren, Found in Translation

I would like to see our communities remember that the movement of God’s spirit in, through and around us is one that active, joyful, involves our whole being, our whole body, and gets us moving again. It was fitting that after worship, Betsey Kenworthy, the presiding clerk of the meeting invited us to sing the old hymn “Spirit of the Living God,” set to dance.

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.