Dancing Desmond, Dancing Jesus, Dancing You


Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently was awarded the Templeton Prize  for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. He walked to a ceremony in his honor at the Cathedral of St George in Cape Town, South Africa, to the happy sound of drums and singing. During the ceremony, spoke to the crowd gathered, and after his talk, he stood on stage and danced with the Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Ensemble. It was a joyful sight.

Scholars tell us that one of the oldest verses in the Hebrew Bible is a couplet in Exodus, a snippet of a song performed by Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, on the far shore of the Red Sea. YWHW had delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army, bringing them safely through the waters of the Red Sea as they escaped from Egypt, headed for the promised land. As soon as the Israelites reached the other side, Miriam and the women took out their tamborines and sang and danced to YHWH in gratitude.

In 2000, a made-for-TV miniseries called “Jesus,” directed by Roger Young and starring Jeremy Sisco as Jesus, was aired by CBS. Unlike many other Jesus-movies, this one showed Jesus having a playful side. He danced. Some of the reviewers of the show objected to this: Jesus surely did not dance! (Did he?) Jesus was always serious! (Wasn’t he?)

Well. I like the idea of a dancing Jesus myself.

Have you danced for joy lately? Do you ever dance for joy? Or does worry about being taken seriously hold you back?

My sisters and brothers, we have been saved! We are reconciled to God! Jesus has defeated death for all of us! Why shouldn’t we dance? Why shouldn’t the world see the joy we have in our salvation, in the knowledge that God loves us that much? Do we really share the Good News best by being self-conscious and serious?

I like the idea of dancing Christians. How about you?

Just get out there and dance. Be joyful. If this is hard for you, take small steps. Hum a little hum, skip a few steps on your way to church, or better yet do that on your way out of church.
-Penny Nash

4 thoughts on “Dancing Desmond, Dancing Jesus, Dancing You

  1. George E. Hilty

    Right on! Two other examples support your joy: (1) as the ark of The Lord came into David’s city, David was seen “leaping and dancing before the LORD” notwithstanding the kill joy protests of Michal, his wife and Saul’s daughter, who thought it “vulgar” and undignified for a king [2 Samuel 6:16-21]; (2) our Eastern Orthodox siblings think of the Holy Trinity in an eternal dance of love and joy; they have a term for it–something like “perichoresis,”but that is pushing my memory and my limited Greek. This is Eastertide! What better season for rejoicing!

  2. Penny Nash

    Thank you, George, for those apt additions! Yes, David danced and his wife didn’t like it. There you go.

    And yes, perichoresis is the word you were looking for.

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