Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for every matter under heaven.
“A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to uproot. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
If you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in the world right now, you may have noticed that there isn’t a lot of dancing going on. The streets are filled with anger all over the world. Everybody seems either angry or afraid of everything all the time.
Last week traveling to a national meeting, I waited in line to check into a motel behind someone obsessed with the location of their rental car. His sense of focus and urgency about the matter did not seem to match the situation. The hotel clerk explained slowly and courteously where he could park his car, as the man became increasingly agitated. It seemed to me that the man thought where he parked his car was a matter of life or death.
I commented to the desk clerk that this man seemed as if he were wound a little tightly, which was more polite than saying he was rude. I expressed concern for how difficult it must be to have such conversations with clients every day. “You have no idea”, he said. “In the few short years that I’ve worked here, people have become increasingly self-focused and self-absorbed. They want what they want, and they want it now. They’re really annoyed when for whatever reason things don’t happen the way they prefer it and on their timeline.”
We talked about anger, and fear, and the power of kindness and gratitude to change the world. Our dance of love with God provides an antidote to the world’s madness. When the world goes off the rails, we have two choices. We can either follow the world into the train wreck, or we can follow God’s lead into the dance of life. We can’t have it both ways. Whether or not we have two left feet, we dance with God whenever we honor God with our gratitude, whatever our circumstances.
People around the globe dance to honor the sacred, and people dance to lament the loss of those we love. New Orleans Jazz funerals represent a dance of lament that honors the one who died and honors the God who created him. While we dance in the imagination of our hearts to honor God, it also seems as if we’re in the midst of a universal dance of lament.
While people celebrate weddings and first steps and the sweetness of life, the broken world continues to break our hearts, sometimes both at the very same time. We wonder when to celebrate and when to cry. Often the best thing we can do is acknowledge that tension and do both, seeking God as we navigate the complexities of this world.
We dance with joy to the Lord every morning, for God’s mercies never cease. And we dance through the brokenness of lament. It is right to dance, because whatever happens this side of heaven, God is with us. Whatever befalls us, through faith we will dance again.
“Truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy”.
This is our prayer for us and for all our suffering world. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland, Senior Minister
The Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida