Come, Join the Dance of Trinity
"Trinity" and "Dancing." I suspect that those are not two words that we are used to using in the same breath. But here they are together in this hymn. It invites us to imaginatively capture the implications of the Trinity for faith and life through the playfulness of dance. It resonates with this week's lessons from Proverbs and the Psalms in tracing the beginnings of the dance to the Trinity's loving presence in the delightful work of creation. The dance encompasses the story of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The dance goes on in the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. And it continues as we are drawn into the circle of the dance, now set free from the weight of sin, to join in singing the "praises of the Three, the Father, Spirit, Son." Perhaps the fittingly bouncy rhythm and tune might release a toe-tap. Or maybe we might even stand up and move a little, so our bodies can teach our minds a thing or two. For indeed, there is power in this dance to shape our lives anew.
O God of the Dance, release our beings, heart, soul, mind, and body, to join in the playfulness and joy of the Trinity. From creation, to Resurrection, to Pentecost, let the rhythms of your love draw us in and teach how to step out in freedom and new life. Amen.
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The theologians in the early church tried to describe this wonderful reality that we call Trinity. If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing. There is a Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, and possibly some of you have been to a Greek festival. There is a particular term in Greek that they used to describe a dance. It's called perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance.
The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, "That's what the Trinity is like." It's a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it's what the Trinity is all about. The perichoresis is the dance of love.
But it's not like much of the dancing we see so often. Have you watched Dancing with the Stars lately? In ballroom dancing, there are only two people involved. When only two people are involved, there is a certain exclusivity to their dance. No one else is invited to be a part. They are so intent on each other that there is no room for anyone else.
But the dance of Trinity is not like that. The dance of the Trinity is more like square dancing. We have some square dancers here in our congregation. When one is square dancing, one is dancing not with just one person, but with the whole group. That's more like the dance of the Trinity.
When I was in 5th grade, our music teacher (Mrs. Parlor) was determined to teach us how to square dance. She asked us for volunteers. I breathed a sigh of relief because some of the kids volunteered, which meant I could sit on the sidelines and be a spectator. But as they began square dancing, they looked like they were having so much fun, that more and more kids started to get involved. Not me. I remained frozen in my chair. Finally, I was the only kid still sitting down. All of a sudden, someone (I don't know who) grabbed my arm and pulled me out of my seat. Before I knew what was happening, I was in the middle of the square, dosey-doing with the rest of them. And after a few minutes, I started to enjoy it too.
That's what salvation is: when God jerks us out of our complacency and makes us part of his dance: perichoresis. Thank you, Mrs. Parlor, for giving this reluctant music student his first lesson about the Trinity, this invitation to share in God's life.
What about you? When was the last time God jerked you up and made you part of something so wonderful that you could never have asked for it on your own?