"Finally, brothers and sisters and siblings, we urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, you should do so more and more." - 1Thessalonians 4:1
A couple months after I finished chemotherapy, when my hair was just long enough that it could have been a cute lesbian hairdo instead of a chemo patient's, I went to Zumba for the first time. Zumba is world music and dance meets awkwardness, and requires extreme hubris or utter lack of self-consciousness.
I was all arms and legs and misdirection, but I didn't care. I was alive, and I was crunking! People must have wondered why this crazy white lady couldn't stop laughing out loud.
Time moved on. My hair grew long. I still love Zumba, but now I love it more when I get the moves right. I find I want to please my teacher with just how deftly I pop my twerks. There's still plenty of plain old joy in being alive, but it's heavily mingled with the drive and desire to be 'better.'
I wonder if our relationship with God isn't a little like this. When death is near, everything is precious, gratitude acute. Our joy fuels the universe, and that's all God asks of us.
And when the crisis passes, and we forget how precious and fleeting it all is, our desire to please God, our striving to right action, kicks on again. I suppose it's better than the alternative—forgetting God entirely.
Maybe it's God Herself who made us like this. Why wouldn't God ask more, from those who can do more, in this sacred, cosmic dance?
God, we're dancing as fast as we can. Let it be for the right things, the things that please You above all. Amen.
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA, and the author of the book Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too.