But Can You Dance To It?

September 12, 2012

Excerpt from Luke 7:24-35

"They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.'"

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

Among the most non-committal people in the world are young teenagers at their first dance.  They stand at the edge of the dance floor, all hands, and no place to put them.  They assume a look that struggles to be casual.  The look says, "Don't think I came here on purpose.  Somehow I just ended up in this place."

Looking in on this scene you might wonder, "What are they waiting for, anyway?  Waiting for the right dance partner to look in their direction?  Waiting for the right song?  Waiting to be a few years older?"

Jesus said people can be very much like that when it comes to religious commitment — they refuse to dance.  They are like those who sit in chairs around the edge of the hall for the entire evening.  They listen through waltz after fox-trot, after tango, after jitterbug, without so much as tapping a toe.  Finally, the piano player decides he's had enough:  "Hey, what do you folks want, anyway?"

"We'll know it when we hear it," they reply.  "Nothing you've played so far."

Some people avoid religious commitment in a similar way.  Nothing is ever quite right.  Their song is never played, or so it seems.

Those who remain forever on the sidelines may avoid the risk of commitment, but they will never experience the joy of dancing.  And the music always sounds better on the dance floor than it does from the sidelines.

As Gertrude Stein once observed, "You look ridiculous if you dance.  You look ridiculous if you don't dance.  So you might as well dance."

Prayer

God, don't let me remain forever noncommittal.  Get me on the dance floor so that I can truly hear the music.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

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