A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Perspective

Our family just returned from a week-long adventure at Cumberland Dance Week. This was our SEVENTH year attending, and we have been on the planning committee now for three years.

The dance camp is sponsored by the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, a non-profit whose goal is to further American folk dance traditions. Now, a lot of thoughts have been percolating in my mind this week when I've been resting. (A note here...I rested a lot this year...more on that later.) What constitutes American folk dance traditions?

When we think of American folk dance, the most prevalent dance that comes to mind is square dancing. Yet, our folk dance culture is richer than that. At Cumberland Dance Week, we learn really tricky square dances, yes; but we also learn contra dances (a called dance utilizing most of the same "calls" as square dancing, only performed in two long lines), Rapper Sword dancing, Longsword dancing (the younger set loves learning dances involving "weaponry"), Appalachian clogging and "flat-footing", couple dances ranging from a waltz to a hambo, swing dancing, even dances such as the mambo, merenge, bachada.

My thoughts kept expanding what we could add to the American folk dance tradition. Since our culture is a melting pot of many other nations' cultures, what about hula dancing? belly dancing (we did have a impromptu belly dancing class a couple of years ago...very well attended too)? How about more Latin American dances? Native American dances? French Canadian dances? More Cajun?

Okay. I figure if you're reading this, you may be a little interested in my dance camp experience, but most likely you came to this page looking for something to do with spirituality. Am I right?

Well, I'm going there. As Christians in America, our churches tend to be vanilla, chocolate, strawberry...not so often fudge swirl or neopolitan even. We tend to gravitate to congregations that "look like us." Is that really the world we want to live in? God created a world rich in its complexity of races; each of these races have created incredible cultures...America has been so fortunate to have a share of almost every race and culture come to its shores. What have we done with it?

How have we shared cultural traditions across this huge rainbow of opportunity? I think the way we strive for this "swirl" depends on our perspective.

Christ called us to be uncomfortable. Have you ever noticed that? Jesus in his parables, in the Sermon on the Mount, in his challenges to the authority of the day challenged his followers to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with the status quo; uncomfortable with the way society was working at the time. Is our society any different now? There remain people at the margins of society for whom very little if any justice and mercy exist.

As to perspective...our perspective as Christians should be focused on the margins of society; on doing justice, practicing mercy, and walking humbly with God. Part of how that happens is through hospitality, a true welcoming of all comers. How many out there reading this are a part of a church who welcomes the homeless, the LGBT community, or the immigrant into worship, into their programs? Is your worship flavored such that any of these good folks would feel comfortable?

Our worship services should be planned from a perspective which could include our own discomfort in order to provide for the comfort of the marginalized.

What would that look like in your congregation?

How do you think the Spirit is moving within your membership to accomplish a ministry of justice and mercy to the marginalized?

Just posing some questions...would love to hear some answers.

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