What woman having ten silver coins if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully, until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost." Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Luke 15: 8-10
There are lots of parties throughout Scripture! Lots of rejoicing and dancing and praising God. That was one of the criticisms lodged against Jesus by the Pharisees. He partied too much!
. . . the Son of Man has come eating and drinking and you say, "Look a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!
When I journeyed to Palestine and the Holy Land last January, it was truly one of my life's most inspirational and meaningful experiences. It was not because of the sites I visited but the people I encountered. They inspired me with their resilience, their hope, and their joy. They inspired me with their dancing.
We visited several schools, and at each, the children and youth performed dances from their culture. We couldn't help but smile and be joyful as we watched. After one particular dance, I leaned over to Bishop Eaton, who had joined us to participate in the ordination of Sally Azar, the first Palestinian woman to be ordained. I said, "That's what we need in the church these days. We need to dance. "
There are many challenges for the Palestinian people and the church there. There is much that could cause one to despair – no job opportunities, buildings falling apart or half-built because they don't have the money or the permits to repair or finish building them; trash everywhere because there is no place to take it; restrictions on their daily lives, some of their homes taken from them and given to Jewish settlers . . . the list goes on and on.
And yet they are not only resilient, they are hopeful and full of joy.
They throw feasts – there was so much food at every single meal. The hospitality was incredible. And they dance and laugh and celebrate together.
The ordination of Sally Azar included people from all over the world to celebrate.
The way of Jesus can indeed be challenging. It is easy to get discouraged. It is hard not to put up walls and want to pull in to protect our ways, our traditions, and our understandings. It is hard to work for justice, make waves, and challenge the status quo. But the way of Jesus brings us hope and joy that cannot be defeated. A joy that leads us to dance and celebrate our life together. And certainly, we need more joy in our lives these days.
So let's dance!