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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Come Dance with Us

Imagine joining into a dance that is already in progress. I remind myself of that sentiment whenever I’m finding it difficult to focus on the Trinity as an intellectual doctrine. The invitation of joining the dance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enlivens and expands our experience of life and our relationship with God. God remains a mystery, but noting the different characteristics of God can push us beyond a concrete sense of knowing and into a more open posture so we may fully experience God’s love.


When I served at the Cathedral, there was one Christmas Eve experience that remains one of the funniest experiences of my liturgical life. It transcended the humor of that moment and became an icon to the dance I think we are invited to by God. 


Since it was Christmas, the Bishop was present and celebrating. A colleague and I were serving as deacons and responsible for setting the table and making sure everything was in order. I admit I was a bit overcome with the beauty of the service and therefore not necessarily quick to pick up the cues my colleague was desperately sending me. When I looked across the chancel as he set the table, I saw him mouth the words “no wine.” I nodded, assuming he meant that somehow one of the two very large flagons that had been brought forward was empty.  


So, I did nothing.  


Not to worry I thought, we can fill the second one later and just send the first back to the chapel. Though as I continued watching him, it became clear that there was in fact NO wine in either container, and we were confronted with the prospect of serving communion to well over a thousand people with just one chalice of wine. We needed a miracle on the order of the wedding at Cana of Galilee. 


But this is when the dance began. 

  

The Bishop censed the altar, the music played, and with as much casualness as one could muster in that situation I discreetly removed one of the empty flagons and handed it behind my back to our Chief Verger. I did not say a word. As the Bishop continued to gather us at the altar a bit into the liturgy, I simply reached my hand behind me and a fully filled flagon of wine was placed there, and I set it on the table before the Bishop needed to consecrate it.  


Most people never knew what happened. Because at that point we moved from thinking about the steps to dancing. We knew each other well enough that we could improvise in the midst of confusion and turn a funny situation into a moment of holiness and connection.


This dance is one that takes place each day in Christian community. We engaged in a similar dance in Bethlehem Chapel and Gish Hall last Sunday. And the smiles and good humor I witnessed told me we were mainly dancing despite the different circumstances. That good humor lets us know we are in the presence of God’s grace. I trust that is a dance you experience in many other places of your life as well.


Peace, Beth+

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