Parish Memories I “Dancing in Church”*

Early on in my ministry, I was attending choir practice. It was a blustery evening and at some point during rehearsal, the front door of the church blew open while we were working on a song with good rhythm. The alto sitting on the end, got up to go close the door while we all kept practicing. And as she made her way up the aisle toward the door, the alto swayed her hips a bit, and moved to the beat. Someone else in the choir called out, “Careful there! You’re getting close to dancing and you can’t do that in church!”

Ever one to seize a teachable moment, I responded, “It is OK to dance in church. In fact there are Biblical references of folks dancing before God. Miriam was Moses’ sister and when the Hebrew people made it safely through the Red Sea into the wilderness, Miriam danced in thanksgiving.”

Quick as anything, the tenor sitting behind me snapped, “Miriam wasn’t a Methodist.”

That abruptly ended my teaching moment.

I later learned that this particular church had years and years earlier kicked a woman out of the congregation for dancing on Friday and Saturday nights and coming to church on Sunday. Kyrie Eleison!

Beloved Church, God understands and appreciates our desire to move and groove when we hear music that prompts us to dance.

*“Parish Memories” is a new, occasional series, I am beginning to share some memories from my 30+ years (so far) in full time parish ministry.

Leave a Reply