The letter to the Hebrews: An invitation to the dance - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

The letter to the Hebrews: An invitation to the dance

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Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 11:01 am | Updated: 4:45 pm, Mon Dec 23, 2013.

I’ve seen it frequently. You know, the little tagline quotes in our email signature lines. This one is an old Irish proverb, “Work like you don’t need money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. And dance like no one’s watching.” Dance is not just a wonderful metaphor for life, but also for God. Many have described the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as a kind of cosmic dance. God’s very nature is relationship: loving, vital, dynamic, and life-giving. You can dance on your own, but it’s so much more fun when you dance with others.

The cosmic dance is a beautiful expression of the gift of hospitality. God invites and encourages us to be in relationship with Him. God’s gracious hospitality is most evident in our Lord, Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself to become the Word made flesh, and who was willing to give Himself on the cross for the life of the world. The letter to the Hebrews teaches us about a host of witnesses who heard the divine music, and found their greatest joy and peace in responding to the rhythm of faith. These are ordinary people, just like me and you, who, with God’s help, often did extraordinary things.

The letter to the Hebrews also exhorts us to show hospitality to strangers. That includes our compassionate ministry to the walking wounded of the world. Some have become strangers to their families and friends because they’re imprisoned in addictions. Many have become strangers to God because of the prison of abuse or violence. No wonder Jesus tells us He has come to bring release to the captives (Luke 4:18). God continues to call us to show His hospitality to strangers by respecting human dignity, and seeking the face of Christ in everyone. Even in our own struggles, as children of faith, we hold fast to God’s promises and say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6).

As followers of Christ, Scripture is like music to our ears. As Christians in the dance of life, our posture is to seek out those whose lives closely mirror Christ’s, who study God’s word, who stay close to God in prayer, and who gather to worship God. The Word of God may be chronologically ancient, but it’s living and active today and every day. Each generation re-creates the stance of servant leadership, of loving God with our whole self, and of loving our neighbors as ourselves. When our ears are attuned to the Holy Spirit’s gentle song, our hearts open to God’s guidance, revealing God’s truth and beauty in each step of our spiritual journey.

Dancing in community or with a group of people means that we have to learn some avoidance techniques, or we can easily fall or hurt one another. The letter to the Hebrews teaches us about two of the biggest pitfalls to avoid. One is about sexual relationships, or loving the wrong person. The other is about money, or loving the wrong things. Throughout Scripture, unfaithfulness to God is equated with idolatry, and often described in sexual terms. To be unfaithful in human relationships is idolatrous because it puts selfish desire ahead of our love for God. An important caveat: if anyone ever told you — perhaps even misusing Scripture to prove their point — that you must stay in a violent relationship they’re dead wrong. When you’re ready, get help from a shelter.

Many of us think of money as the means of our security, which leaves us feeling hopeless and consumed with fear when the stock market crashes, house prices plummet, or when we lose our jobs. Worshipping money is like worshipping a false god. One that’s unstable and capricious, comes and goes, and ultimately cares nothing for us, because money is without heart or conscience. God is the ultimate source of all we have, and all we really need.

Finally, the letter to the Hebrews is helpful in providing us with vital steps in the dance. God’s gracious abundance. Living in accordance with God’s will. Listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Avoidance of temptations is best, but when we fall, we can make our stumbles part of the dance, by returning to God. We know God’s presence in the rhythm of every heartbeat, so let’s dance!

• The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is priest-in-charge at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe. Reach her at rector@stjamestempe.orgor or at (480) 345-2686.

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