Grace and Peace to you.
In this Sunday’s Old Testament reading David dances before the ark “with all his might,” apparently pretty scantily clad. He’s “girded by a linen ephod.” Whatever an ephod is, it isn’t up to dress code. Michal, the former king’s daughter, reams him out for it.
Meanwhile in the Gospel lesson, Herod’s daughter dances at his birthday party. She is applauded, and rewarded with anything she asks—and agrees to ask for the murder of John the Baptist.
Two dances: one soaked in depravity yet praised; the other an honest act of prayer, yet scorned. One is entangled in secret desires and schemes, in bitterness and revenge; the other is free and simple. One dancer reveals too much joy, too much of himself; the other reveals too much fear, too much of the palace’s corruption. One dance is caught up in calculations for getting what one wants; the other is a pure gift. One is designed to please others; the other is offered without regard to what others think. One is a coin passed through many hands; the other a a song sung once.
And here’s the rub: the one that becomes murderous is the one that fits in, that follows the rules, that functions as an acceptable tool of those in power. It’s the dance of the system. The one that is pure worship, the dance of the heart, becomes a scandal.
Pure love never fits in. It exposes us, makes us look foolish. It comes from a place where who we are, our naked self, is lovely, and offered without reservation. It breaks rules, and it often evokes resistance. Fitting in to get what we want is usually rewarded, often by something no less awful than exactly what we wanted. And then by being used by someone else for what they want.
You’re going to dance. The question is not whether, or even how. It’s why.
May God give you both good reason and courage to dance.