There’s a season for everything,” goes the book of Ecclesiastes, “a time for mourning and a time for dancing.” It seems like the two are back-to-back in the calendar this year, with dancing, then mourning.
First comes Valentine’s Day, February 14, followed by Shrove Tuesday, February 17, and then as always, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent.
Let’s go to the dancing first. I’ll save Ash Wednesday for next week.
I love to dance. As a kid I wanted to be Fred Astaire. I’d seen his old movies on TV and I wished I could glide on air like he could. My friends all knew I loved Fred Astaire and they decided to invite him to my 16th birthday party.
I’m not kidding. They wrote up a note addressed to Mr. Astaire, telling him how much I loved to dance and wished I could dance, and how honored they’d be if he attended my birthday party.
Fred Astaire had pretty much hung up his tap shoes by then, but my friends knew he worshipped at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, the same church one of their grandmothers attended, and they decided to hand-deliver this invitation.
They got to the church bright and early–he went to the early communion service–and when he darted out, they darted out with him. “Mr. Astaire,” they said, “we have an invitation for you.”
He was perfectly polite–of course he was–and sent them a note with his regrets. He would be out of town on the date of the party but he wished the birthday boy the very best.
You would think with a blessing like that I would have launched a brilliant dance career. Alas, I was never meant to do solo dances on stage or screen. No matter. I married a woman who likes to dance and the two of us can cut up a rug at any party.
The Bible is full of dancing. Miriam danced, David danced and it seems that the father of the prodigal son danced at the return of his son because “music and dancing” were heard (Luke 15:25).
At our church on Shrove Tuesday, we’ll eat pancakes and dance to a jazz combo–well, some of us will.
“Let them praise God’s name with dance,” says the Psalmist (149:3). Just wiggle your toes a little and praise God. That should do it. Fred Astaire would understand.