Scott M sent me this great post rom Father Stephen about the role of the [Orthodox] church to American culture. Along the lines of Staub’s Culturally Savvy Christian, Father Stephen has some great wisdom to share about the history of Christianity’s setting itself up as the enemy of culture instead of being a producer of culture.
Early on, he says:
"The Orthodox Church exists within an American culture that is indeed a mixture of many things.
There are inherited elements of Puritanism in America that can trace their roots back to Oliver Cromwell and his religious cousins and forebears.
These elements will not yield a Christian culture but a culture that diminishes our humanity and is, at best, a heretical Christian culture."
But what really caught my attention (and evidently, Scott’s as well…) was this:
"There’s something wrong with a nation where people don’t sing and dance."
OK..so here’s my possibly heretical and tangentially related question: Given that it’s Christmas season, shouldn’t we be dancing? Isn’t there something wrong with a Kingdom such as ours that doesn’t dance? Instead of bemoaning the fact that our consumer-based spirituality is upset about the ‘Happy Holiday’ banners all over the television airwaves, how about being a holy nation (in the ‘royal priesthood’ sense…) which dances at the birth of our Hope? Instead of being cynical about equal time for Chanakuh and Kwanzaa, how about singing and rejoicing over the miraculous birth of the King and a new way of Kingdom rule? Granted, I know the Wal-Mart machine doesn’t want to offend the handful of athiests or agnostics or hindus in my community, so it’s much better for the bottom line if we have a generic ‘Holiday Tree’, but what about the incredible opportunity for conversations? "Hey, Mr. Hindu..what holiday is it exactly that decorates evergreen trees with lights? …oh, yeah..the one about the birthday and the King and…and…and…" Or for the agnostic (or anyone for that matter), the natural opportunities to talk about a season of Hope and the Bringer of Hope. A season of Peace…and it’s Prince. The appropriateness of the gifts we offer families and loved ones…and the significance of the gifts of the Magi.
Of course, it shouldn’t be limited to any particular time of year, but this month should be a no-brainer. Shouldn’t missional living foremost include dancing? To paraphrase Martin Smith, should not our lives consist of opening up the doors, letting the music play, and letting the dance spill into the streets?
At its core, isn’t ours a Kingdom of Dancing? The blind receiving sight. The poor receiving abundance. The crippled walking. The dead living. The lonely comforted. The sick healed. The oppressed rescued. The captives set free. The hopeless filled with hope. The good news has come. The messenger brought ‘good tiding of great joy’ because a Son is born, of Man and Spirit, that has come to heal the nations. And He will be our King and we will be His people. Even Ricky Bobby should dance over his bounty of Taco Bell, now that 8 lb. 6 oz. baby Jesus has come.
Am I a little cynical about advertisementsof consumer-driven ‘Happy Holiday’ commercials on the tube? Yeah. Definitely. But I can just get over it. My responsibility to share my faith doesn’t trump my responsibility to dance. The kingship of Jesus isn’t threatened by Holiday Trees or political correctness any more than by my personal indignation. I can embrace my community and serve it. I can love my neighbor without an agenda. I can give my time and energy to my wife and kids and friends. And I can dance in the truth of the Season. As Father Stephen says, "May God teach my feet!"