Exploration 1: The Still Point

beltane maypole 001

Imagine something like a Maypole – a tall pole from which many ribbons flow out and imagine many different adults and children holding the ribbons. Now imagine the ‘pole’ is the still point, the centre, Jesus Christ, and everyone is attached to Christ by a ribbon. The ribbons might represent different things to different people, and if we went and observed closely, we might find words written on the ribbons like ‘faith’, ‘hope’, ‘joy’, or ‘perseverance’. But mixed in might be words like ‘doubt’, ‘loss’, and ‘fear’. Now imagine, a crowd of people, holding their ribbons, moving around the still point. Some might be going one way, some another. Others might be moving away from the still point, others moving closer. Some people might change direction, or even let go of their ribbon for a time. At the still point, the ribbons overlap and intertwine as the dance continues.

Here are some videos of maypole dances:

Royal Ballet
1929 in Ireland
Village May Day fair

Which of these videos do you prefer? Which one of the dances tells us most about community relationships?

Lord of the Dance

The theology and society thinktank Theos has produced a report on attitudes to death, dying and the afterlife. In that report they noted something interesting, – that today during funerals, people often choose to listen to a recording of someone else singing (e.g. Frank Sinatra singing My Way, always popular) as an alternative to choosing to sing together as a congregation to celebrate, lament, or mourn. Yet singing together and dancing together have always been important to creating and sustaining relationship. Our grandparents typically met at dances, whether those were formal ballroom occasions, jazz clubs or community ‘do’s’. Diverse cultures set great store by the community coming together to sing together and dance. Worship too, invites us to sing together to praise God and to be bound together in whatever music tradition and practice your church offers. There is something about the physical nature of singing and dancing which invites relationship and a sense of community.

Some things to do; ideas to ponder:

  • Draw a still point to represent Jesus and some ribbons flowing out from it. What might be written on your ribbon(s)? What connects you to Jesus?
  • Thinking about your own journey as a Christian, could you imagine or draw the path of your ‘dance’? Were there times when you felt especially near to Jesus and times when he felt further away?
  • The Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is sometimes described as a kind of dance of God as ‘persons in relationship’. How might imagining the still point and the flowing ribbons help us visualise this mystery of God?
  • Does it matter what pattern emerges from the ‘dance’?  What happens when we try to dictate what an ‘ideal’ pattern of overlapping ribbons should look like?
  • Sing a bit of your favourite hymn, then imagine it sung by hundreds or thousands of people. How might that make you feel? How might singing together be a feature of a ‘relational church’?

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