I feel a shift in the church, friends. In the wider Christian community. Not surprising, we are, despite distance and creed, One. This shift, its stronger than I’d wanted to believe; because change is scary, and I’m so rarely brave. This shift is not limited to specific denominations or favoured generations, it’s simply a call to dance; to waltz, clumsily to the beat of the Father’s heart. It’s nothing new; in fact it’s ancient. But this shift is a beckoning back to the basics; to the awkward simplicity of breathtaking love. And it’s stirred a vibrant vision in me:
I see a bride dancing barefoot with her groom. She’s ditched the bouquet; her mantle and passed it along. She’s discarded her veil, her shoes, and the air of elegance she felt she ought carry up to this point… and she’s gliding across a room, in the least pretentious of ways, as the dirt floor muddies her feet. She’s dancing with her beloved, and her eyes are fixated on His. For the longest time she sees only His eyes, as she’s caught up in the ecstasy of His embrace. After a time her groom casts His eyes sideways. She follows his gaze as it lands upon a small child standing tentatively at the edge of the crowd who has gathered to watch this fumbling, clumsy, ecstatic bride. The child, a girl, stands in rags, dirty and unkempt. The bride looks back to her groom, a wordless exchange occurs between them as she gently removes herself from His embrace. She takes the small child’s hand and cups it in her own. The bride kneels down and scoops the child up, her wedding gown becoming soiled in the process, she doesn’t notice, and if she did, I get the sense she wouldn’t care. She brings the child to her groom with pride, delighting in the child’s transformation of countenance when in the groom’s immediate presence. The groom begins to dance with the small child, twirling her as she squeals with delight.
The bride is elated, the crowd too. They nod in unified agreement that the child’s selection was noble, deserved. But now the brides eyes are feverishly scanning the faces of the crowd, few are familiar to her, but one by one she takes their hands and draws them into her grooms presence. She takes the hand of the ones they call Old, then Young & Foolish, Weak next, then Rich. Then she invites onto the floor the one they call Whore. Beggar she summons next, then The Gay One, followed by the Extortionist. Has she no regard for her reputation? Rapist is next, Murderer follows. This dreamy love-soaked scene has become outrageous- it is nothing less than scandalous! Yet the bride hears not their gasps, nor their whispers of shock. She is joyfully busied; encouraging each individual to find their unique internal rhythm as they dance to the beat of His heart, basking in the glow of his loving gaze.
A banquet follows. There is no lack to be found here. No expense is spared, no belly remains empty, no soul left untouched, no individual lonely and un-embraced. As soon as one banquet course is finished, a new one arrives, and the bride continues to fervently introduce people to the love of her life.
By the end of the night this bride’s visage is nothing akin the ones who grace the glossy covers of modern magazines. This bride glows unselfconsciously with sweat. Her gown is dirty, her manicure chipped, her jewels gifted to newly acquainted guests. Her only aesthetic beauty is the joy behind her smile and the way she is regularly, momentarily lost in the gaze of her groom every time their eyes meet, and He looks upon her with pride.
Their love is generous, infectious. Everyone in the room now craves the love that these two share.
And while this flowery girly imagery can be cast aside as romanticised idealism, I think it would be folly to ignore the poignant message that lies beneath its fairytale facade.
There is a shift friends, I feel it in my spirit. I hear the call in my heart, and it is daily confirmed by the unprompted conversations I’m having with people who are hearing this same call. Jesus is beckoning His bride, his church, and inviting her to dance with Him in ‘new’ ways, the old ways; unscripted and unrehearsed. “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the labourers are few” (Matt 9:37).
The banquet is set, the dirt dance floor readied… the guests aren’t yet aware of their invite. How will they receive it? When they arrive, what vision will welcome them? A bride preoccupied with her appearance, the ‘running of the show’, ensuring she is photo ready? Or will they encounter a bride so lost in the love of her groom, desperate for others to experience the intoxication of His presence, that she can’t help but drag them toward him for introduction?
Do you hear the music playing, will you cast aside your insecurities, your preconceptions, and will you dance?