From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

February 2024: Dance Then Wherever You May Be

Over the past few days I have had the privilege and pleasure of being ministered to by colleagues at a 25+ years in ministry course provided by the Methodist church. It was noted that within the room there was over 1,400 years of experience, but also 1,400 years of hurt and joy. My thoughts prior to arriving was a hope for reflection and a reboot for the next phase of ministry, and it has most definitely been that. In addition my fear that it would be nothing more than a moaning shop hasn't come to fruition. Yes people have been bruised from the experience, but despite that there was a deep sense of a collective calling to be disciples of Jesus Christ and minister to communities through word and sacrament.

The leaders facilitated an environment that was supportive and allowed the gathered ministers an opportunity for honest reflection and prayer. The resident theologian, Raj, grew up in India and has brought a wisdom to the church from the Dahlit community influenced by liberation theology. One topic that he explored during the last session before we parted was seeing the church as a ministry of dance. He wasn’t proposing clearing the pews from each church and making a dance floor in the middle, but instead offering it as a metaphor for creativity in ministry and the church. Now whilst nearly 10 million people tuned in to watch the final of Strictly Come Dancing our culture generally isn’t a dance culture. Even though we may hear the beat and internally dance along it is rare for that to engage most of our bodies. Indeed the dance format that perhaps we most resonate with within our culture is a Barn Dance, in which we are instructed what to do, therefore reducing the creativity.

There is a well known song by Sydney Carter entitled “Lord of the Dance” that depicts Jesus as the dancer throughout his ministry. An epitaph for Sydney Carter reads, “Coming and going by the dance, I see that what I am not is a part of me. Dancing is all that I can ever trust, the dance is all I am, the rest is dust. I will believe my bones and live by what will go on dancing when my bones are not.” The movement of the Spirit of God can be found in the creativity of dance, or any art form for that matter. When we are freed from that which is familiar and thrust into the vulnerable uncertain, then there is an opportunity for a marriage between oneself and the Spirit of God. What Raj was gently encouraging us with was the need for the church to continue dancing on, offering the freedom to create and recreate.

There is no way you will see the minister dancing in the aisles too often, but it has given me fresh impetus to encourage this church to be creative. Creativity isn’t always safe because sometimes, through experimenting, we can get it wrong. When failure happens that should never be limiting other explorations in ministry. A toddler falling is part of the learning of how to walk. As we, together, embark on new adventures, we have to learn not to chastise the failures as we learn to find new ways of being the children of God. So the glitter ball will have to wait but I invite you to “Dance then, wherever you may!”

From the Pen of Rev Steve
Creativity isn’t always safe!