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An elaborate dance

An elaborate dance

An elaborate dance

13 August 2019

Photo: Kris Atomic

By Danielle Strickland

I’ve got a little beef with a beautiful song. It’s an old favourite about love. The refrain is amazing: “Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me”.

I’ve sung it loud and proud and, even better than that, found the words to be true in my everyday life. Love never fails.

My problem with the song emerges at the end of the verse with this line: “One thing remains”. I like those words but they just aren’t true. One thing does not remain. Three things do.

At least according to the Good Book (1 Corinthians 13:13 if you want to look it up). Now, it may seem I’m just being picky and getting lost in the details (and I should point out that Jeremy Riddle is an incredibly gifted songwriter and I’m grateful for him).

But here’s why it matters. The other two things that remain are faith and hope. I believe that faith, hope and love are inseparable from each other. To separate them is to lose the essence of them. The power of them all is unlocked as they work together.

Faith, hope and love are an eternal currency of change. I think they work much like the mysterious nature of the Trinity. The Eastern Orthodox Church has an image of the Trinity that may be helpful.

Theologians, beginning with John of Damascus, have depicted the Trinity as three persons engaged in a circle dance. If the very nature of God, the Trinity, is relationship, this image shows it to be an utterly joyous and interdependent relationship.

As one theologian has written, “Father, Son and Spirit join hands and spin and spin and spin, all equal partners in the dance. Some have spoken of the very act of creation as the result of the love of this dance spilling over to make a world, or of the dancers spreading out to make room in their circle for more.”

Isn’t this evidenced by the way faith gives us hope, and hope helps us love and love moves us to believe again? An elaborate dance of the eternal God at work in and through our lives.

I recently sat around a table with some friends in South Africa. All of them are working hard towards trying to realise the future they had envisioned 25 years ago.

Nelson Mandela’s South Africa was an invitation to transform the future for everyone. It was glorious to behold and called the entire world to dream of the possibilities. But it’s hard work to make a dream real.

The existing economic apartheid has hardly budged and land reparations have not come to the people who have suffered the most. Is reconciliation just a distant idea? Is it even possible to truly experience some justice and peace?

I could feel the weariness of the journey in every person gathered. Then we were given an exercise. Everyone would share one hope they had. Just one hope. And everyone did. One hope they were working towards, one hope they believed, one hope they were living, one hope they had etched on the inside of their hearts to direct their efforts. One hope.

And as everyone shared, something began to happen. Hope expanded. Hope filled. Hope lifted.

And the only way I can describe what hope did as it broke open that night was that it filled my heart with faith. I started to believe it was possible again.

Right in the midst of the weariness of the struggle, faith lifted me. And then it struck me that the only reason we were all gathered around that table, from all different backgrounds and histories and stories, was because of love. Relationship. Connection. Love united us. Hope compelled us. And faith lifted us.

It was like an infusion of eternal possibilities as hope, faith and love worked in and through us.

So what does this mean? It means I’m going to nurture faith, hope and love in real time. I’m not even sure exactly how.

But I’m taking a hint from God as Trinity and an amazing dinner with friends on the other side of the world.

I’m going to start sharing my hope more. Connecting with people I love. And let faith lift me. In other words, I’m going to learn to dance.

Danielle Strickland is a Salvationist who blogs at www.daniellestrickland.com

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