My wife is quite accomplished at discovering and sharing a wide variety of meaningful and sometimes surprising YouTube videos. For example, over the past week she has posted “How to bake a delicious pink zebra cake,” John Wayne speaking on family values, and Texas A&M students surprising President George and former First Lady Barbara Bush with a customized rendition of Cotton Eyed Joe. But my favorite is today’s: “A must see tap dance duel by US seminarians.” The video portrays Roman Catholic seminary students David Rider and John Gibson tap dancing at the Rector’s Dinner at North American College in Rome back in April of this year. Their duel was part of a larger presentation of “Old Broadway” by fellow seminary students, and the two dancers are amazing. One would have expected a Gregorian chant or a stirring rendition of “Ave Maria,” anything but a toe tapping (pun intended) display that rivals any I’ve seen before (http://youtu.be/UdYDKmpzt5U).
To state the obvious, spiritual leaders are normally expected to be, well, “spiritual,” and tap dancing isn’t high on most lists of requirements for clergy. We prefer people of the cloth to toe a grim line, to be godly leaders acquainted with grief who prove it consistently by what they wear and how they carry themselves. Not long ago I was paying for coffee and digestive biscuits at our local grocer when the cashier said to me, “You’re a preacher aren’t you?” I replied without thinking, “Do I look that bad?” Don’t get me wrong, dealing with eternity is serious business, but I must ask myself, when, in the name of all that’s holy, did joy become incompatible with holiness?
Jesus quite literally carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, yet he seldom missed a party and found himself the featured attraction at most celebrations. People of questionable character attached themselves to him, and it appears that he went out of his way to find and include them in his flock, extending grace and expressing contagious compassion. Our Savior makes room for somber reflection and confession of sin, but equally encourages exhilaration and rejoicing over forgiveness. A large part of discovering that grace is always present tense is allowing ourselves to kick up our heels once in awhile and demonstrate that knowing Christ is a really good thing.
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. (Luke 10:21, NIV)