Friday, May 04, 2012

Dancing Easter joy!

Mary Magdalene recognizes Jesus.

On Easter, I proclaimed John 20:1-18 - the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb as part of Pastor Zina Jacque's sermon at the Community Church of Barrington. The sermon, titled "The Story's End: Love Wins," was at the very end of the service, which had been full of lovely singing and Easter joy. Pastor Zina pointed out that we can rejoice now because we know how the story ends, but what if we didn't? Imagine not knowing. That's the state Mary Magdalene was in that first Easter morning so long ago . . . With that introduction, I told the story: the disbelief, the grief, the revelation, the joy! Then, at the end, as I was rejoicing, exclaiming, "I have seen the Lord!," Natallia Revinskaya, the church's incredible pianist started playing, "I've Just Seen Jesus" by Sandy Patti, and I danced up and down the aisle.

Afterwards, many people thanked me. I am heartened when people tell me they cried, and some did. One woman told me that she had danced to that song in that church as a young woman and when I danced, that's when she lost it. Another woman said that she enjoyed the dance because it was how she'd like to express her response to the good news. She's not a dancer but I was moving how she would move if she could: I expressed what was in her heart. I realized on a new level that the scriptural storytelling segueing into dance can be a powerful combination. It is unusual, and it is my ministerial gift.

On Holy Saturday, I also had the honor of proclaiming the story for Felician (Franciscan) sisters in the infirmary at their Motherhouse at Peterson and Pulaski in Chicago. Special thanks to Sr. Carole Mary, my liturgical consultant, for arranging it. One of the sisters cried because she wanted everyone to experience Jesus' love as she saw me expressing it and as she felt it. I'll admit I was a bit perplexed by this. Then, when I told the story at a storytelling lab for Kellogg School of Management alumni (in my other life, I have an MBA) a couple of weeks after Easter, a Jewish man told me that my telling helped him understand the Christian religion in a way he had never understood it before: my love and enthusiasm expressing Mary Magdalene's love and enthusiasm at seeing the risen Jesus was very touching. To be honest, I hadn't consciously realized the depth of my love and conviction until he reflected it back to me. It took someone outside my faith to point out to me what was going on inside of me in my faith. Distance provides perspective!

On that note, I'll leave you with an insight from another Felician sister. She said that when Jesus told Mary not to cling to him, or as one translation poetically states, "Touch me not," he was asking her to take her love for him out into the world. It's a bit counter-intuitive: to get closer to Jesus, go away from him.