The upcoming Canadian National Gathering focuses on reconciliation. The theme of reconciliation can help us to understand many other facets of our Christian walk. Enjoy this reflection from Senior Leader for Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation Adrian Jacobs on how reconciliation will further the CRCNA’s goal of “cultivating practices of prayer and spiritual discipline, transforming our lives and communities by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus was jumping for joy when he heard back from the 70 he sent out to preach and heal in his name. This is what Pastor Everett Vander Horst at Meadowlands Fellowship CRC preached on Sunday, February 26, 2023, in his series on Luke’s Gospel. The joy that Jesus had came from the Holy Spirit. This ecstatic joy moved his feet! We anticipate that the Canadian National Gathering in Ottawa on May 25 to 28, 2023, will also be an occasion of joy that will encourage participants to move their feet!
One of our worship leaders, who will also offer a concert of his music, is Jonathan Maracle. Jonathan is Mohawk (one of six Haudenosaunee nations) from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, ON. Jonathan utilizes contemporary Christian and traditional Haudenosaunee music stylings in his art. It is more likely than not that you will be invited to dance with joy as Jesus did.
As the Senior Leader for Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation I grew up in the Haudenosaunee longhouse tradition where dancing was not so much a display of your fancy footwork but an opportunity for you to be part of community celebration. Christians have so much to celebrate and so joining a community celebration like dancing is so appropriate. You may awkwardly step out to start but it will become easier as you get caught up in simple joy and a big smile will find your face!
When participants from your region return from the gathering ask them if they noticed dancing as part of prayer and spiritual discipline. While the Christian Reformed Church has been talking about the appropriateness of dancing for many decades and even published a study of liturgical dance in worship in 1985, dance hasn’t been a big part of CRC worship tradition.
Perhaps this is something we can learn about from our Indigenous brothers and sisters. My late friend Richard Twiss, cofounder of the North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies, said many times, “Our dance is our prayer.” If you have never danced your prayer, then the Canadian National Gathering may be your chance to start. If you aren’t able to attend the gathering and are a closet dancer, join the community celebration wherever you are. If you are already one to dance your prayers, encourage others to join you!