Categories: Church News

Karen Wellman


Every year there are preachers out there who discover that circle dance is one of the metaphors for the Trinity. It makes a change from steam/water/ice or the Shamrock but most of the people who bring circle dance into their sermons have no idea what they are talking about. It isn’t that their theology is dodgy but they won’t have danced. I know this as I’m a circle dance teacher and sometime choreographer and I know how few people have actually experienced this form of dance.

Trinity Sunday is a challenge as we struggle to make sense of something about the divine nature of God as three persons – father, son and holy spirit. Not separate individuals and not three aspects of the same person.

The circle with its sense of never ending, the movement of the dance and the way that different people in the dance contribute to the whole is a tiny insight into the Trinity. Yet anyone who has danced this form of dance which comes  from the community dances of Europe will know that circle dance is a better metaphor for that central tenant of Christianity which is ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ In a week where there have been protests around the world at the treatment of humanity with darker skin than those in the ruling elite these words of Jesus need to be heard clearer than ever.

When you dance this form of dance you hold someone’s hand. You have to listen to the music and the rhythm and try to remember the steps. You also have to listen to your neighbour and adapt your dancing to them. If you neighbour is taller than you both of you will have to find a step length that works for both of you. If your neighbour has a stiff shoulder you can’t be as exuberant in your arm gestures. In the dance there are individuals but they can only dance together if they are aware of the other and make adjustments.

Who is our neighbour? If we are white what can we learn from those people of colour who are our neighbours? How and what do we need to change so that we can answer the question posed by the prophet Micah And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

So if you haven’t seen what it looks like this is circle dance danced by ordinary people getting some of the steps wrong but working together to create something beautiful. It’s a pilgrim’s dance.

May we dance for justice, may we listen to our neighbours and may we discover the divine in what we do with others.

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