Sunday, August 10, 2014

DANCING on water...

Every time the gospel of Jesus walking on the water comes around, I'm afraid I zone out of what's happening at church and return to a favourite memory.

Some years ago, our family attended a production of The Cotton Patch Gospel -- sub-titled "The Greatest Story Ever Re-told." Basically, it's a bluegrass musical of the life of Christ set in the 1960s in Georgia. I'm not joking. It was performed at the Rosebud Theatre in Rosebud, AB, by five men with a lot of talent, each of them acting several different roles, singing close harmonies and playing different instruments.

The memory that distracts me from homilies and other goings on at mass is the scene from the production where Jesus, standing stage left, invites Peter, standing in the boat on on the stage right, to step over the side and come to him. But Jesus doesn't just invite Peter. He dances a little jig on the water, halfway across the stage to the boat and back to The Sailor's Hornpipe that he's playing on his banjo.

Of course, Peter and the disciples are astounded, mouths hanging open. So Jesus dances a little more, and a couple of the disciples get into the spirit, instruments kicking in as Jesus starts jigging and reeling to beat the band, reaching an arm out to Peter, encouraging him to join the dance. Peter's internal "Do-I-or-don't-I?" doesn't last long as Jesus, smiling broadly, steps up the pace. Cautiously, Peter climbs over the side, feels the water's solidity with one foot, then the other, straightens up, takes a tentative step away from the boat, and then a few more, as Jesus jigs a circle around him.

Before you know it, the two have joined hands and their feet are flying as they dance all over the "water" in a jubilant and rather hilarious parody of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance. The disciples are cheering and Peter is grinning wider and wider as he and Jesus sail about... and in the midst of everything, Jesus lets go to do a little dance solo to a bit of Duelling Banjos -- at the end of which he puts out his arms in an "over to you, Peter." So Peter gives 'er, clearly having the time of his life... until he realizes, like a cartoon character hanging in mid-air before falling down the Grand Canyon, that something isn't right. You can see him thinking, "Jesus is... way over there?? I'm dancing on water?? Isn't this impossible?? I don't know how to swim!!" And Peter sinks (plunges off the edge of the stage) and flounders until Jesus dances over, pulls him up, and walks his spluttering friend back to the boat.

No wonder I can't help but smile when I hear the reading... and think about how Jesus invites us all to trust, we of little faith. Only now I can't think so much about walking on water... If Jesus, the one who invites us to live life to the fullest, could walk on water, why wouldn't he dance? All I know is I wanna dance with Jesus, too!

It's been a while since I've had a jigging and reeling fix, so here's little one I just remembered -- Canada's own Natalie McMaster... and some very special guests. So cute!!! Happy Walking/Dancing on Water Sunday!

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