Omega Dance Company "When Love and Sorrow Meet"
Choreographer: Martha Chapman
Dancers: Martha Chapman, Daniel Flores, Kaoru Ikeda
Photographer: Allison Armfield

Adventures with God:
The Divine Dance

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost • July 28, 2019
Scripture Lessons: John 1:1-5 - from
The Inclusive New Testament translation
(with “Logos” substituted for “Word”)

Martha Chapman, guest preacher

Holy holy holy One -
listen to the flow of my heart - 
to the words of my mouth -
to the thoughts of my mind -  
Take away my limitations and
let YOU be heard and felt 
and experienced by all here today. 

Hi Church.  

If you don’t know me already, I am a member of the Church of the Village since its inception in 2005 and member of a predecessor church for 10 years before that

I was a dancer with a “minor-league” career in ballet companies, and now teach at several studios in NYC for adults and children. I am a current Co-director of Omega Dance Company, a sacred dance company in residence here at The Church of the Village and direct most of dance ministry work here at Church of the Village, including our famous annual Christmas Pageant complete with tap-dancing sheep! The 14th one is coming this December (see me after service to get a part!). 

So - for me… as a dancer - I am very tuned-in to my body.  And through this… I feel -- or have learned to feel -- God in me… God in my body.  As Maurice says all the time: “Namaste!” I greet the Divine in you (and in me!) So I ask you to feel YOUR body with me for a moment.  

Breathe.   Feel the weight of your body in the chair.  
Breathe.   Feel the flow of air into and out of your body. 
Breath flows into you… and out of you.  
Breathe.  Feel how your lungs expand and contract!  
Listen to that.  

Now - let’s try breathing all together.  Ready?
Breathe in - 2 - 3 - 4…   Breathe out through your mouth - AHHHHHHHH.
Breathe in through your nose - 2 - 3 - 4…   Breathe out through your mouth - AHHHHHHHH.
Once more - Breathe in - 2 - 3 - 4….   Breathe out through your mouth - AHHHHHHHH!  

Feels nice, right?  That flow of breath, into and out of your body?  And the people sitting near you, breathing too. Look around!  See. Breathe. That connection… that awareness… that flow of life in your body… I like to think of that as Divinity - or Sacredness, flowing through me.  Through you. Through us. I like to think of that God-flow as... a river… a wind… a breath that we are swimming in - all the time.   

We are now about halfway into our current worship series Adventures with God and we have been hearing a lot about being connected and being in relationship, and about how this not only is how we EXPERIENCE God, but that this, maybe, IS God. 

At the start of our series, Sam Swartz, a yogi from Integral Yoga just down 13th St., talked about thinking of Evil as “that which separates us.”  

Evil IS that which separates us.  And if Evil separates us - maybe Good or the Sacred or the Divine is which connects us - intertwines us - weaves us together.  

Pastor Jeff preached next on finding The Divine in relationships... that when you and I are together… maybe God is the 3rd energy in that Trinity circle! You. Me. God!  You Me. God. 

Last Sunday, Angela Morris sang with us, and asked us all to see “Christ as a Mirror…to open our eyes and gaze…” And we sang in a circle and gazed at The Christ one another.  

Today, I propose that connections and relationships are not metaphors for God… but that The Divine… God IS relationships and connections… the Divine IS the FLOW of energy that courses between us all! And that part of how we can feel and increase and join the Flow is y honing our awareness of feeling it in our bodies.  

A few weeks ago on Pride Sunday, Suzie Wilder sang “This is Me” - a song from a movie… raise your hand if you were here in worship that day.  The Divine FLOW BROKE OUT during that song! Do you remember?  Do you remember how that moment felt? We started dancing!  And more and more people got up and joined the dance. And people came in from the street and joined the dance.  And for a moment - a brief but important and transcendent moment - we were in God’s Kin-dom. 

To me - at least sometimes - things like that feel like a FLOW.  An energy or a vibration flowing through my body. Sometimes I have moments where the Flow seems SO clear and present…God is in me and around me and with us and between us…have you felt that?  Once? A few times? Many times maybe??  

But - sometimes - much of the time, if we’re honest about it -  we can’t feel that Flow. We turn away. Or we turn ourselves off to it.  Because it’s too much -- that level of Love can be terrifying! Or we’re hurting.  Sometimes we feel blocked - alone. Sometimes that energy - that feeling - that flow - just doesn’t seem to be there.  It feels... gone.  

I ask myself - why can I sometimes find or feel this “FLOW” and it feels so strong and clear and THERE… and other times I can’t feel it at all?  Especially I can’t feel it when I WANT to feel it.  

Richard Rohr is a priest and scholar who is a favorite of Anne Hughes-Hinnen, our member who organizes the Friday morning Prayer Call here at The Church of the Village (little plug - this is a special time of connection - look in your bulletin for more information if you’d like to join in).  One of today’s readings is from Richard’s book “The Universal Christ,” which some of us are now reading together via an email “book club” (another plug: ask Jorge or Pastor Jeff about the next book!)  Here’s part of what we heard earlier:

The Christ Mystery anoints all physical matter with eternal purpose from the very beginning...
We are still in the Flow.  

We are still in the Flow.  

Here’s another thought from the same book: 
Grace is just the natural loving flow of things when we allow it, instead of resisting it. Sin is any cutting or limiting of that circuit. 

So...Maybe what God is - maybe what the Trinity really is… what GOD is really all about - IS the CONNECTION between… the circle… the movement… the dance… the FLOW between and in everything.   

Rohr has also written a book called “The Divine Dance” in which he talks about Perechoresis, or the Trinity not as three God entities of Creator, Child and Holy Spirit… but as “the flow” or dance BETWEEN them.  2 quotes from this book:

From Brother Elias Marechal:
“The ancient Greek Fathers depict the Trinity as a Round Dance: an event that has continued for six thousand years, and six times six thousand, and beyond the time when humans first knew time...This circular current of trinitarian love continues night and day… 

From Cappadocian Fathers of 4th century Turkey, who apparently reflected on the Gospels for 3 centuries in order to say this:
“Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three - a circle dance of love.  And God is not just a dancer.  God is the dance itself.”

I want to say that part again:
God is not just a dancer.  God is the dance itself.
God      is the    DANCE. 

SO many cultures include dance as a sacred thing:  

Think of Native-American Pow-Wows… powerful offerings of dance from many tribes that honor The Great Spirit.  So many cultures from Africa - communal dance as worship - bringing the heartbeats and breathing of many people into one energy flowing.  Orthodox Jews have movements for certain words in prayer. Labyrinth walks are moving meditation… Yogic practice which are spiritual practices…Greek weddings, Jewish weddings… why do you think we dance at weddings? Aboriginal and Indigenous cultures in Australia, Central and South America, Egypt… dance is central and vital everywhere.  Known human culture extends back tens of thousands of years… and to worship together we’ve not needed more than maybe some fire and water… and our bodies moving together.  

There was NO dance at church services as I grew up.  It was the “747 model” of worship, were we all faced the “pilot” pastor at the front - no moving around.  Here at Church of the Village we are intentionally moving into flexible worship space as you can see today - but that was not part of how my home church thought when I was young.  

I was one of those kids who danced around the house and made everyone nuts - so to save the family sanity was eventually sent to dance classes by my parents, probably at some hardship. 

But dance and church were not really connected for me.. my journey to the Sacred in movement was circuitous, almost accidental. As a kid I was part of regional ballet organizations where once in awhile one of the pieces performed would have a sacred theme about which I remember feeling vaguely embarrassed - and probably those dances weren’t very good. 

Yet dance or movement is now one of the most powerful ways that I experience God. I don’t think I felt this in any conscious way as a child… but something called to me, and the “SPIRIT” of dance continued to twine its sly way into me as the years passed - underneath the training and technique.  Every once in awhile, I’d experience what I now think of as ‘Sacred Moments.’ Moments when movement and music fill my heart to bursting…moments that come unbidden and unsought - a shaft of connection with Beauty, with the Universe…with The Divine. Moments like when Suzie was singing on Pride Sunday.  

Do you ever have  moments like that?  When somehow the world stands still - everything feels right - like the air is shining?  There’s energy or a vibration or LIGHT shimmering around??  

Through the years, amidst plenty of non-sacred dancing hours that ranged from the mundane to the REALLY awful, ‘Sacred Moments’ came - brief and seldom… tiny, tiny fragments of God’s Kin-dom, oh-so-brief sparks that seem somehow eternal, somehow channeling God’s all-encompassing Love and Light.  

In some un-knowing way, I sought and continue to seek this transcendence.  And I find it, fleetingly, in dance and other places. In family dinners, talking with friends, hearing music, reading, seeing a tree, walking outdoors… these moments add up to such a small amount of my chronological life, yet they are the most important part of it.  

And… and I find and lose… and find and lose The Flow… all the time.  

Hear once again from Richard Rohr:
Grace is just the natural loving flow of things when we allow it, instead of resisting it. Sin is any cutting or limiting of that circuit. 

When we cut or limit the Flow, we harm ourselves and others.  So. What stops the Flow? 

Shaming others stops the flow in them.  

Guilt stops the flow.
You didn’t call for my birthday, after all I’ve done for you!  
You don’t care about me… 

Exclusion stops the Flow.  
YOU can’t get married here!
YOUR family can’t get a home in THIS neighborhood
YOU!  You have to show proof that you belong.  

Everytime we catch ourselves limiting the Flow, and -- instead -- open ourselves to being connected to something bigger than just ourselves - we get more aware of The Flow, and better at finding it.  

Everytime we catch ourselves thinking “other” or “less-than” towards another person… and can instead - as we practiced with Angela Morris last week - look at another person and think: “Child of God.” People we like, people we don’t like, people who don’t like us, angry people, difficult people… Children of God.  

Each time we do this - we get better at finding The God-Flow in ourselves and others.  

But it’s is not easy - because “THAT WHICH SEPARATES US” is always waiting with a good excuse to ‘cut or limit the circuit’ - to BLOCK and STOP the Flow… 

But the Flow is still there - and we are still in the Flow.

So… what OPENS the flow?  

Hospitality - hospitality and welcome OPEN the flow!
I am so glad to see you! Mi casa e su casa!
Buon appetito… mangia, mangia!  
Welcome home!

Forgiveness. That’s a big one. 
Forgiveness OPENS the flow.  And I am NOT talking about being a ‘doormat’ or allowing others to use or abuse you - but about refusing to spread Shame and Guilt from hurts that come to you. 

You hurt me, but I understand.  
Or at least - I’m doing my best to understand.
I’m sorry you were wounded enough that you struck out at me. 

Love.  That’s the biggest one.  
Love is the Flow. 
Love IS the flow.  

And our job 

- as Beloved Community to ourselves and to one another;
- as members of The Church of the Village as we seek The Flow towards our collective future as a congregation;
- as Methodists in the struggle of our age for INclusion and connection;
- as citizens of the world and custodians of this beautiful blue planet miraculously spinning and dancing amidst the singing stars…

Our JOB… is ...

To be in relationship with EVERY creature and rock and tree;
To be conscious of the Flow;
To intentionally join the Dance


When we are in the FLOW
we KNOW that when we hurt or exclude another, 
we injure ourselves.

When we are IN THE FLOW
we EXPERIENCE that we are not alone. 

When we are in touching in the dance
We can feel when we pull out of step… or when others get off rhythm - and sometimes the one off rhythm is us.  

Dance is a really good metaphor for this flow of God but there are SO MANY others!  You can find the Flow everywhere. 

Because… The Flow is…. EVERYTHING.  

So -- What opens the Flow for you? And what stops the flow for you?  We are all IN THE FLOW - whether we choose to seek it or to shun it. Whether we choose to open to it or to block it out. 

I ask you, today and tomorrow and the day after - to seek, not shun the Flow.  I ask you to choose - every day, every hour if need be - to be open, not closed to the Flow. 

I ask you to hear God -- the Divine -- the Sacred -- asking you to Dance… asking you to BE part of the Dance

I ask you to welcome the Flow. 

And to close today, I invite you to dance in the Flow, remembering that God is the dance. 

Stay in your seat if your body does not feel safe… or just feels tired…

To dance sitting down is just fine!  Even if you just are here, breathing -  you are linking with others here - you are IN the flow, you ARE the flow!  The Flow is God, and God is the dance. 

Don’t worry if you feel a little silly!  Just - as much as you can - DON’T WORRY. Don’t push… just breathe.  

If you are willing and able in body, mind and spirit - I ask you to stand up - and let’s just start FEELING THE FLOW together.

Meghan - can we get a little rhythm.  
Jorge - can we get a little groove with Meghan?
Dancers - can you come to the center of the circle, and help me?  

Everyone - let’s just start feeling the flow… with… your fingers.  
(continue - add body parts - encourage movement - awareness of others around - interaction
between people…) 

Megan starts with a rhythm
Bring the moment to a slow-down - and to a gentle stop

We are still in the Flow. 
We are still in the Flow
We are still in the Flow

May it ever and always be so. 


Copyright © 2019 by Martha Chapman
All rights reserved.