Have you ever watched children dance at a wedding? It is no coincidence, I believe, that Jesus’ ministry began and ends with a wedding feast. I think it is the closest picture we can get to what heaven will be like while we still wear the “mortal coil”.
I swear four year olds are innately drunken revelers. They start in the place that it takes me about a bottle of wine to get to. They dance without care to what anyone thinks, sometimes to the rhythm of a song no one can hear, and man, they got the moves!
They aren’t officious. They don’t care who sees their underwear. They’ll dance with anybody. They’ll dance simply for the joy of dancing, not to prove anything, but simply moved by the music. Where adults require Bacchian hedonism, children take innocent delight.
And this thought brings me back to C.S. Lewis’ Need-Loves, Gift-Loves, and Adoration. The Pharisee in me makes my religion all about my sacrifice, “Look at poor me, weighed down by joyless duty, look at what I put up with, see my great love for God in all that I do.”
But the music of heaven is another air altogether. The lay begins with a mighty “It is finished”. The work, the work which I was ever powerless to do, was done, even before stars sang at the dawn of creation. All that is left to do is to respond to the music, to dance.
There is still duty in this life, but it is done in the knowledge that all is vanity, that we will soon die, and that at our best we should “eat our bread with joy and drink our wine with a merry heart, for God has already accepted our works”. It is duty of a lily of the valley, trusting that the next morning dew will come, and bedecked by God. I doubt lilies take themselves very seriously. The know how quickly they will fade.
No, the duties of this life are to be done in the merry heart of one preparing for a wedding. There is a certain solemnity is getting children to the feast without soiling their clothes, but it is a joyful solemnity. So we, though sometimes weary Pilgrims in the sloughs, must come to the One who sends dew to the flowers. He will give us white garments, if we will simply come.
But, he is even more merciful than that! Though He seats us with Him on His throne in heavenly realms, He also formed our blood and guts and neurological pathways. He knows us innately. We are His workmanship, created in Love to show forth His glory. Though we are vain little creatures, He gives us tasks, tasks that He has specifically empowered us to do, not that it all relies on us, but as a Father allowing a child to have a turn with the screwdriver.
And how awe inspiring is this: That Christ would limit Himself to a body, His Church. That He would allow us to be His hands and feet and voice to the world. If that doesn’t make us feel our childish inadequacy, I don’t know what will.
And so, like children, we come. We come to the wedding feast and we dance, because our only power is in the song and it moves us. Because we know we have no great thing to give, but our bodies as a living sacrifice to the song.