Lord of the Dance: Dancing When People Oppose Your Groove

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 2:23-3:6.

One of the lesser known animated Disney films – a true travesty because it is fantastic! – is The Emperor’s New Groove. Andrew and I spent many high school date nights watching this movie, committing it to our memories, and laughing as we attempted to impersonate the movie’s characters.

The Emperor’s New Groove is a coming-of-age story. The Emperor – Kuzco – is a young man that desperately needs to mature. His view of the world ends at the tip of his nose. He cares only about his own wishes and desires. Furthermore, Kuzco removes anything or anyone that mistakingly interrupts his plans or opposes his groove. In time – some of which his spent as a lama – Kuzco learns that his groove must change in order to include and honor the contributions of others so that together, their grooves create a mutually beneficial world.

In our Scripture lesson for this week Jesus throws off the groove of the ruling religious leaders. “The holy people,” as they are called in Sidney Carter’s hymn, are angered that Jesus’ teachings not only contradict the teachings of old but also that his teachings are gaining popularity. Whereas people turned to the Temple to bring sacrifices and seek healing, now the people turned to Jesus. Whereas the people brought their questions about righteous living to the Temple, now the people brought their questions to Jesus.

The holy people were jealous. They feared the weakening of their influence and therefore the weakening of their power.

They misunderstood. Jesus did not want to usurp them. Jesus wanted to fulfill all the holy people had been teaching. But his presence and his teachings threw off the holy people’s grooves. Instead of working towards a mutually beneficial world, the holy people chose a course of action that would eliminate Jesus from the world.

Or so they thought…

It is frustrating when something interrupts our plans or our groove. The groove interrupter could be a person or an idea, it could be a decision or diagnosis, and anyone in Florida knows the weather is totally capable of interrupting one’s groove!

We have three choices or opportunities when we experience groove interrupting:

  1. We can avoid the interruption, thereby refusing to engage or respond to it.
  2. We can assimilate the interruption, thereby incorporating ourselves into its movement and beliefs.
  3. We can adapt the interruption, thereby working to find a mutually agreed upon solution and way forward.

I admit that these three choices appear awfully simple in our incredibly complex world. But perhaps thinking in simpler terms will allow us to address rather than dismiss groove interrupters. It is not always easy or comfortable to address groove interrupters, but we do not live in a time or have the luxury to continue dismissing them either.

It is true that the more a species adapts, the longer the species will thrive. At our very cores we have to choose to adapt our wills to God’s will. We are all headstrong and defiant. Our hearts are bent toward sinning. And so we choose to adapt our wills to God’s will, which leads us towards eternal life.

Towards the eternal groove.

What would our world be like if we applied this spirit of adaption to all groove interruptions? If we applied our thinking, our talents, and our skill sets in partnership with God’s grace to find the way our collective groove will move forward? If we did, then I think we would indeed secure a mutually beneficial world. We would thrive in a world that daily becomes more like the Kingdom of our Lord.

Prayer: “I danced on the sabbath when I cured the lame, the holy people said it was a shame; they whipped and they stripped and they hung me high; and they left me there on a cross to die. Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.”* Amen.

*”Lord of the Dance,” The United Methodist Hymnal 261.

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