I love the phrase “dancing in a hurricane.” It is evocative of what it is like to live in these tumultuous times. In the United Methodist Church, with the dispute over LGBTQ+ issues (same gender marriage, ordination of ministerial candidates in a same gender marriage, etc.), the clamor over ongoing racial injustice, the struggle over doctrinal integrity, the rebellion against church discipline, etc. etc., we are trying to dance in a hurricane within a larger cultural and worldwide storm. I ran into the phrase “dancing in a hurricane” while reading Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late. It traces back to a ballad written by Brandi Carlile entitled “The Eye.” According to Friedman, the main verse of the ballad is:
“I wrapped your love around me like a chain - But I never was afraid that it would die - You can dance in a hurricane - But only if you’re standing in the eye.”The imagery can be borrowed and adapted to living as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Friedman continues, “These accelerations in technology, globalization and Mother Nature are like a hurricane in which we’re all being asked to dance. [U.S. President] Trump and the Brexiters sensed the anxiety of many and promised to build a wall against these howling winds of change. I disagree. I think the challenge is to find the eye.” (adapted from “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in The Age of Accelerations.”) In a Christian context, the image of the “eye” can be place holder of the will of God. I daily use the simple prayer, “Lord, your will. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.” In the hurricane of life, the Psalmist speaks.
46 God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. 2 That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea, 3 when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city, the holiest dwelling of the Most High. 5 God is in that city. It will never crumble. God will help it when morning dawns. 6 Nations roar; kingdoms crumble. God utters his voice; the earth melts. 7 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us! The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah
(Psalm 46:1-7)More than ever, in these times, we need to seek the eye of the hurricane. This is life lived in the fullness of allegiance to God in Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. I remain convinced and convicted that God is creating something new in our midst. A new (or, perhaps more properly stated, renewed!) church is being born amid the vortex of the hurricane of our time. Wesley’s undying proclamation, “the best of all is that God is with us,” clamors again for our embrace! In another part of my reading and study, I was reminded again of the Letter to Diognetus. Written in the 2nd century. The letter was produced when paganism was strong and dominant and Christianity was new and considered a dangerous cult. The letter is written by a Christian disciple to Diognetus who seeks to understand these counter-cultural people calling themselves Christians. (It opens with the line: “I understand, sir, that you are really interested in learning about the religion of the Christians.” Early Christian Fathers, edited by Cyril Richardson, p. 213) With beautiful elegance and straightforward simplicity, the author notes the difference Christians make in culture as they “dance in the eye of the hurricane.”
"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. … To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world.” (Letter to Diognetus)Today we desperately need to recover this kind of Christian living and witness spoken of in the hurricane (and persecution) of the 2nd century.