King David and the ark of the covenant
Mark Chagall, c. 1956
Dear St. Luke family:
I’ve quoted author Brené Brown in sermons a few times. Brown is a sociologist and author who, as one writer put it, “put vulnerability on the map” a little over ten years ago in a TEDTalk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability” (2010) (which you can see here). Brown explains that vulnerability – that is, uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure – is the key to connection. After all, love itself is uncertain. It leaves us emotionally exposed. Further, to put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation – that’s also vulnerability. To let ourselves sink into the joyful moments of our lives even though we know that they are fleeting, even though the world tells us not to be too happy lest we invite disaster – that’s also vulnerability.
In this Sunday’s Scripture passage, King David makes himself vulnerable by “dancing with all of his might before the Lord” as the Ark of the Covenant is brought into Jerusalem. It may have been politically savvy, as well, but it was also vulnerable. His wife, Michal, condemns him for appearing foolish in front of the people of the kingdom. King David wasn’t cool, but what Michal doesn’t understand is that his dance connected him to the people. As Brown puts it, “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen. … Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
What might it mean in your life if the appropriate response to the presence of the Lord is to be vulnerable, to be authentic, to be really seen, to be “uncool”? This week, our music director Becky Viebrock told me the choir is preparing an anthem for later this summer entitled, “I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing.” Other verses to this old spiritual include, “I’m gonna pray when the Spirit says pray,” “I’m gonna shout when the Spirit says shout,” and even, “I’m gonna moan when the Spirit says moan,” and “I’m gonna dance when the Spirit says dance.” All very uncool. And what if we add, “I’m gonna speak up when the Spirit says speak up”? And “I’m gonna share my ideas when the Spirit says share your ideas”? And “I’m gonna try something new when the Spirit says try something new”?
And how can we help each other be more authentic, and less cool?
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See you on Sunday!
Grace and peace,