5“Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
(Luke, quoting Isaiah 40)
There was a little girl who danced in the aisle during the Eucharistic Prayer this morning, the prayer that recites the story of God’s saving work in the world, culminating in Christ Jesus and the gift of the bread and wine. It proclaims the Words of Institution. It invokes the Spirit. It begins and ends with singing, including the Sanctus, (“Holy, Holy, Holy” that Isaiah heard the seraphim sing in the presence of God). It anticipates that day when all things are made new. As we recited the story, she danced – with joy, with freedom, with utter unselfconsciousness. It was perfect.
It was also the day of her first communion.
There is something deeply sacred and profound about Holy Communion. Here, we remember Jesus and that night in which he was betrayed. Here, we are again at the table where Jesus washed feet and broke the bread. Here, we are once again in the garden where the high priest’s thugs snatch him in the dark. Here, we are once again face to face with the mystery of the cross and the mercy that forgives even this – the complete rejection and murder of the perfectly faithful one.
But it is also a moment of perfect joy, for here we are on the hillside with the 5,000 as a child’s lunch becomes a feast for all. Here, we are at Cana in Galilee where water becomes the finest wine. Here, we are with the disciples at Emmaus where Jesus revealed himself in the breaking of the bread. Here, we are at the Sea of Galilee with the risen Christ preparing breakfast and bidding us come and eat. Here, we are singing the song of the angels and anticipating the day when the tree of life bears fruit every month “and its leaves are for the healing of the nations.” Here, we are welcomed to the wedding banquet that has no end.
Here, we hear the promise that prison doors are opened and lives set free. Here, we hear the promise that troubled hearts are calmed and broken hearts made whole. Here, we are invited to hear the song of the angels. Here, we are invited to hear the music of the spheres: the world and all its creatures belongs to God. It begins in perfect goodness and ends in perfect goodness – because God is perfect goodness.
It is an occasion for dancing.