Did Jesus Dance?

by Melannie Svoboda SND on February 4, 2019

Did Jesus dance? We don’t know for sure, but chances are he did. In Jesus’ time, dancing was customary at weddings—although men danced in a group with other men, and women danced in a group with other women. So besides working his first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus probably also danced there.

The wedding at Cana… The thought of Jesus turning water into wine, gladdens my heart. I like wine. I also like the fact that Jesus worked his first miracle at the request of his mother for the sole purpose (it seems) of preserving the young couple from embarrassment—and to prolong the party!

The thought of Jesus dancing—now that’s something that really delights me. I picture him stamping his feet to the beat, clapping his hands over his head, swaying, laughing, and turning around. Maybe he even sang the words of some of the songs that were played. What an image!

I wrote about Jesus dancing in two of my books. In By the Way (see reflection #77) and in Just Because (see poem #44). A friend of mine, Jan Toler, who lives near St. Louis, MO, read the reflection and was inspired to draw a picture of Jesus dancing. She said I could post it on this blog:

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “I could only believe in a God who knows how to dance.” At Cana, Jesus reveals to us a God who can dance!

Some questions for reflection:

Is it easy or difficult for you to picture Jesus dancing? Why?

Does it make any difference whether Jesus danced or not?

What role does dance play in your life? Does it play a role in your prayer or worship?

I have four wonderful dance videos for you today. You can pick one or as many as you want to watch.

The first is the father/daughter dance at a wedding. It starts with “Butterfly Kisses” and then moves on… (about 5 mins.)

Video #2 shows a group of Jewish men dancing (about 4 mins.)

This third video shows a mother/son dancing at a high school talent show. The woman is a counselor at the school (about 4 minutes):

And finally here is a group doing a beautiful Viennese Waltz (about 8 mins.):

Please share some of your thoughts below. We would love to hear some of your answers to the reflective questions and/or your thoughts on the dances you watched!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas DeFreitas February 4, 2019 at 4:15 am

Oh, Sr Melannie, such fun watching the videos! I started with the mother and son from Charlotte (judging from the basketball jerseys they both were wearing), and then watched “Butterfly Kisses” … such great fun! (I wanted a little more Bruno Mars in the mom & son video, though!)

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine Jesus dancing. There are some Christian traditions where dancing is forbidden. And even in our Catholic tradition, one can easily get the impression that the Son of God is too busy totalling up our mortal and/or venial sins to dance.

But as with Judaism, Catholicism values, or ought to value, creative expression of joy. Wasn’t it C. S. Lewis, the staid Anglican, who said, “We sin most when we ignore the apostolic injunction to rejoice”? At Mass sometimes, we sing the Shaker hymn “How can I keep from singing?” Perhaps we could substitute “dancing”!

Dance doesn’t play a part in my liturgical worship, exactly. But I dance at my building’s New Year’s Eve parties. One year, I was dancing with a 90-year-old woman, and a fellow scarcely younger than my dance partner leaned in and playfully growled, “Hey! Leave some room for the Holy Ghost!”

I suspect that when we are solemn, God is often not solemn. There are times for weeping and times for laughing, as Ecclesiastes reminds us. And there are times when our heart does cartwheels! I said earlier I don’t dance at church. But lately, at church, my heart is jumping for joy! Really living and vital things are being seen and heard at my new parish.

Well, anyway. As usual, I’ve afflicted all of you with my Polonius-like “brevity.” Long story short: Yes, any salutary creative joyful expression would seem to be blessed by God. (I can certainly picture Pope Francis dancing, by the by!)

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Mary February 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

Thank you for your personal “brevity”. I enjoyed every comment while I swayed to Billy Joel on my radio. I am smiling with Jesus. Hugs to you.
PS I have watched all these dances on my facebook. My friends and I have always loved to dance!

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John Hopkins February 4, 2019 at 7:06 am

Such great fun!

My wife and I went to a wedding this past Saturday, and, as usual, there was plenty of dancing at the reception (and sore muscles afterwards!) Later we both lamented the only time we dance these days is at reunions and weddings — what a shame! There’s just so much joy on the dance floor!

Did Jesus dance? Well, he was like us in all ways but sin! So yes! He did!

Once again, you have given us a smile to start the week, and my smile is especially big today because I’m a Patriots fan!

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Mary M Nausadis February 4, 2019 at 8:59 am

Oh boy, I love dancing and at a very young age perceived myself as a stage dancer. Of course that never materialized, but I spent many hours dancing when I was a young adult. My husband and I danced when we were younger and then my back came into play and I was afraid to do all the dances I had loved in the past.
I have an impossible time standing still when one of the songs at Mass has a swingy rythym. I look around me and see such a bunch of staid people….it doesn’t seem natural. The good thing is that everyone knows I can’t stay still, so they just smile at me……oh, I stand right in the front row 🙂

The videos were just delightful. I couldn’t help thinking about the close relationship the dad and daughter must have had to spend time choreographing all their movements…..that speaks of great love for each other. The mom and son too…..so many sons at that age think everything their moms do is stupid/corny/dumb, so this was really refreshing.
I watched them all, enjoyed the Jewish males and of course the beauty of the young waltzers. I had a smile on my face through them all.

I never thought about Jesus dancing before, but I love the image and believe he danced! That’ll give me more reason to move to the music in church!

Thank you, thank you for the delightful images all Sr. Melannie,
Mary

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Mary james February 4, 2019 at 9:12 am

I don’t know what I’d do if Jesus and the whole Trinity didn’t dance! I’m counting on spending eternity dancing in the flow of the Trinity. Loved the videos. Great memories of my dancing family

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NANCY MATRAS February 4, 2019 at 9:26 am

Imagine Jesus and I doing the polka and the next song is a waltz and we waltz right into heaven! Thank you Sister Melanie for your Monday morning inspirations to carry me thru the week.

Nancy

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Kathleen Magiera February 4, 2019 at 9:36 am

What fun Sr. Melannie! I like the father-daughter dance the best.

I think Jesus was definitely a dancer.

Kathleen

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Mary P February 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

I love the image (and the drawing) of Jesus dancing. I also think that Jesus was one of the wedding guests who contributed to the wine running out!

As I read your reflection, I remembered being at a family party twenty years ago. The party took place nine months after my father died. My niece, who was 12 at the time, and who had 7 years of dance class experience, pulled me onto the dance floor. When we first started dancing, I was tentative, but I leaned into the experience and picked up on my niece’s energy. We even wound up kicking off our shoes as the family gathered around watching us. It was the first time in months that I experienced joy. For me, it was an experience of the words of Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season … a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Thank you, once again, for stirring up old memories and allowing me to savor them.

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Josita February 4, 2019 at 11:31 am

Dear Melannie,
I love this blog! I can easily picture Jesus dancing…he was a happy human being…loved being with people. He is a true example of how we can be serious, prayerful and happy. Then we are balanced people!
Praying for your upcoming cruise…..hope you all do lots of dancing as well as reflecting! Wish I could be there. Have a wonderful, safe trip.
Love, Josita

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Jean February 4, 2019 at 12:08 pm

Good Monday Morning Sister Melannie,
What a delightful way to start the week and forget about all the snow and sub-zero temperatures and concentrate on dancing with Our Lord.
Thank you!!

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Beverly February 4, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for bringing such joy to me on this Monday morning! I just had to smile at all of the videos. And, yes, Jesus did dance!

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Sister Julie Grote February 4, 2019 at 1:21 pm

The Viennese Waltz was just heavenly. I have a waltz planned for the entrance of my Wake service in our Convent. I hope we can dance in heaven. Thanks Melanie!

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Sr. Regina Hlavac February 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

I think this was your best one yet. And that is saying something, because all of your blogs are wonderful and thought-provoking. But this one just made me get up and dance. I can see Mary giving dancing lessons to Jesus, as well as Joseph. Dance is an expression of the inner soul, So I can just see Jesus dancing throughout his whole life.
Thank you for sharing these four wonderful YouTube videos of happy dancing. You are amazing. Blessings on your ministry and thanks for sharing of yourself with us. Time to dance!

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Joni Dugan February 4, 2019 at 5:01 pm

Gees, Melanie: you have all your passengers on your upcoming cruise right here in the comments: what a fun and loving and dancing group that would be.
I loved the videos and of course your comments. My favorite would be the Jewish dance and the father and daughter. Jewish dance because I worked at a Jewish temple for about 5 years and witnessed the dancing — what joy! And the father-daughter dance simply because I love the relationships.
One time when I was at my “other church” when I was searching, I actually got up and danced with the others around the church. What an awesome, freeing experience. And you know me — I am NOT a dancer!
Take care and keep on dancing!

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Marilyn Woidat February 4, 2019 at 5:43 pm

I love dancing by myself to GODSPELL and saw the musical twice with our family before they were teenagers.
I also enjoy dancing to Jesus Christ Superstar and lastly dancing to
Bruce Springsteen’s( Pete )Seeger Sessions is very aerobic and fun!

Besides Jesus dancing, I think He has a wonderful sense of Jewish humor!

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Marva February 4, 2019 at 7:06 pm

It is easy for me to imagine Jesus dancing. He probably kicked up a storm.
He probably enjoyed hanging out with his buddies, and if they danced so would He.
To me his dancing just made Him more like us. People around Him would feel more at ease.

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Marty February 4, 2019 at 11:12 pm

Great videos. I lovve dancing. I am very sure Jesus danced. He first lesrned in the womb when His mom and cousin were dancing as they sang the Magnificat. John also because Elizabeth said she felt him doing so.

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Ginger Haug February 5, 2019 at 10:45 am

This was the best blog yet!!! I know Jesus danced, he did whatever his contemporaries did, I love dance, and watch all the dancing shows. I am wheelchair bound, but my upper body dances for joy pretty often! Thank you for so much joy!

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Kathi S February 5, 2019 at 11:16 am

Thank you for sharing—your writings, and in particular these dance videos. I love picturing Jesus smiling and dancing! I recently felt the urge to incorporate “dance” (body movements) into my spiritual journey. Just felt natural to move my body to the music during prayer. Your videos also brought some joyful memories back to my son’s wedding in 2016. He asked me to do the mother/son dance with a bit of choreography— I was thrilled! We practiced together for months—a bonding time! It was such a thrilling and happy time to share with my boy. Thank you for reminding me how special dance can be. If you feel so inclined, here is the link to the 3- 1/2 minute video of our happy mother/son dance: https://youtu.be/8Zcoy5zRe04

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carol elsholz February 5, 2019 at 11:16 am

I love to dance, and just know Jesus danced, too.
I often go to Carrie Newcomer’s video, “Room at the Table,”
which I first heard on your blog, and dance along (modified!)
with the cloggers and all. Your gift of joy is just like dancing.
Thanks…

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Tom February 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Melannie, thanks for this wonderful blog. It has prompted me to set aside my regrets for dancing so seldomly in this life and to live in joyful anticipation of taking every opportunity to dance in the next, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” as we heard in today’s reading from Hebrews.

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Jean Canatsey February 5, 2019 at 10:21 pm

I first experienced Liturgical Dance at Midnight Mass in a Carmelite Monastary about 45 yrs. ago. Two nuns, clad in tights and tunics, danced around a circular altar to “Wonderful Councelor”. What a moving Communion Meditation!
Did Jesus dance? I can’t imagine that he didn’t!

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Lilly Weierick February 6, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Thinking of Jesus dancing makes my heart happy

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Linda February 6, 2019 at 9:59 pm

What a delightful topic! As a child, the first dances I learned were polkas and country and western styles. Then as a teenager, I moved on to the
Unforgettable “Twist”! Seems like a million years ago.
I totally believe that Jesus danced! I can’t see him sitting like a stick in
the mud at the wedding when everyone else was celebrating. Jesus
loved to be in the thick of things as far as human beings went, and I
so look forward to meeting “The Lord of the Dance!”

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Carol February 11, 2019 at 7:40 am

Dancing is a great expression of giving your spirit freely. It exudes joy & happiness when you just let the spirit lead you. Thank God for the urge & need to dance.

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