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15.04.2022

Dancing in the Shadow of the Cross

I defy you to listen to ‘Freedom’ by Jon Batiste and not find yourself smiling and grooving away.

The Grammy-award winning video, much like the artist, exudes joy, lightness, and, well, freedom.

But don’t be fooled by the dancing. Life hasn’t always been simple or easy for Batiste. Growing up on the same New Orleans streets as where FREEDOM was filmed, he experienced poverty, racism, and flooding following Hurricane Katrina.

More recently, the night of his 11 Grammy nominations coincided with the first day of his wife’s chemo treatment for leukaemia. The pair even got married the night before her bone marrow transplant surgery.

This is a man who knows what it’s like to live in the tension between two realities. To experience both the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow in almost the same moment.

That Batiste is able to do so speaks to the depth of his faith in his saviour, who walked a similar path on the first Easter weekend 2,000 years ago. The unbearable pain of death, the unbelievable joy of resurrection. To be a Christian is to be well-acquainted with the tension between the now and the not yet, as we see both beauty and brokenness on our frontlines.

But there’s something else we can learn from Batiste this Easter weekend. To be a Christian is also to take up our cross and, with Christ, dance along the via Dolorosa. As he said in his Grammy acceptance speech, light and healing can overcome pain and depression.

It is finished. Jesus, pioneer and perfecter of faith, endured the cross because of the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:1–3). As we fix our eyes on him, the same joy bleeds into us, giving us strength when we’re weary and hope when we’re losing heart. Through his sacrifice, we’re liberated from the darkness to dance to the music of the resurrection.

What might this sort of church look like, out in the world? In the offices, streets, and neighbourhood where we run our race, we’ll find no shortage of suffering and hardship. But we also have the freedom to do what Batiste does in the video: risk looking foolish as we joyfully live in the light of what will be.

As we do so, may we be an all-singing, all-dancing, prophetic witness to the coming kingdom, where death is defeated and tears are wiped away, and we join together to rejoice ‘with so much freedom’.

Matt Jolley
Editor, Connecting with Culture

 

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