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A few years ago I was at Spring School of the United Reformed Church at Lee Abbey, Devon, having various biblical studies and a spiritual experience with lots of worship. One of those “spiritual experiences” was when I was staring at a white ceiling in my shared room after the sessions and was “challenged” by my room mate asking what I was doing. To which I replied: “I am thinking of the inner life of God”. Aha. “More specifically?”. I answered, “more specifically: the Perichresis of God”. We both laughed, but then actually we had a good theological conversation on the inner life of God and the Perichoresis.

Perichoresis is a Greek word, it means cyclical movement or “dancing around with one another”. It refers to the mutual indwelling of the Trinity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We find its roots in the New Testament: the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father." (Jn 14:1) We also find the term in the works of the Cappadocian Fathers and in the teachings of modern theologians like Karl Barth, Jurgen Moltmann or Miroslav Volf. They all claim the relationship of the Triune God is intensified by the relationship of perichoresis. This indwelling expresses and realizes fellowship between the Father and the Son. It is extreme spiritual intimacy, that’s why Moltmann speaks about the Crucified God in his central theology.

Actually, Jesus compares the oneness of this indwelling to the oneness of the fellowship of his church from this indwelling. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (Jn 17:21). On the first Good Friday the intimate relationship within the Triune God turned into a very deep, self-sacrificial love on the Cross for the world, where the “dancing around of the Triune God“ froze for a moment and the Son gave his spirit back to the Father. This all reminds me of the wonderful hymn: I danced in the morning and feel a kind of invited to join the dance led by the Resurrected:

“I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black; It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back; They buried my body and they thought I’d gone, But I am the dance and I still go on… / Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he. / They cut me down and I leapt up high, I am the life that’ll never, never die; I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he…”

After the “static experience” of “staring the white ceiling” (what I did in Lee Abbey) during lockdowns, being confined in our own houses mostly and having a limited daily routine by the pandemic, we need to join the “dancing Jesus” in our Christian lives. We are not opening the church on Easter Sunday yet, but will allow the renewing powers of the Resurrection to energise us. We may able to re-open – in what cautious way we don’t know yet, and please wait for confirmation – on Pentecost. May the dynamism of the Spirit make us “dance with the Triune God”. May joy come back to our church life. Pentecost. The date could not be more symbolic.

With love and prayers, John