Brooding, Moving, Dancing

Dancing in the Kingdom – Table of Contents

Dancing In the Kingdom – Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom Chapter 1 – Prelude

[Bible references: Genesis 1; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:19-21; Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Peter 5:10]

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth … and the Spirit of God brooded[1] over the face of the waters …

Like a bird sitting on eggs keeping them warm until the eggs would hatch and bring forth new birds, the Spirit hovered, brooded, over the earth ready to bring forth life of all sorts, but particularly creatures that would be like God, creatures that would reflect the character of God: transcendent, loving, wise, fruitful, etc. This is how the story begins, full of anticipation and hope for what must be a grand and wonderful future.

But even before the story begins, we may contemplate another mystery, the mystery of the one person God also being the three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The early church[2] struggled with this concept and eventually, in the second century, a Christian apologist, Tertullian, coined the term “Trinity” to describe this 3-persons in 1-person concept.

However, that tidy little term can mask over the impossible to understand idea of God being one person and three persons at the same time. There is Greek word available to us that addresses the complexity of this three-in-oneness, “perichoresis” which comes from two Greek words which mean “interpenetration” or “mutual indwelling.” This is meant to describe the interpenetration or mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“In that regard the term “perichoresis” (meaning “interpenetration,” “circumincession” or “mutual indwelling”) has been used theologically at least since the time of John of Damascus to refer to the way the three divine persons live in joyful, dynamic communion without merging, loss or distinction. It is said to be derived from the Greek term perchoreuo meaning “to dance around.” However, the evidence indicates that the term is derived from the different though similar looking perichoreo which refers to “interpenetration” but does not refer to dancing…. this does not mean that the concept itself is inappropriate, as evidenced by those who appreciate its use in that way.” [3]

While this term may be partly helpful in understanding this impossible to understand concept, there is another word that is very similar to perichoresis which means “to dance around,” which gives us a word picture of our living and complex God in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit not only interpenetrate but interact with one another, in a freewheeling but synchronized dance. This means that, as God’s image-bears, we can reflect the image of the loving, interpenetrating, interacting, and dancing God as we participate in His work of taking care of His Creation and of one another.[4]

This dance which started before Creation, has been joined by God’s image-bearers since the beginning of humanity. It is now our turn. We just need to learn the moves and join the dance.


[1]  Biblehub “Genesis 1:2” Bible Hub biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/1-2.htm Most translations or this phase use the terms “hovering” or “moving,” but there is also a case for using the term, “brooding,” as in a bird sitting on a nest of eggs.

[2] Van Ee, Joshua J. “The Church in the Old Testament” Westminster Seminary California 9 Nov 2017 www.wscal.edu/blog/the-church-in-the-old-testament The term “church” as used in this book will refer to what may more properly be called the “new testament church.” I wish to make that distinction because the term “church” may be properly applied to all of those who are “called out” to follow Yahweh.

[3] Edgar, Brian. “The God Who Plays: A Playful Approach to Theology and Spirituality,” Chapter 9: Kingdom: Playing with God, The Dance of Life Cascade Books 2017 (e-book)

[4] Miller, Darrow. “Perichoresis: Great Dance of God and Creation” Darrow Miller and Friends 16 July 2018 darrowmillerandfriends.com/2018/07/16/perichoresis-great-dance-god-creation/

Reflect

Our logic has limits when it comes to understanding the perichoresis of the Trinity, a one person, dancing community. How can we, as image bearers of God, reflect that one-person community?

Observe

Read Genesis 1.  Think of the Spirit of God hovering, moving and brooding over the earth. In your imagination, think about a spiritual being “giving birth” to physical living things, what would you expect to happen?

Author: transcendenttouched

I have been teaching the Bible to children and adults for over twenty years. Most recently, including teaching Discipleship/Confirmation classes. I have also been involved in various church leadership roles for many of those years. Until recently, my writing endeavors have been confined mainly to poetry. I've written an anthology of my first 40 years of writing poetry in my book, Growing. I have also written an overview of the Bible called, God Reveals Himself.

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