Lorie Hershey, West Philadelphia
I enjoyed dancing in my youth and now with my children, but it is not something I do in the presence of many. And yet the image of dancing intersects my relationship with God and experience of call; the harmonizing of movements with an overarching melody and rhythm. The draw of music connects deeply, awakening God’s spirit within. The desire to express the motion stirred by a song; the give and take required for partner dancing. There is something about the image and act of dancing that describes our relationships, both divine and human.
I’ve heard professional ballet dancers describe dance as always being a part of them. They were always twirling, skipping, moving to music that others could not hear. Similarly, I too have felt like God has always been a part of life even when I did not recognize the Spirit’s presence.
There was music stirring inside me moving me to twirl, skip: to dance. Many times that music got distorted, muted, or misplaced as the events of life overpowered it. There were times that I tuned out the music, but it remained. I now realize the music was God’s Spirit, inviting me to dance, calling me to ministry.
I felt an affinity for the church early in life as I witnessed my mother’s volunteer leadership work within my home congregation. I began active involvement in the church and found energy for church leadership and outward confirmation of my gifts. I felt the inner nudging of God. Yet it took me until my early thirties to recognize this as a call to ministry, let alone pastoral ministry. I accepted God’s invitation without fully knowing where the dance would lead. I tentatively stepped out and went to Eastern Mennonite Seminary.
In seminary, I began to find God’s deep grace and healing through spiritual direction and the writing of music. My husband, Brent, and I began providing music for liturgical dances during worship times and I found another step in my faith journey. While not being the one upfront dancing, I found that I was dancing through the music and it became a life-changing experience for me.
I found my relationship with God becoming more free and life-giving; while my call to pastoral ministry deepened and was affirmed. I was beginning to truly dance. Sure, there are still times of hesitancy and clumsiness–I’m sure I’ve stepped on God’s toes many a time–but I experience grace, courage, and coordination that could only come from God.
As I discerned my call to West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, I clearly heard God say: “Dance, Lorie, just dance.” And so again, I step out in faith not knowing exactly what the dance will look like; although one that will include some hip-hop for sure.
I continue to be energized by God’s calling to find our song, recognize Christ throughout our days, and be transformed by the Holy Spirit. It is exciting as we work together to create a life-giving dance, rooted in Christ, welcoming toward our neighbors, and working towards the Shalom of the city.