By Mandy Smith
On a seemingly ordinary morning, in a busy Belgian train station, the announcements of arrivals and departures were suddenly interrupted by Julie Andrews’s familiar voice intoning, “Let’s start at the very beginning . . .” A few commuters paused for a second to wonder why the train station would air “Do-Re-Mi,” before returning to their morning rush.
Then, in the center of the atrium’s tiled floor, a single man started to dance, and before long a passing little girl had joined in. A crowd began to form to watch the spectacle but, at each measure, members of the crowd joined the dance and it was no longer clear who was a performer and who was a spectator. Soon dozens of schoolchildren were pouring down the stairs to become part of the group that was growing with every “do,” “re,” and “mi.” By the end of the song the dancing mob had swelled to more than 200 people of all ages, and those who happened to be there had a story of the ordinary day when the crowd suddenly moved as one.
The thing that made this train station dance, and other “flash mobs” like it, different from most public performances was that, right up to the moment of their cue, the performers looked like the usual passersby, carrying backpacks and talking on cell phones. They weren’t on a stage but were among the crowd. And because of this factor, although they didn’t know the dance steps, the onlookers were also swept up in it and many danced along however they could. The jubilation left after the last bars of the song had died away was not just from having watched a dance, but also from experiencing a moment when human beings came together and made something harmonious in the middle of their disparate lives. It was a moment when what we have in common was more apparent than what separates us.
The dance we’re invited to this morning is very simple and involves just two steps. It takes no rehearsal, and we don’t even need to know each other’s names. But as we join in this action of eating and drinking together, we enjoy a moment when everything else stops and we are in unison. We share an understanding that, regardless of our differences, we are drawn together by our common love for Jesus and our common acceptance of his sacrifice.
Mandy Smith, who originally is from Australia, is an author, artist, and pastor at University Christian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. Her latest book, Making a Mess and Meeting God: Unruly Ideas and Everyday Experiments for Worship, has just been released by Standard Publishing (www.standardpub.com/makingamess).