I share “A parable” written by Rev. Paddy Eastwood of Haney BC.
Long ago all forests were filled with elves. The deepest part of the forest, under the protection of large, dark green leaves, was the home for dancing elves. These elves knew that to be truly elf-like, they had to dance. They looked forward to the day when all the elves of the forest would dance, but in the meantime, they proclaimed their nature by dancing themselves.
The troupe included elves who wore green gowns and elves who wore white. They said that it didn’t matter what colour the clothes were (they were all dancing elves) but the truth is only the “white” elves actually danced. The “green” elves were young and didn’t seem to dance with appropriate solemnity. In fact, they often made mistakes in the steps and tired easily. Dancing was important and so the white elves decided that until the green elves could dance well, they would study dancing.
Thus, the two kinds of dancing elves were separated – the white ones dance, the green learn about dancing.
The white elves told everyone that all dancing elves belonged to the troupe, but even though the green elves learned a lot, they did not feel a part of it. Surely dancing elves dance, why not the green ones? Don’t you learn to dance by dancing?
The white elves tried to answer the green elves’ questions, but it became more and more difficult to explain. Why didn’t the green dancing elves dance?
The white elves thought about the green elves for a long time. They decided that all dancing elves would dance, not just the white ones. But having said that, they also know it would be hard to change. Everyone was used to the old ways. Everyone was a little bit afraid of what would happen once green elves started dancing with white elves. Some of the elves couldn’t even imagine what it would be like. Would the dancing be as good?
With some trepidation, the white dancing elves opened the doors of the dance hall and invited the green elves to come and dance too.
I’d like to be able to report that were were no difficulties once everyone started dancing together. But that would not be honest. Not everyone liked the new ways at first. There were more than a few “I told you so’s” and at least three last minute sessions, ironing out the bugs (One white elf explained these sessions were to be expected – after all, dancing is serious business!)
And yet, something special has happened that little troupe of dancing elves. It’s hard to pinpoint. The dances are pretty much the same. Some steps have been changed. Maybe they do the intricate dances a little less often, and the easy ones more often. There are more mistakes.
It’s really the elves who have changed. Their eyes twinkle more brightly. Their smiles seem more ready. The green elves are delighted to be dancing and the white elves are surprised by what they learn from the green elves.
The gospel is for all people, no matter what their age. Yet we in the church, often divide ourselves as did the dancing elves – we educate our children (the green elves), expecting that one day they will join the adults (the white elves) in worship, pastoral care, and mission and outreach. We baptise our children, welcoming them as members of Christ’s church and offer wonderful programmes for our children, designed to teach them the faith at their own age appropriate level. We believe we do this for their own good. Yet, dancing elves must dance and Christians must worship.