When a beloved teacher passed away, his funeral procession took an interesting turn. His students danced, practically on his grave, and it was a powerful tribute to their love and respect for teacher Dawson Tamatea. New Zealand’s Manawatu Standard quoted Palmerston North principal David Bovey as saying this was a “very emotional and powerful performance”.
That’s an understatement.
An eruption of noise and movement.
Then silence again.
Let no one say dancing at funerals is an inappropriate response to death.
Dancing and Dirges
People respond to good and bad in unique ways. Sure, most people exhibit signs of happiness at joyful life events and most exhibit signs of sorrow at sad life events. But sometimes these are misinterpreted by those looking on from the sidelines.
Jesus knew this from first-hand experience.
Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’
“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” (Luke 7:31-35.)
When it comes to critics, Jesus was saying, there’s no pleasing some people. He calls these critics childish, lacking wisdom. In fact, they had forgotten one of the most memorable passages of wisdom literature in Scripture.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
… a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance … (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4.)
As believers in Jesus, we get to laugh and mourn and weep and dance as well, knowing that Jesus is with us in all these times.
So follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ who lives within you and let no one criticize you for how you respond to the joys and sorrows of life. How you express that is as unique as you are.
There is a proper time for mourning and a proper time for dancing, and sometimes the time to mourn is exactly the time to dance.
Just ask Mr. Tamatea’s students.