Image: Inuvik Drummers and Dancers
At any large public celebration in our northern communities you can generally count on the entertainment for the evening including the Drumming and Dancing. One of the groups I first got to know when I was pastor in Inuvik was the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers and they are one of the best representatives of the region and its culture as they share the traditional dance, singing and drumming of the northern people.
The dancing and drumming at first seems simple, a steady beat and a few repetitive gestures. But, like a message written in the dots and dashes of Morse code, what is actually shared through the rhythm and dance comes to reveal what is actually a sophisticated art form that is not just music and dance but a rich medium of story telling and history.
The group in Inuvik was brought together in 1989 by a younger generation of adult Inuvialuit who wanted to bring drum dancing into their lives, having been inspired by the elders of the original Mackenzie Delta Drummers and Dancers. From their guidance and instruction, the Group slowly learned the stories of the songs, the drumming, and the motions of the dances. Through dedication and practice the members resurrected what might have become a lost a treasure.
It is not easy setting out to begin a new enterprise or to keep alive an old one. Just being inspired is not enough to make it happen, you actually have to put yourself out there and risk failing. In the Gospel, Jesus is encouraging his disciples to have the courage to continue his work when he is gone. He has warned them of the pitfalls and dangers they will encounter but, more importantly, he tells them they will not be alone, God’s Spirit will be with them.
When we have the guidance of the Spirit nothing else matters. We do not have to be experts or professionals we simply need to have faith, a heart set on doing the will of God and the willingness to try. In the Acts of the Apostles we see the disciples never giving up on the mission even when it became difficult. After Stephen was martyred and everyone scattered, Philip carried on and found great success as he continued to preach and share the Good News in spite of the danger and not knowing what the future would hold.
Like an apprentice carpenter on his first day at the job site, it is helpful to have a few tools in our bag that will help us begin. In Peter’s letter, he offers a wonderful tool for sharing the faith,
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…and do so with gentleness.”
This is not meant to be a cliché or a one size fits all talking point. Take some time and think about your own personal faith and ask yourself, “What is the reason for your hope?” You never know who may need to hear it one day.
We are going to make mistakes and have our share of failures, but it would be worse not to try out of fear. G.K. Chesterton offers the adage, “If it is worth doing it is worth doing poorly.” He does not advocate for a poor effort but only that we need not be afraid of the outcome of our efforts be they modest or great. We need to simply offer our efforts in a sincere manner and let the Spirit take care of the rest.