“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing…” (Lk 15: 21-25)

On this Sunday of the Prodigal Son, NC-people also celebrate the feast of “The First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist,” – who was famously beheaded when Herod’s birthday party, at which there was music and dancing, took a very dark turn (Mt 14: 6-11). One might think, because of that incident, that “music and dancing” would generally be frowned upon in Christianity. But I’m noting that this isn’t so, as I’m re-reading both Scripture-passages, – the narrative about the Beheading of John the Baptist, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the Father throws quite the party for His newly-“found” son, complete with “music and dancing.”

As Lent draws near, and we tend to “eat and make merry” before it, in our various traditions (like “Carneval” in the West, and “Butter Week” in the Byzantine church-calendar), I say Thank You, Lord, for giving us times of “music and dancing,” as well as times of fasting and lamentation, in our beautiful traditions. Our Lord is a Lord Who recognizes our need for both, and blesses us to engage in both, at the appropriate times and in His light.

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