The Greek Fathers in the fourth century chose the word perichoerisis to describe the perfect, mutual indwelling of the Trinity. It literally means “dancing around.” I had a difficult time understanding what this had to do with me when I first studied it. But it was Jurgen Moltmann, the great German theologian, who opened up for me the notion of Sabbath as play in his book, Theology of Play. In Proverbs 8, he argued, we observe God “playing” when he made the world. “I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in humankind” (8:30-31). God informs Job that when he created the world, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). God is a dancing, playful God. There is a playful wastefulness built into God’s ways in that millions of seeds never germinate, leaves on trees that turn. Read more.
Like most leaders I tend to work too much. My family didn’t do play. We worked hard. I naturally bought this into my leadership for Christ over the last 25 years at New Life. Jurgen Moltmann’s, A Theology of Play (out of print of course), has the best theology I have read on this topic. The following are his few nuggets of gold from his book as described in Ben Witherton III ‘s, The Rest of Life: 1. Play foreshadows the joy of the eschaton where all manner of drudgery and disease and decay and death will be left behind. It is not useless activity. 2. Play is a celebration of life lived to its fullest. 3. In play we emulate God’s actions who did not create the universe because it was a necessity. God is playful. He enjoys creating and playing. 4. “Play relativizes our ‘over-seriousness’ toward life, filling us with a spirit of joy. Read more.
My family growing up was never very good at delight, play, and enjoying the healthy, God-given pleasures of life. Added to this was a Christian formation in my early years that reinforced a subtle theology that the more you suffered for Christ, then the more loved you were by Him. We were to work, to do for Christ, especially among those of us serving in urban centers like New York City. The journey of emotional health and contemplative spirituality have helped me enormously, but it has been a long, slow process of growth. I am slowly getting there, learning to enjoy pleasure, gifts, fun, dance, wine, and celebrating! I’ve just completed The Good of Affluence by John Schneider, a professor of theology out of Calvin College in West Michigan. I do not agree with all he says, but he makes a number of excellent points. One, humans were designed by God to enjoy and. Read more.