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Music and dancing
by Rev. Howard Ray Carey


For the title of this article I have chosen a phrase from one of the best loved and most famous parables of Jesus: that of the prodigal son, found in Luke, chapter 15

The older son, returning from work and approaching the father's house, 'heard music and dancing'.  Being of a dour nature, he was repelled by this ---- to him ---- unwarranted and unbridled merriment.  A servant kindly explained the occasion:   ''Your brother has come home, and your father has killed for him the fatted calf.'' (Modern equivalent: they are feasting on the choicest cuts from the freezer.)  To the angry sibling this seemed too much.  So since he would not, and indeed in his state of fury could not, enter the father's house, the father left the celebration to come out and try to explain and console him.

But the bitter son fumed: ''Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends.'' (Jerusalem Bible, Luke 15:29)  All the wealth of God belongs to us, does it not?  So indicated the father in his words to his frustrated offspring:   ''My son, all that I have is yours.''  It is thus apparent that this son could have had his own celebration at any time of his choosing, in any way he wished.  But his slave-psychology, expressed in the words 'I have slaved for you all these years', prevented any such joyous celebration. What a contrast we see in these two sons. The older one had set out in life doggedly and resentfully to do his slaving duty. The younger brother had set out to enjoy life.

After many mistakes and much suffering on a long journey home, this prodigal finds himself in the father's house, wearing the ring of sonship and the robe of glory (as it is often called) and celebrating with joyous music and dancing, while the older brother finds himself outside the father's house, in the cold of his bitter loneliness and judgmental attitude.  His judgmental stance against his brother is seen in the accusation: ''This son of yours (he could not bring himself to say 'my brother') has wasted your substance with harlots.''  Nobody had mentioned harlots before, and of course he had no way of knowing whether his brother had consorted with such persons.

What is the lesson for us here in the contrast between these two? Of course we are not to go out and waste our substance in riotous living.  Like this famous prodigal, we already, in our self-indulgence, have done too much of that!  But let us focus on the harmony, love and joy in store for us, symbolized by the music and dancing.  Though we have not yet reached the Father's House (monadic consciousness) the Christ shows us that,  if we will awaken spiritually, such love and joy can be ours right now.   This is reiterated for us over and over again in the Christ's recent Messages to us.  A representative example is recorded in Message No. 129:‘‘Many see around them a world chaotic and dangerous, and rightly so.   Nevertheless, within the maelstrom of this apparent chaos is a still center of calm, generating hope and change...  Be therefore joyful and glad indeed.   Spread widely the rhythm of Light and Joy and awaken in all you meet response to these glad tidings.’’

Again in Message No. 138: ‘My heart is full, as now I begin My Task, full of Love and Joy in its accomplishment. That Task is to take you with Me back to God, to the Source of your Being, and to show those who are ready His Shining Face... Take eagerly My gifts.  Choose to walk with Me into the Light of the future, and know the meaning of Joy, the treasure of Love.’’

Perhaps all of us, in our long and wandering past, have been the wasteful prodigal. High time now to share love, to share substance, and to experience and share the joy which gives rise to the music and dancing.

Even now, while on our long journey home to the Father’s House, as we in real love join hands with our brothers and sisters along the way, the joy which produces the music and dancing will be the glad experience of us all. Let’s do it now!


This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 


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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005