Monday, September 24, 2018

Dance



Douglas Frank Photo

Dance

Do you dance, or do you say that I can’t dance? Even with The World of Dance and Dancing with The Starsdo you still not want to dance? I think of going to Mayhews Dancing School in seventh grade a the Woman’s Club. It was indeed a puberty squeezing experience. Memories are not good except for the time a friend flushed a cherry bomb down a toilet bringing a new quick step to our dance. Well, the Bible says that we serve a God who dances over us; did you know that? There is also quite a bit of dancing by believers in Scripture, some good and some not.

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing” (Exodus 15:20). We never read of the millions of Israelites dancing after being freed from slavery in Egypt, but they did celebrate with dancing around the golden calf of idolatry when Moses was away, sadly with Aaron and Miriam leading. But far more appropriate yet controversial dancing was King David’s when the Arc of the Convenant was returned, “Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might”  (2 Samuel 6:14, 1 Chronicles 15:29). His wife Michael was embarrassed and angry, despising him at such a show. She missed the celebration in heart and soul that David led wholeheartedly for the Lord. A little later in Chapter 18 there was great singing and dancing in the streets when King Saul and David returned from routing the Philistines. But soon this fete also turned south as the women sang of Saul’s killing 1000s and David’s 10,000s. Jealousy rose murderously in Saul against a triumphant David. Humans often just don’t like others getting credit where it is due. This trait is unholy and selfish, not pleasing to God. 

David, the “Sweet Psalmist of Israel,” wrote 40% of the psalms including Psalm 30, a song for the dedication of the temple. Herein he exalts the Lord for lifting all up from the depths bringing healing to the land, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent”  (Psalm 30:11-12). A Psalm of Ascent probably written by Levites exhorts, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp”(Psalm 149:3). And then again in the final Psalm 150 we read of praises to God, “praise Him with timbrel and dancing, praise Him with the strings and pipe.” Then there is a turn away from dancing to mourning in the Prophet Jeremiah’s Lamentations saying, “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning” (Lamentations 5:15). Sorrow came in the exile.

Near the end of the Old Testament the Prophet Zephaniah wrote of the coming judgment on the rebellious Israelites. Yet one of my favorite Scripture verses also announced God’s redemption following judgment. 
The Lord your God is in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing (and dancing) 
(Zephaniah 3:17).
The Hebrew word, ‘rejoice,’ means to “spin around under violent emotion.” The phrase “rejoice over you” literally means to “dance, skip, leap, and spin in joy.”God delights in His creation. There is a time for mourning and for dancing as Ecclesiastes 3 beautifully articulates. 

I believe in a God who dances. Mary Ward a 16thcentury religious women wrote:

May the God who dances in creation,
who embraces us with human love,
who shakes our lives like thunder,
bless us and drive us out with power
to fill the world with God’s justice.

Even famous unbeliever Friedrich Nietzsche said, 
If they want me to believe in their god,
they'll have to sing me better songs.....
I could only believe in a god who dances.

I believe that better songs have been written and bring people to signing and dancing in worship around the world daily. I remember the first interpretive dance I watched in response to a sermon on praising God. Many legalists were aghast; others caught the joyous flow. It is the heart that God looks at not the outward appearance. I recall with a chuckle how a number of Bible studies opened my first book, Great is God’s Faithfulness: a Devotional on the Psalms. Everypsalm chapter was prefaced with a graphic landscape photograph taken by my cousin in the rugged Northwest (see above). The groups spent most of their time finding the spiritual significance of the psalm not in my commentary but in the photograph. The water dancing around the rocky seascape spoke volumes. 

So do you dance to the Lord, or are you too conscious of what others will think? I get that, yet don’t want to be the only one dancing to the music. I enjoy attending Pentecostal or African American services where the Spirit leads to physical action. Every morning when it’s not raining or snowing I bike and sing, celebrating and praising the Lord in the dark along the River Road. I may not be able to dance, but I sure can sing and ride joyfully to the Lord. Try getting in step with the Holy Spirit and dance. 



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