I have the privilege of writing on dance as an art form in the Christian faith. I call it a privilege because I believe in dancing. I believe in dance as an art, but even more so I believe in dance as an integral part of living life to the full with and for God.

This might be one of the more complicated arts in my mind. Dancing in our culture has been relegated to the side lines. Whether hidden in shady nightclubs, exposed after one too many drinks at a wedding, penalized when done post scoring a touchdown, or observed as a performance in an extravagant theatre, it is not a central part of our life. Maybe if we all signed up for “Dancing with the Stars” we would get out on the floor a little bit more. But many people I imagine can go days, weeks, months, even years without dancing, without moving their bodies with intent to an irresistible beat (The rhythm is gonna get you. Maybe).

Dance is not only on the periphery of life, occasionally consumed as entertainment, but it is even more restricted in our North American Christian culture. Dancing can be seen as over sexualized evil. It can be feared as leading to sins of lust and teens making babies (watch Footloose for that one). Or it can viewed in over-simplified childishness (Nutcracker, anyone?). Or it can even be seen as frivolous (who has time to dance when there are serious world issues to be tackling, and even more, theological quests for knowledge?).

Now for the shocker. God LOVES dancing. In scripture, time and time again, we meet men and women worshipping, praising and glorifying our Lord with dance and movement.

And let’s turn now, for the sake of my argument, to the kind of dancing that occurs in a church service. How many of you just made that grimace face I made while typing? It is not pretty. Sometimes there are flags involved or strangely modest yet form fitted layered costumes. And as such it seems to be more of a distraction than an art form used to commune with the Holy one. So yes, North American Christian Culture, let us just forget about dancing.

At least I think that is where we have mistakenly landed. Put away your tutus and your ribbon dancers at the age of 12, or take a walk of shame at 21, but please please please keep that dancing out of our community’s pursuit of Christ.

Now for the shocker. God LOVES dancing. In scripture, time and time again, we meet men and women worshipping, praising and glorifying our Lord with dance and movement (Ex 15:20, Ps 30:11, Ecc 3:4, Jer 31:4, Ps 150:4). It is most often referred to in the bible as a “spontaneous expression of joy and delight in the Lord” . More than 10 times! It is rarely mentioned in any other way. It is inextricably linked most often to a physical manifestation of an overwhelmingly wonderful experience of God. And what’s more – He delights in us as we dance in this way!

King David is famous, well maybe infamous, for dancing with such intensity, joy and fervour that his clothes couldn’t even contain him (2 Sam 6). I personally have never felt such momentous joyful praise that I shimmied right out of my sweater, but man, I imagine in heaven we will all be dancing like David, and with Jesus right along side us. Hopefully, we will be mature enough then to handle this image, which might be making you smirk.

Many of you may be feeling uncomfortable right about now. Dancing? Dancing with intensity? Dancing furiously with Jesus? In public?? Yes, it is mind-boggling. But it is good. Good in that Biblical way. God wants us to get our groove on as a way of interacting with him and worshipping him.

God wants us to get our groove on as a way of interacting with him and worshipping him.

And maybe you are unsure of how this can be worked out in our modern era, which is light years away from the cultural realities of the Jewish people in ancient Palestine. Well, I am with you. I have no idea how to fix this! But I want to stir our hearts to wonder. I grew up dancing. I was a part of my church’s “praise dance team” (yes, all preteen girls, yes we wore white flowing skirts, yes I did a dance to “Butterfly Kisses”). As a kid I loved pushing the couch and chairs out of my living room, rolling up the rug and shaking my tail feather to some DC Talk. But as an adult in real life it is somehow not quite as free and pure as it seems it was meant to be. How can we reclaim what has been lost?

Yesterday morning my darling 2.5 year old pushed the kitchen chair over to the light switch and commenced switching all lights off. As I sat in the dark trying to sip my tea and not express annoyance with her behaviour I was pleasantly surprised to find her standing by my hip reaching for me.

“It’s dance time Mama. Get the lights”

The lights are little glow sticks left over from a sermon illustration sitting on her Daddy’s desk. So yes, we did. We got our pre-breakfast rave dance party on in our living room to some sick beats from my iPhone. And it was pure joy and freedom. No shame.

I think this is the heart beat of God in dance. He simply reaches for you and says, “Let’s hit it.” (“It” being the proverbial dance floor). He doesn’t care what you wear, how you move, what style of music you choose, or what other people may be thinking. He just likes it when we express ourselves to him. And dance is a pretty great way to express praise, joy, freedom, and shameless worship.

If you are a dancer, advocate for this. Lead some discussion groups. Or even ask around if any-one would join you in finding a space to express some physical worship. If you aren’t a dancer, become one! Seriously, anyone can dance if one decides to dance. Fact. It does not have to be choreographed to Tchaikovsky to be pleasing to the Lord. Turn on some good tunes, think about the goodness of the Lord, and let go!

Ready? And a 5, 6, 7, 8.[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”What do you think?” txt_align=”center” style=”flat” color=”white” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Let’s Talk!” btn_style=”outline” btn_color=”black” btn_align=”center” css_animation=”top-to-bottom” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stpf.ca%2Freachout||” css=”.vc_custom_1457214571355{margin-top: 15px !important;margin-right: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 15px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-right-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;border-left-width: 0px !important;background-color: #00cce6 !important;border-left-color: #ffffff !important;border-right-color: #ffffff !important;border-top-color: #ffffff !important;border-bottom-color: #ffffff !important;}”]

Are you ready to put your dancing shoes on? Or have we missed the point? Whatever you think, we want to know.

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