One of the things I first heard when coming here is “we dance well.”
Last night, some people proved that to be true.
But it also applies to living life together - dancing through whatever life throws at us.
This is our second week worshiping in the Community Center - last week went so well (thanks again to Diana & Deacons who made it happen).
It fit so well with the message that Diana had picked out weeks ago
Funny enough….works well again today. I did specifically chose this Scripture because of its reference to dance, right after the Luau. Little did I know we would be back in the CC with some remnants of Luau around us.
We dance well.
Good thing for us there is biblical precedent for dancing!
David, along with the people of Israel, are moving the ark of God in today’s Scripture. Along the way, David is dancing...to the tunes of songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. It was quite the parade!
Some questions that may come to mind when reading this passage….
What is this ark thing? Why are they moving it?
This ark is not the mighty ark of a boat most of us know from Scripture. This ark is the “ark of the covenant.” It is the representation of God among the people of Israel. It is a bit like our altar table, though, heftier in meaning and construction. Scripture tells us that God gave the people very specific instructions for how it was to be built and handled.
For the people at that time, it was where God resided. The ark was to be at the center of the community.
And why were they moving it? (Was their A/C out as well?) David was moving it because he was establishing his leadership. The ark had been captured in a previous conflict with the Philistines, then it was returned by them because they were afraid of its power, and so it had been housed temporarily in the house of Abinadab. David was leading the efforts to essentially “bring it home” as he was establishing his city.
It was a bit of a strategic move on David’s part - “showing himself to be faithful to God and the religious traditions of the people he now ruled.” (Kathryn Matthews, ucc.org)
He was bringing God into the center of the community,
….and so he danced.
David, with his long sordid history of ups and downs in life, has brought the representation of God to the center of the community and the result is a physical expression of celebration.
We don’t have an ark of God now. Our altar table is maybe the closest thing, but not really because it’s only ours...not all of God’s people. Also, we know that God’s divine spirit is everywhere, no matter if we’re in Virginia or Belgium, the sanctuary or the Community Center.
However this snippet of David’s life is a great example of how Scripture will not always directly and explicitly apply to our lives, because we won’t ever find ourselves moving an ark of God. We won’t ever be looking for strict instructions on how to move the ark of God from one town to another.
So, we have to ask what can we learn from this passage?
Even though we will not need to move the ark of God, we absolutely find ourselves in need of bringing God to the center of our community.
We need God’s presence at the center of our individual lives
We need God’s presence at the center of our home lives
We need God’s presence at the center of our church lives
We need God’s presence at the center of our wider community & global lives
Losing focus on God’s pure love in any one of those places causes distrust, causes brokenness, causes abuse, causes harm.
I’m not going to make a case for dancing being the cause of God being brought to the center of community, though, some of you may like that. However, ponder with me the correlation between David’s dancing and God’s presence..
Physical dancing has its benefits…
...it releases endorphins into our bodies, which helps our brains to function more clearly and relieve stress
...it can connect us one person to another, literally requiring interaction with another human being
...it is a way of expressing what we feel on the inside, whether that is joy, happiness, or sorrow
I am thinking that these three things were vital for David as he led the ark of God into its new home.
...he likely had some stress that needed to be released
...he had to connect with people to coordinate the move of the ark
...he expressed his joy of bringing the ark “home” and he was probably expressing some excitement to be the leader of the people
Physical dancing is a great metaphor and visual representation of what we do in this life to do the work of bringing God to center.
….we use our energies to connect with one another, work with one another, in order that we can express the love that God’s Divine presence brings into our lives.
Richard Rohr, a theologian and Franciscan friar, has a book entitled “The Divine Dance.” It is a great theological commentary and reflection on how God - the Creator, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit - dances. He speaks about the movement between and among these three parts of God that we worship...that it is a constant interaction, pulling/pushing/moving forward.
We need to dance well.
Sometimes the dancing is beautiful, whether it is expressing joy or sorrow, and is a fluid movement, often taking the other person into consideration.
Sometimes the dancing is clearly a dress rehearsal. People are literally stepping on each other’s toes and missing cues. The important thing, though, is to keep rehearsing, right? Keep rehearsing, but try different steps next time. (Remember….Definition of insanity: doing the same thing but expecting different results.)
As you go through this week, in the words of Lee Ann Womack, I hope you dance. I do hope you dance physically - mainly because it’s fun and it’s good for your body. Even if it’s just a little head bop or booty wiggle.
And I especially hope you dance in life. David sets a great example of dancing God into the center of a community.
I do truly believe that is where and how God is brought to the center.
It’s when we struggle with another person and find a way to work it out
It’s when we put someone else’s needs before our own
It’s when we reach out to the individual who has been pushed to the edge of society
It’s when we decide to not judge a person whose way of living is different than our own
It’s when we offer kind words or a hug to a friend who is hurting
It is in those moments that we dance, and God is brought to the center.
I hope you dance.
Scripture: 2 Samuel 6:1-5,12b-19