As I was pulling out of Panera Bread yesterday when I noticed a sign on one of the empty storefronts advertizing one of the local dance studios . It reminded of how much I miss "after-football-game" dances , and the fact that most of us do not dance anymore. I wonder why.
Growing up, I went with my parents to square-dances on several Friday nights. They loved to dance, and would go the local American Legion Building with a covered dish in hand and dance. Of course, there were those other times: it was dancing the waltz, the two step, the rumba and, the fox-trot, jitter bug and Charleston. At times, I thought my brain would explode listening to those old country-western tunes or what I called "old folks music" when they danced to the Lawrence Welk Show. However, I even learned "folk dances" in our church youth group as a young teenager. This was not a popular thing to do in the days of “the swim”, “the monkey”, “the mash potato” , “the twist.” ,and then into the age of the hard-rock music of Woodstock, and into the early 1970's. While it seems us boomers have lost our passion for dancing, recent movies and stories have begun, I hope, to bring dancing back.
I am sure some of you are saying dancing continues to happen, just look at all the recent publicity of starlets dancing the night away in New York and Las Vegas. Or, what about the recent television phenomenon “Dancing With the Stars?” That is true. However, dancing in these settings seems to be reserved only for the rich and famous. Also, look at the style of dancing being publicized. Dancing in these venues is the “bump and grind” that exhibits something different than the mutual cooperation and respect it takes to dance a flowing waltz. I am amazed in these days when women are gaining more and more equality that this submissive, male dominant form of dancing is so popular with the younger crowd. I often wish I had grown up in the day when the more graceful forms of dancing were popular like the waltz, and many others.
The dancing I am talking about is the dance that celebrates life and relationships. In the rock ‘n roll era, while we would dance in wild, often bizarre fashion, it went a long way if a guy could do a decent “slow dance.” In earlier generations the waltz and two step were basic dances, but knowing the Charleston brought dancing to another level of celebration and excitement. Dancing has always been about celebrating life and our relationships, and it has been an important ingredient in faith.
Somewhere along the line, though, we lost this aspect of our faith. The Psalmist calls us to celebrate God with dancing and singing. One of Jesus’ first miracles happened at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). Have you ever been to a Jewish wedding reception? I can assure you that there was dancing. I hope Jesus danced. Dancing is a way for us to celebrate the good gifts God has given to us.
A few years ago, Lee Ann Womack released a song entitled “I Hope You Dance.” A good friend gave this song to me. The first stanza of this song reads,
“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger.
May you never take one single breath for granted.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes, I hope another opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance.
And, when you get the choice to sit it out or dance;
I hope you dance … I hope you dance.”
As we begin a new year, I hope you dance…. with faith and with life. I would like to leave you with some verses from 'The Bible" that refer to dancing. It it mentioned in one form or another over 25 times in "The Bible", but here are a few closing verses and phrases. "Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre (Psalm 149:1-3). "Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging symbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150)" We are reminded in other places in the Old Testament that "there is a time to mourn and a time to dance". And we are reminded that "David danced before the Lord".
I pray that before the year is over you have a chance to dance in praise before the Lord (at least in your heart).