One time, back in the day when dancing was considered taboo, a Methodist bishop was asked, “Can Methodists dance?” He thought for a moment and said, “Well, some can, and some can’t.” Dancing is certainly biblical. King David danced in a parade as the Ark of God was brought to the city of Jerusalem. King David created the first line dance. They would take a step, then David danced. Another step and David danced some more. This went on until they arrived in Jerusalem. Man, talk about Extreme Aerobics! The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that “There is a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Our text for today, has something to say about dancing. The author, David, tells us his personal story. It is a personal that moves from proud self-sufficiency to lonely distance from God and then ends up on such a joyful note that he feels like dancing. Look at Psalm 30
1 I will exalt You, Lord, for You rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You restored my health. 3 You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. 4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise His Holy Name. 5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. 6 When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!” 7 Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain. Then You turned away from me, and I was shattered. 8 I cried out to You, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, 9 “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise You? Can it tell of Your faithfulness? 10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.” 11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, 12 that I might sing praises to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!
In the first 6 verses David confesses his proud self-sufficiency. When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!” In other words, David felt safe and secure in what he had earned and built with his own hands. Haven’t we all felt like that at times, or I am the only one? We’re doing really well, acquiring some stuff, making a good salary, with some insurance. Our security becomes virtually independent of God. That is the very point when we get into trouble. Adversity is not the greatest enemy of faith. Prosperity is the greatest enemy of faith.
If you can remember only 1 thing, this is it: God Loves To Watch Us Dance!
David drifts from God’s presence because he thinks he’s in charge. Then Boom, it hits him that God isn’t there anymore. “You turned away from me, and I was shattered.” Have you ever felt the absence of God? Being confident and comfortable in your own strength and your accomplishments is to be standing on thin ice. When you rely on yourself or anyone other than God, eventually like David, you become shattered—and there is collateral damage. When our lives become shattered we hurt and wound others.
Then David takes us to another level. He tries to bargain with God. David says to God (this is another Burbank paraphrase; one day I will have my own paraphrase; look for it on the shelves of your local bookstore) “If I die you will lose a good advertiser. You better look out for me because that will be good business for you.” Have you ever tried to bargain with God? It sounds like this: “Lord, if you’ll just fix our marriage, I’ll give 10% of our income to the church. Lord, if you’ll get my teenager on the straight and narrow, we will be there every time the church doors are open. Lord, if you’ll get us out of financial trouble, I’ll volunteer for anything.” But He doesn’t bargain with us. God doesn’t play “Deal Or No Deal.” His righteousness is not negotiable.
But David comes to his senses. He simply throws himself on the mercy of God. “Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord!” In other words: no excuses, no deals, no bargains; just a humble David bowing before the powerful, gracious God. Are you aware that most of us are not fair with God?
For the most part we are blind to many of God’s presence and His ways. We take the good things for granted, assuming we deserve them. The health we have, the fact that we almost never worry about the necessities of life. Someone cared enough to lead us to Jesus. We gather here in church without the slightest fear that the government is taking our names and might harass us because we were here. Every Day Brings Hundreds Of Blessings That We Take For Granted. But We Give God Plenty Of Credit When Problems Come Our Way: like a child’s developmental problems, a failed marriage, cancer, the loss of a job, or other hardships.
There is a bird in Europe called the chaffinch. It’s about the size of a robin. It has a beautiful song, and people keep these birds in their homes to hear them sing. But the chaffinch has a peculiar characteristic—it can forget how to sing. If it does not learn how to sing again, it becomes depressed and dies. There is only one way for it to relearn. The bird must be taken back into the woods where the wild chaffinches sing.
Followers of Jesus sometime forget how to dance. It is in such times as these that we need to gather with other Followers who still dance with God. We let Satan tell us the lie, that when we don’t feel like dancing we should stay away from worship, stay away from God’s people. But the exact opposite is true: It’s WHEN we forget how to dance that we need the most what can only be found in the fellowship of the body of Christ.
And it is in those times we can’t dance that we need what the Sacrament of Holy Communion gives us. During Holy Communion, God mysteriously re-teaches us chaffinches how to sing and dance. Allow me to show you 3 reasons how Communion teaches us how to dance again:
We Dance Because We Remember!
We remember that the Cross is deeply rooted in the mercy, grace and love of the Father. His grace isn’t limited to just once in a lifetime experience. We remember that even if the Tennessee River runs dry, God’s love endures forever. We remember that the Father’s arms are always open, always ready for us. God never says to us, “Sorry, I don’t have time for you right now.” Communion helps us remember that God is always there, always ready, always with open arms to receive us. Do you want to try to exhaust the supply of God’s grace? Take a bucket, go to the ocean and try to empty it. You will empty the ocean long before grace runs dry. If He loves us enough to die for us, He also loves us enough to live for us, through us and in us. We dance because we remember God’s grace.
We Dance Because We Are Reclaimed!
In this Holy Meal, we the sinful, are once again cleansed and reclaimed as God’s chosen possession, His people. We are made for a relationship of love and intimacy with the Father. We have been bought and brought into the relationship because of the sacrifice of Jesus. As we receive these powerful symbols of bread and wine, God is whispering to us: “You are my child. You are the joy of my heart. With my help you are becoming once again, a reflection of my image.” This Holy Meal is our assurance of God’s acceptance and His promises to us and for us. We are brought out of our darkness and into His light. We no longer belong to Satan, we belong to God—and he dares and delights in calling us His children. We dance because He has reclaimed us.
We Dance Because We Are Revived!
When your proud arrogance shatters your life, God makes you whole again. When your self-righteousness leaves you hollow and empty, God makes you holy and restores your life. Even when you desert God for any reason, God does not desert you. No situation is ever so bleak that God cannot redeem it. God specializes in releasing prisoners and delivering captives.
When David realized the width and depth and height of God’s grace, he realized this glorious fact: Even When God Seems Absent, He Is Powerfully Present. And then David began to dance. Dancing alone, dancing with your selfish desires, dancing with smugness is sad and tragic. But the Good News this morning is that God renews us, revives us, rekindles the flame of His love, the Fire of the Holy Spirit. We dance because we are Revived!
When you consider what God has already done, you will be convinced that He can do it again. And He will make you feel like dancing!
You got the better of me
Just snap your fingers and I’m walking
Like a dog hanging on your lead
I’m in a spin, you know
Shaking on a string, you know
You make me feel like dancing, I’m gonna dance the night away
You make feel like dancing
I feel like dancing, dancing (whoo, whoo!)
Dance the night away (yeah!)
I feel like dancing (whoo!) dancing, aah!
I ain’t feeling tired, no, no, no, no, no
Just hold me tight and leave on the light
‘Cause I don’t want to go home
You put a spell on me
I’m right where you want me to be