Whenever I read the 2 Samuel passage about David dancing as the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the city, I hear an old Tom Franzak song playing in my head. In the song, “David Danced,” Franzak expresses a desire to “dance like David danced.” Between the Bible passage and the song, I imagine David dancing with utter abandon, in sheer joy before God (and everyone else who might have been looking). And, I don’t blame Franzak for wanting to dance like David danced. I want to do that, too. However, I have very little ability to dance.
Imagine the joy that sets you free from every inhibition you might have about dancing, nearly naked, in front of a crowd. That joy comes for God and the dance is meant to honor God in praise. David did just that. Of course, not everyone was delighted. Michal, Saul’s daughter, hated David “in her heart” after watching him dance. I’m betting she wasn’t the only one. There is something within us that rejects (fears?) such joy, passion, love.
What might it take for us to have this kind of passion for God, this kind of love for Jesus? What might it take for the joy of our faith to be so public that some people actually hate us for it? I know it sounds foolish to invite hatred of any kind. Yet, if I’m going to be hated, I’d really like to be hated for the joy of living in the Spirit. This kind of joy could change the world.
With all the fear and hatred that keeps blood flowing in our streets, wouldn’t it be nice to see joy dancing more freely than fear? What could spark that kind of passion in us today? We aren’t going to see the Ark of the Covenant being processed down the street to its new tent. In what ways do we encounter God’s presence that ignite passionate joy, joy so intense that it cannot be contained?
Once, when I was in seminary, I went to a dance and I decided that I didn’t care what anyone thought. That night I danced. I let myself move to the music without caring what others thought and it was fun. I felt free while I was dancing in ways that I hadn’t before or since. People told me that I danced well and several asked if they could dance with me. It was a weird night and completely out of character for me. Yet, I remember it with joy and wonder if I felt a little of what David felt.
Today I find myself thinking about passion and joy that sets me free. I experience it most frequently when preaching. Other times when presenting on topics related to faith and mental health, especially suicide prevention, I feel empowered and liberated from concern about what other people might think. I tend to dance with words rather than my body. It’s the same tune, though. It’s the melody of God’s Love that guides my words. And, you know, some people hate me for what I say and do in Christ’s name. I’m okay with that. It’s better than trying to contain the joy, the passion. It’s better than not dancing at all.
What makes you dance with passion and joy for the sheer love of God? Pursue that. Do it as often as you can. And if some people hate you or reject you, then know you are in good company. Remember, also, that David wasn’t perfect. He stumbled in his dance quite often. God forgave him when he faltered. God forgives us for our miss-steps as well. When we acknowledge our failures, we open ourselves to forgiveness and the ability to repair what is broken, quite possibly making room for another to dance like David danced before the Lord.
RCL – July 11 – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – Year B