"Dancing Out Loud"
"Dancing Out Loud"
Success is measured in so many ways. Some measure by their grades. Others by their income levels. Pastors have all kinds of ways of measuring success—this number baptized, this number joined the church, this number of people claimed Jesus as their personal savior. Ah, it’s all chaff.
This week, I believe I was a remarkable, incredible pastoral success, worthy of all laud praise and honor because I helped lead a very shy, introverted white man, to let loose on the dance floor.
Oh, yea! Mmmhmmm… Yes I did.
He shook and he shimmied and he had the widest smile on his face.
And, just in case you were wondering, my clothes were on!
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away all judgments against you.
I was at a conference for pastors and lay people who work to authorize would-be ministers. That is, they make sure those who apply for the ministry are prepared for the ministry. I was there as a wellness coach to care for those who do the work.
Coaching is a technique which allows me to work with the Holy Spirit and the abundant love God has placed in my heart for God’s people. I met this particular man at the table where we had discussion questions. After the evening session, I stood near the coaches table, making myself available, since no one had signed up. He came up to the table and said…”well, I’ll give it a try.”
That’s about all I can tell you. One of the tenants of coaching is we are like Vegas…what is shared there stays there. But, I can say, he worked in the land of the Puritans, and I would not have been one I would have thought would have danced.
Think about what keeps people from dancing. We don’t dance because we are filled with judgments about ourselves. I don’t look good enough. I can’t do that move. Or, my go to, I don’t want to show off.
You know what it is to be judged, don’t you? And, it doesn’t feel good. It feels heavy and scary, like the waiting when your Mom said, “just wait until your Dad gets home.” Or waiting for the test to be handed back which you already know you failed.
Failure, shame, blame…fear, run, hide!
Judgment keeps us frozen in a corner hoping we won’t be seen.
When that happens the child like part of ourselves stops living. That’s sad because there is power in the child that lives in you!
Think about children—more than anything they want to be seen. “Look at me!” they shout again and again. A two year old will turn their parent’s head, physically turn their head, to make sure they are looking at them. The child part of you is unafraid. The child part of you will adventure on. The child part of you don’t care if he gets dirty, if it means uncovering some kind of treasure.
God coming to us as a child allows us to see again the child in us that wants to live.
Thus…when I saw the man on the dance floor, I couldn’t help but go over and cheer him on…such was my joy! I had given the child room to dance!
And, I don’t care how many people Olsten has in his congregation this week. I did better. My man danced!
God coming to us as a child allows us to see again the child in us that wants to live!
The Lord has taken away the judgments. That’s what scripture says. Not me, scripture, verse 15, “The Lord has taken away the judgements against you.”
There is no worse enemy than the judgments you put on yourself. Hell, I can see it in your body language when you are carrying that load. I should warn you; I am in the change of life. It gives me power to see. I’ve always been intuitive, been able to feel another’s heart. But now I have Superman’s xray vision. So, yes, I can see when you are beating yourself up. What is depression…except blame turned inward; blame turned to shame. Beat yourself up and you will lose the child part in you that wants to explore, learn, reach, be touched, turn the head of the loving parent to look upon you!
Hear these words to the inner most parts of your being: The Lord has taken away the judgments against you.
Scripture calls out the to “daughter Zion” and “daughter Jerusalem” because God calls out to the child who hid from Him. For if there was a group who felt shame, it certainly was the people of Jerusalem. The prophets made sure they knew they were to blame for the enemy coming, destroying their temples, and the exile from their land. It was their fault they no longer had farms and no longer had a place to worship and no longer had a home. It was their fault that God no longer loved them.
I don’t like prophets. When someone tells me they are giving a prophetic word, I hear my phone ringing. Seriously, I don’t need to be told again and again that I’m bad, a destroyer of planet earth, a hater, one who doesn’t follow Jesus because I don’t do this or that to bring about a just world. It is like I’m being compared to Godzilla again and again.
These days, I feel bad every time I use a straw. Look, I’ll use paper straws or sippy cups or whatever you want…just make sure I can still indulge in my 99 cent Big Gulp and still believe God loves me.
We need Zephaniah’s word as much today as did the exiles of Jerusalem. Far from their temples, far from the homes, far from the land of their faith…the word is given:
The Lord your God is in your midst.
And, lo and behold, God isn’t coming with the belt nor handing you a paper with a big fat “F.” Big fat “F”…I know, now, that means a whole lot more than a grade on a test…there are people who, every time they fill out an employment application, face the big fat Felony F.
No…God doesn’t see you that way! God does not see you as a failure or fraud or Godzilla
Did you catch it when I read scripture? Did I emphasize it well enough?
There’s that part about how God is a warrior who gives victory. That’s cool. Probably worth a sermon. But today I’m drawn to what comes next.
What come next is what I want to remember right before I go to bed…not God in armor but God…
Rejoicing over me with gladness, renewing me in his love, exulting over me with loud singing!
Sing for me… oh God… Sing of me!
God is singing, exulting over me!
It’s like a daddy who jumps out of his chair to swoop up his little girl and spin her around and around and around until they both fall to the floor, laughing together, delighting in each other.
God, the creator of the universe, is singing over me…mid aged woman, who wakes up coughing in the morning, and whose inattention has made it so we can no longer use any glass glasses. Even so, God is exulting over me!
What love song would God sing of you?
Dang it; you don’t find the words of God’s love in the Psalms, those love letters of David and the community of faith. You find them…in the very midst of those from whom I want to run…
It is the Prophet Isaiah who writes…”Let me sing for my beloved a love song….”
Isaiah 40: 9
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
Lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not;
Say to the cities of Judah
“Behold your God.”
Jeremiah 31: 3…”I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
And Ezekiel’s land of dry bones…
“I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel…And I will put my Spirit within you and you shall live!”
When you are in the thick of self judgement, remember it is in that exact place that, if you listen with faith, you can hear God singing, exulting, over you. Yes, you.
God doesn’t care what has been done in the past. God doesn’t care what grades you have received. God doesn’t care if you use straws.
God is exulting over you.
So…stand a little taller. Walk with a swagger. Speak a little louder.
God really does love you!
Here’s my mission from God: I’m not going to stop loving you with all the love God has given me to love with…until the child in you finds its way to dance.
14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. 16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18as on a day of festival./
I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. 19I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth/
20At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.