Jesus is Risen!-The Dance Goes On!
Palm Sunday – Jesus is Risen! – The Dance Goes On!!”
Play Hymn: #261 “Lord of the Dance” on my harmonica.
Okay. Okay. I need a lot more practice with my harmonica. However, I love that song and it goes so well with what we are going to be talking about over the next couple of weeks.
“12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
Do any of y’all remember middle school dances? (pause) I do. I remember how awkward they were for anyone not brave enough to get out there on the dance floor – which was pretty much everybody. The boys stood on one side of the room. The girls stood on the other side of the room. The middle of the gym was like no mans land between the Germans and the British during World War I. Anyone who crossed into that space was likely to find themselves dead; or at least that’s what we thought. When you think about it, if this social distancing thing had come about when we were all in middle school a lot of us would be professionals, and the curve would have been hammered two weeks ago.
As I think about Jesus’ resurrection, I find myself thinking about David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant. (pause) Does that sound odd? (pause) Well, work with me here and I’ll show you how it all comes together.
Bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem had not been an easy picnic. They had tried to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem about three months earlier. (pause) It did not go well. At one point the oxen pulling the Ark stumbled. The Ark looked as though it was going to shift and maybe even fall off the cart. One of the priests walking with the Ark reached out and touched the Ark to steady it. God was not pleased so God struck the priest dead, there on the spot. After this David sent the ark to stay in the household of Obed-Edom. While the Ark was there the man’s household prospered. After three months word came to David of all the good the Lord had brought to this man’s house so David felt it was the right time to bring the Ark into the city of Jerusalem.
David brought the Ark into Jerusalem with sacrifices, music and dancing before the Ark of the Covenant. This was no mere dance of celebration like you see when an NFL team wins the National Championship, or when a baseball team wins the World Series or when hockey team wins the Stanly Cup. This was worship, and David was worshipping the Lord with all of his heart, with all of his soul and with all of his might. Just like at a middle school dance – not everyone was so happy to see David dancing like this. David’s first wife, the daughter of David’s enemy Saul accused David of parading himself in a disgraceful manner to get the attention of the servant girls. David explains to his first wife if you think this is disgraceful, just wait till you see what I do next.
During this Covid-19 pandemic I know there are some people who are trying to follow the social distancing protocols, and there are some who are not really following the protocols at all. I know there are some who are following the protocols who are becoming increasingly frustrated with those who aren’t. I am afraid the frustration over the pandemic is causing friction in a number of places. Much the same way the Jews groaned in the Psalms;
“By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows[a] there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!”
There are many who are growing frustrated with those who are flouting the rules and doing what they want at the expense of others. Many others are left wondering how are we supposed to worship God sheltered behind closed doors, locked windows, and wearing face masks and gloves?
These are great questions and there are a couple of things we can learn from this passage about David and from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First, when God struck down the priest for touching the Ark of the Covenant, David put the Ark in a safe place and took some time to figure out what just happened and waited to make sure it was safe before returning to his plan to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. That’s what all of this social distancing is really all about. We are taking the time to stay home and flatten the curve of infections to give our hospitals a fighting chance to serve their patients. By doing this we look out for one another and look out for ourselves. We also give the researchers a chance to find a vaccine or cure for Covid-19.
In the meantime, we have to figure out how do we move on. The Gospel has been around for 2000 years. God has actively been at work in Humanity for at least – at least 6000 years. It begs the question, how has God been at work in and through the people of God when famines, and plagues surfaced on the globe at that time? When there was a famine in Palestine, Jacob’s family moved to Egypt. God blessed the Egyptian people with a wise overseer in Joseph who managed the famine and drought in that land. In the first century when Paul left Jerusalem to start churches, he encouraged them to take up a collection for those living in Jerusalem during a famine. These new converts to the faith of Jesus Christ answered the call and gave to the mission.
You see my brothers and sisters, all of Christian ministry is like a dance. Through the Bible we learn the steps. We learn about who God is and the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. We hear the call to love God and to love our neighbor. When life changes, the dance goes on. When adversity strikes the dance goes on. Just because a pandemic has the world in the clutches of fear it does not mean the dance stops. The dance goes on. It’s just that the music has changed; and while it may take some time to adjust to the new tempo, and the circumstances around us the upward call of God in Jesus Christ is the same. The work of being the hands and feet of Christ to a people in need is just as important today as it was back then. The question for all of us is will we dance out of love for God and love for neighbor, will we share peace and grace, or will we selfishly do what we want and sit on the side of the room where fear keeps us from being Christ’s hands and feet?
Look up the words to the song, “Lord of the Dance;” number 261 in the Methodist Hymnal. Believe me my sisters and brothers. No matter where you are in life. No matter what stage of life you face. The dance goes on.
1 I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth.
At Bethlehem I had my birth.
Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.
2 I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
but they would not dance and they would not follow me;
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
they came to me and the dance went on. (Refrain)
3 I danced on the sabbath when I cured the lame,
the holy people said it was a shame;
they whipped and they stripped and they hung me high;
and they left me there on a cross to die. (Refrain)
4 I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black;
it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back;
they buried my body and they thought I’d gone,
but I am the dance and I still go on. (Refrain)
5 They cut me down and I leapt up high,
I am the life that’ll never, never die;
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. (Refrain)
Let’s have our closing benediction together.
As it was in the beginning
It is now and ever shall be
World without end