I grew up in a non-dancing house. My mother had loved to dance, in fact she was often the last one off the dance floor.
But after she became a Christian, she did a complete 180 and somehow believed that dancing was a terrible and wretched sin.
As I was growing up I came to and understanding that dancing was right up there with robbing a bank, murder and, grand larceny.
We grew up within shouting distance of a dance hall and my mother forbade us to go near that dance hall. I think she believed that the devil was playing the music and we just couldn’t dance with the devil.
So for many years I never even tiptoed onto a dance floor for fear my mother would move me on to the next life.
I had no desire at all to dance, until I met Jaye J. I had this feeling that she loved to dance…right after she told me.
So after our first date I invited her to join me for dinner and dance lessons at 15 South at St Armands Circle in Sarasota.
I don’t know what I was thinking because at the time I was probably the worse dancer on the planet. But I knew she loved to dance and I was going to take the plunge.
So after dinner we made our way up the stairs and took an hour’s worth of dance lessons. I was utterly horrible.
After the lessons, a band started to play music and we were sitting at a table when Jaye J. looked at me with those eyes, the eyes that say “if you want to spend the next 50 years with me you’d better ask your date to dance” eyes So I did.
It was wonderful. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but it didn’t matter. The closeness, the intimacy, the trust and, I guess, abandon was something I had never experienced before.
I loved dancing with her that night. Obviously, I will never forget that evening and by the way, I have vastly improved my dancing skills.
This sermon is about dancing. We continue our sermon series on the Life of King David, a man after God’s own heart.
In our lesson this morning, we find David dancing before God as he brings the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem.
Saul is now dead and David has now become the King of Judah and Israel. He is the one to bring the north and south together as a united people.
David has every reason to celebrate and dance but the people of the old tradition are not easily persuaded by these new changes.
So David creatively and daringly chooses the people’s most precious ancient symbol, the Ark of God as a vehicle to be coronated the new King.
The symbolism was powerful. The Ark of the Covenant was more than a prop from an Indiana Jones movie. It was for Israel, the tangible presence of God.
It contained the stone tablets on which were written the 10 commandments. At one point, the Philistines had scored a major coup when they stole the Ark.
The Philistines put the Ark in their Temple next to their god, Dagon and the idol kept falling over in front of the Ark.
They would prop it up again and the idol would fall again.
So the Philistines decided that a new location might be better for the Ark so they took it to the city of Gath. Bad move.
As soon as the Ark arrived in Gath, all the citizens were afflicted with tumors. So the Philistines then took the Ark to the city of Ekron and death filled that city with panic.
Finally, the Philistines had had enough and sent the Ark back to Israel on a cart pulled by milk cows. And somehow it was hid away in Israel for the next 80 years.
And one of David’s first acts was to return the Ark to its rightful place at the center of Israel in Jerusalem.
David sent 30,000 of his troops to retrieve it. But they made a big mistake. God had given them specific instructions on how the Ark was to be transported.
It was to be carried by the priests with special poles.
But the men put the Ark on a new cart and off they went singing along the way. But at one point the oxen stumbled and the Ark began to slide off the cart.
It was then that a man named Uzzah reached out his hand to stop it from sliding. Uzzah was struck down immediately.
David became so angry with God for killing one of his men that he decided to leave the Ark behind at a place called Obed-Edom.
Now, why was Uzzah killed? Good question. If we go back to the Book of Numbers, there was a clear warning that no one was allowed to touch a holy object or they would die.
For three months the Ark stayed in Obed-Edom and while it was there, the Scriptures tell us that the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all the people.
When David got wind that God was blessing Obed-Edom, he made a beeline to the town to bring it home.
He knew having it in Jerusalem was the key to Israel’s success.
So as the procession moved into the city, verse 14 tells us that David danced before the Lord with all his might.
Now, I don’t know if David had been to the Moses Murray School of Dance but he was cutting a rug because he was filled with joy.
But as he lets loose with his own version of Dancing with the Stars, his wife, Mick-kale, becomes very upset with his actions.
She sees the King leaping and dancing in front of some younger women and she is not happy. The Hebrew word for dance here is the word, m’karker which means to spin or whirl.
As you know, dancing has been somewhat controversial in some churches over the last 50 years. There are some conservative churches who still don’t believe in dancing.
When I was at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary years ago, someone asked the Professor this theological question. He said, “Can Christians dance?”
The professor said, “Some can and some can’t!” He was sure right about that.
As we take an indepth look at the issue of dancing in this passage, I find the conflicting emotions of David and Mick-kale to be paradoxes within our text.
For in reality, there is both joy and sorrow, laughter and tears and fear and courage. As we attempt to dance, let me share with you three movements in this dance.
The first movement is this: From holding on to letting go.
When you first learn to dance and grasp the basic steps, it makes a lot of sense to hold on and hold on tight because you have no idea where you are supposed to go.
But how do we know when to let go? In order to be a more fluid dancer, we must relax and go with the music.
Holding on too tightly only constricts the movement. Mick-kale, we are told in First Samuel, loved David very much.
When Mick-kale’s father, King Saul, grows jealous of David, Mick-kale, like her brother Jonathan, steps in and saves David’s life.
But somehow, she managed to hold on to the past, the former glory of her father’s legacy and she found it difficult to let go and dance.
David brought a new style of leadership. Kings didn’t normally dance in front of the peasants. But here was David, dancing his heart out in worship to God.
And I’m sure Mick-kale wondered if this was what Kings were supposed to be doing. But change can be very difficult for any of us.
Our willingness to change can be compared to the man who loved strawberries. Every year without exception, he would travel to the state fair to his old familiar strawberry booth.
The booth would boast all you can eat strawberries for 99 cents including strawberry shortcake, strawberry preserves and strawberry ice cream.
But this year without the extra rain, the man was getting worried that the old familiar booth would not be there.
Anxious and stressed, the man arose early and headed to the state festival. To his great relief he spotted his old familiar strawberry booth.
As he approached it, he noted a small asterisk on the word strawberry.
It said, “This year, prunes will be substituted for strawberries. It’s kind of like coming to church, going to your favorite pew and finding someone else sitting there.
Change is difficult but if we are to connect with God we need to learn to let go as we dance.
The second dance movement is this: From dancing with our steps to being led by God’s steps.
People often discover in dancing that when both parties want to lead, they find themselves bumping into each other. Somebody has to lead.
The second movement is complex and filled with paradox. So often in life what seems perfect on the outside is filled with brokenness and imperfection on the inside.
What may seem to be a devastating loss, a bruising of one’s ego becomes yet another gift to a possibility that may never have come our way
had we gotten what we wished for or held on to what we are used to and the way we do things. Being open to change or failure allows God back into the picture.
And moving from following our own steps to being led by God’s steps we discover real growth, insight and new hopes and dreams.
After we return to God, we experience the blessing of a gracious, almighty and merciful God who is willing to give each of us, women, men and children, a reason to dance.
The third movement is this: From observing the dance to joining in. The third movement touches the very core of our being.
We may be able to convince ourselves that we have let go and are being led by God.
Even if we could muster up enough courage to dance, we find we cannot always, on our own, overcome the fear of taking the first step.
Or the vulnerability of waiting to be asked to dance or the awkwardness of discovering our own two left feet.
Or the humility of knowing that in the hopes of being swept off our feet, we end up stumbling on each other’s toes.
Perhaps we all have a little of David and a bit of Mick-kale in each of us. David, given the opportunity, chooses to dance.
Mick-kale, sits on the sidelines, perhaps embarrassed, perhaps waiting for someone to invite her in. Though David dances and Mick-kale remains at a distance, it is God and God alone who keeps the dance alive.
And therein lies God’s amazing grace. If we know we can fail and know that someone greater than ourselves is leading the dance, we can dare to join in.
We can dare, knowing that God, whose outstretched hand, gently brings us on to the floor. We can then dare to join in the dance with a God who does not make us feel self conscious.
We can dare to join in the dance even when we are not quite sure where the next step will lead us. We can join in the dance assured that God will hold us up and sustain us even when our feeble knees will not.
Who knows what changes can happen if you join the dance even when your dancing alone with God.
In New York City, in the mid 19th century, there was a man named Jeremiah Calvin Lamphier.
Jeremiah decided to have a prayer meeting for businessmen on the 23rd of September 1857. The meeting was to last for one hour.
For the first half hour, he prayed alone. In the next half hour, another five people joined him. The next week there were 20 and the following week 40.
They then decided to have a daily prayer meeting. That soon went to a 100 and after 3 months to a 1000. This was the beginning of a great revival in America where many were transformed for Christ.
It all began with the prayers of one person who decided to dance with God.
Friends, are you willing to step out on to the dance floor with God? Are you ready to show some moves you never knew you had?
God is asking each of us this simple question. May I have this dance?
Well twinkletoes, what are you waiting for? Dance like there’s no tomorrow!! Amen.