EBWU Conference - Lisbon, Portugal - 10-13 October 2024


Let There be Dance

Biblical thoughts about dance

At the preview of the performance Claudio Monteverdi Dance of the unmerciful ladies (Il ballo delle ingrate), at the moment when the six unmerciful ladies came out of the underworld, they involve the audience in their dancing storm. This is the human, let there be something upholding him/her from the daily routine: let there be dance. In our ecumenical prayer week’s program for January 2017, we read the following: “the sky opens and we are dancing for the tunes of eternity”.

The strength of light and darkness call us for a dance. We may make a choice still. Before we reflect on our Bible passage let us look around in the world. In a Japanese myth they enticed the goddess of the Sun out of her cave with dancing and let the light be in the world. At the entrance of the cave of Dionysus virgins circle round in their dance.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, Sunni poet told the following: “Both light and shadow are the Dance of Love. Love has no cause, it is the astrolabe of God's secrets.” The dance makes free the divine in the human.

In France at Medieval times it became fashionable to describe the Dance of Death, no matter if you born to be rich or poor, or you would like or not, Death comes for you to take you for a dance. ‘Danse Macabre’

Anyway the dance lifts you up to a different level, it takes you out from the ordinary situation. The steps may pick you up, or take you down. There was dancing everywhere to the goddess Artemis in Ephesus, as it was said, ‘where there was no dance to the great Artemis the anti virgins, women stepped down to the strength of the Earth’. The ‘dance’ in the Holy Scripture slopes toward the Sky.

In the Old Testament we read very often about the dance. The world ‘mahol’ expresses the joy and the dance. Crossing the Red Sea prophetess Miriam, sister of Aaron, danced with the women with tambourines in their hands. (Exodus 15, 20.21)

In the book of Judges (11, 29-40) daughter of Jephthah came out to meet her father dancing. In Ecclesiastes 3, 4 we read “a time to mourn and a time to dance”.

In 2Samuel 6, 14. David danced before the Lord as they brought the Ark to Jerusalem, not minding that his wife, Michal despised him.

Further more we may count Jacob’s struggle with God in the dance categories. They wrestled, the heavenly and worldly. It was a stony dance to be a blessing. And the victory was his, the Lord let the man - being thirsty for God - win. And we saw it on the cross, too.

And let us see now the verses from the Psalm 87 verses 6,7. These verses are in front of us as like a Gate in worldwide vision:
“The LORD records as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.” Selah
Singers and dancers alike say,
“All my springs are in you.”

Zion appears as a vision, like our homeland; so huge, fascinating pictures appear here from our earthly life, feasting and dancing. All topics that we are just stuttering about, Jesus talks in parables. And right now we are at the New Testament. Let us see the parable of the lost son and a glance on an insignificant moment: “When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing”. (Luk 15,25): “Symphonias kai khoron” - our Lord receives in such a way all his children. The Lord uses a picture from daily life, in this way we may understand better the joy and happiness of our salvation. Symphony - well known word, consonance, harmony, this is what we are looking for.

One of my colleagues told once, that Jesus Christ’s meeting with Mary Magdalene after the resurrection was like a tango, when Jesus tells her who he is, she wants to touch him, but he didn't allow it telling her “Touch me not” (John 20,17-ASV) ‘Noli me tangere’. Coming closer, approaching, roll away, wish to touch, this is the motive of the tango, too, maybe it’s named by the Latin phrase. At the meeting with the two angels and the Resurrected, first doubtfulness, then full with inexpressible joy. We are the same, we don't perceive that behind us are the two angels and in front of us is the Resurrected One! Our dance is so vague between the two Heavenly Appearances. Our spiritual surroundings are the same. We have no less at this age of the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 11, 17 there is the question: “and say, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance;…” God called his people through the words of the prophets for the Salvation, and then in Christ himself did the same but only a few listened to his calling. He calls us for dancing each day, let there be dance. Dancing is so difficult for our old self being. Let me quote the verse Psalm 42,7 (ASV) - “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterfalls: All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” parallel with the Psalm 87,7: “They that sing as well as they that dance shall say, All my fountains are in thee.”

The Hebrew word ‘tehom’ means cascade, whirl, deepness. By the Jews hermeneutics God’s name are these, Cascade, Whirl, Deepness, He calls cascade, whirl, deepness. All our fountains come from Him. The calling voice will be one with the voice of the falling water. This is how our painful being can join to the main Good, who gives salvation to us.

If we would like to finish our meeting with dance it can be embarrassing. To the dance we need lightness, to the dance with our Lord we need Faith! Waiting to reach our spiritual homeland we need Faith, and we may sing it round the dance all our “fountains are in thee”.

Sermon written by Timea Perge, Reformed Church Pastor, Hungary