Rev. George Miller
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12-19
“Dancing Through Life”
July 15, 2012
Before we start today’s message, I thought it would be fun to show a video clip that was sent by Bill and Ada Wright.
It features musical numbers from the 1940s, put to a popular song from the 70’s that has been circulating YouTube since 2010. It’s called “Rita Hayworth is Stayin’ Alive.”
There is no denying, regardless if you are young, old, black, white, male, female, straight or gay; that she was stunning and gorgeously confident.
Also, entertainers like Rita Hayworth and Hollywood musicals played an important part in keepin’ alive the spirits of many Americans during the Great Depression and 2nd World War.
Now, Let us pray...
As you see in the bulletin, the flowers today were given by me in memory of my Father, Herbert Allen Miller, who died 17 years ago.
17 years is a long time when you’re only 42, and I miss him so. The fact is, the older I get the more I wish he was here so we could sit back, talk and get to know one another all over again.
I’d tell him that I appreciate all the things I inherited from him.
For example, my Dad was a cop who loved his job not because it was something he did but because it was who he was.
Some people say you should never define yourself by your occupation, but I would say anyone who has worked as a cop would say otherwise; as would a teacher, a preacher, a farmer, a musician etc.
My father passed on his love for musicals, both Broadway and Hollywood. And my father taught me how to keep a beat.
It wasn’t something he did purposely, he simply drove with the radio on, window rolled down, hand on the car roof and he would tap along to the beat of the music.
I would watch him do this, and looking back now I realize now not only was he teaching me how to keep rhythm, but that music was something to be enjoyed and interacted with.
Dancing, like music, like food, is life. It can be used to socialize, to tell a story, to express joy or to overcome sadness.
And anyone, at any age, can dance. Little kids just learning to walk will bop along to a beat. Older folks will tap their fingers on the handlebars of their wheelchairs.
Life is a dance, and we were created by God to dance through it.
But it can be difficult to dance if no one is there to teach you the steps or to remind you of how they are done.
Kind of how I feel about not having my Dad around. It’s not easy to dance into the future when it seems like the past has been lost…
That’s one way to look at today’s reading.
King David seems to have it all: a successful career, wives, respect, and a mansion.
But he realizes it is not enough.
King David knows that he did not get to where he is all by himself; that it wasn’t just chance or hard work.
It was because of God.
God who knew him even when it seemed his own father did not. God who called him to be king and lead him through many battles.
Maybe King David is pious, maybe he’s politically savvy, but he’s smart enough to know that God, not he, is the center of it all.
In David’s day, before the Temple was constructed, the ark of the Lord was the ultimate symbol of God’s presence.
Inside the arc were things like the 10 Commandments and a pot containing manna from heaven.
The ark of the Lord not only symbolized God but all that God had done for them throughout their history.
The arc was there when God lead through them through wilderness. When they were fed manna from heaven and water from the rock.
When they crossed over the Jordan River and God allowed the waters to stop. When God led them in victory over Jericho and the walls came a tumblin’ down
The ark was there when they entered into the Promised Land, their new home flowing with milk and honey.
Through all the good times, through all they had accomplished, the ark of the Lord was there as a symbol of God’s divine presence.
Therefore the ark not only represented their past, but also their present identity as beloved children of God, cared for and watched over just like the sparrows of the air.
But, for the past 20 years or so, the ark had been sitting in storage.
You know how sometimes someone gives us something so valuable, like a piece of jewelry or a family heirloom that we become too afraid to lose or break it, so we lock it away?
That’s kind of what happened with the ark. And as often times when things are locked away, they are forgotten, and as they are forgotten, so are bits and pieces of the past.
Same with the ark of the Lord. The people were in danger of forgetting the good memories, like how God fed them, how God fought for them, how God forgave them.
Until David remembered. He realized that what the people needed to stay united, what they needed to be reminded, was the very thing that represented the Lord.
David wants to symbolically and physically bring God into the center of the kingdom.
He does not want himself or anyone else to forget about God, nor the traditions and stability that come from remembering.
So out of storage, out of mothballs, the ark of the Lord goes, and King David, full of passion and charisma, stages an extravagant parade to welcome the return of the ark.
Amidst singing and cymbals, amidst tambourines and castanets creating a beat, what does David do?
Does he simply just observe this joyous worship? No, he actively participates.
He dances, with all his life, with all his might, with wild, reckless abandon.
Like Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan, like Michael Jackson on the Motown Anniversary special; David is the original rock star and he’s got the moves like Jagger.
Why does he dance? Maybe it’s because sometimes when one is reminded of just how good God is, there is nothing to do but to dance.
Sometimes words can not suffice, so a handclap or foot stomp will have to do.
David dances with all that he’s got, because everything he’s got has been given to him by God.
Let’s pause here for a moment to think about dance. Dance has been around since the dawn of time, used as an expression of every emotion for every kind of occasion.
But dancing does not exist in a vacuum; dance builds upon the dance that came before.
Doesn’t matter if we are talking about line dancing or hip hop, if we’re talking Strictly Ballroom or America’s Best Dance Crew, all dance builds upon previous dancers.
Beyonce borrowed her moves from Fosse, Fosse from Fred Astaire. Any good dancer has been trained in elements of jazz and ballet, seen “Red Shoes” or “Singing in the Rain.”
None of this is about being chained to or weighed down by the past, but by knowing enough of it to be able to dance in the present and move on forward into the future.
David’s dance does just that. David’s dance is a way to help the people to remember the past and to bring it into their lives.
Not as extra baggage that will weigh them down, but as a form of identity that is meant to joyfully propel a person forward.
An expression of unbridled thankfulness and joy for what God has done in the past, what God is doing in the present and what God will do in the future.
David sums it all up by dancing.
In conclusion, all of creation is a dance.
We too have the chance to find ways to lay our burdens down and to dance, even if it’s just within our hearts.
We are invited to discover that God is indeed the musical director of our lives and as such we are free to rejoice, free to dance, to leap, and shout.
To stay alive.
With the assurance that God is enough, God is ever present, and as such, God is meant to be the center of our lives and the focus of our worship.
For that we can say “Amen” and “Let’s boogie!”