Whilst we have suggested that our lives should form our worship there is often a “time of worship” when we wholeheartedly give our praise and our adoration to God our Father.
Eph. 5 18-19 (approx): “Sing songs from the heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” (The Message)
Col. 3v16: “And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (The Message)
We cannot suggest that we allow free form singing, dance and drama into our worship times unless it follows biblical principles! I cannot also suggest that we must sing, must dance or provide dramatic arts in our meetings together. Whilst there is some evidence that suggests we must, our society is built on the “rights” of a person to choose one way or another. If I suggested that it was necessary for each and every one to dance before the Lord in worship and praise I would automatically disenfranchise most people from feeling free to worship. Nevertheless, we need to worship and we need to find outlets for that worship.
Most people have heard the expression “singing in the spirit” and whilst not all will have attempted this you will acknowledge this as a special form of worship.
Certainly song in all its forms has formed the back-bone of worship since the earliest days when man sought to praise his God. However, there is no evidence to suggest that Hymns Ancient and Modern, Hymns for Today’s Church or even Songs of Fellowship are the limit of the songs allowed in our Worship times! Why do we have to use the music in front of us to direct our songs? Isn’t the Holy Spirit a far better songwriter?
Dance is a far more emotive subject. Unfortunately for many this conjures up one of two pictures – very graceful young women in long flowing dresses making very graceful movements to very graceful music, or alternatively very nubile young girls dressed in the most provocative clothing moving to music in such a way as to catch the attention of all the red-blooded males in a hundred mile radius.
But here’s the dilemma:
Psalm 149:3 “Let them praise his name in the dance: let him sing praises unto him with the timbrel and the harp.”
Psalm 150:4 “Praise him with the timbrel and dance”
2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might”
When David decided how worship was to be carried out he asked for musical instruments, shouts of praise, processions, prophetic singing and dance!
And in Jeremiah (31:13) the prophet foretold of dancing at the restoration of Jerusalem.
It was never revoked in the New Testament! In fact it could be suggested that it was greatly encouraged. Many of the words of praise had no easy (especially in a non-movement society) translation – so “jump for joy” became “exceeding joy”!!!!! Certainly Jesus did not suggest that dancing at the return of the prodigal son was in any way to be frowned upon.
If we have dance it must be acceptable and pleasing to God. I believe that unless the dance is spontaneous and in the most cases a form of private worship, each dance must tell a very clear story or message. This will require practice, training and a lot of preparation. Individuals should seek no attention so care must be taken in dress and style of movements used (especially when young women are dancing). It must not be a performance! The whole heart must be in the dance.
It is very sad that men do not associate themselves with dance. If David could do it so can we! However our dance will be different – it will utilise the strength of the individual and will often take risks that others would not attempt – because once again we need to put our all into the worship whatever the form. Not all dance has to be graceful! A search of the Internet for men within dance groups does not provide very many (I didn’t find any – but plenty of requests to encourage men to dance!)
There is a wonderful crossover between dance and drama. We understand that the formal worship dance must tell a message – but this is the essence of what drama is – whether mime or sketch or play. Many of the parables were stories – and even the prophets often used illustrations of a visual form to demonstrate the message (even to the extent of marrying a prostitute). Dramatic representation has always been a form of communication and therefore requires no justification – we know we need it in our churches to get even the simplest of messages across.