On Saturday evening I went to The Gathering, a monthly worship service at YP based on the Messy Church movement out of the UK. It is very casual compared to the usual offerings of worship at YP. The worship is offered after a common meal and in the context of a craft for the children and families which usually corresponds with the theme of the worship. The youth lead the worship and sometimes the children get quite involved.
At the previous Gathering there was an opportunity for participants to voice their thanksgivings. The unofficial context of the worship that day was baseball fever. One of the children thanked God for baseball and another for the Blue Jays and finally, in an act of great Christian charity, a very young child thanked God for the Kansas City Royals. There was a gasp, but as this very young child led us we were reminded that God loves the whole world.
At this Saturday's Gathering one of the mother's, Julia, was our preacher of sorts. At each Gathering someone is invited to share a testimony more than a sermon and this was a wonderful testimony. Julia, who was raised in a corner of the vineyard where dancing was frowned upon, shared how she had gotten involved in a most unlikely calling of sorts by teaching ballroom dance in an elementary school.
Her work as an instructor is patterned after Pierre Dulaine, a professional dancer who brought his passion into the classroom of young boys and girls whom he believed would benefit from the discipline and grace of dance. (Back in the 1990's the film, Take the Lead, was based on his work in New York City.) The lessons help children overcome fears and instil confidence in some children who might have a hard time fitting in. It is a beautiful idea.
Julia's heartfelt testimony took me back to the year my wife and I took ballroom dancing lessons. I found dancing corresponds to the walk of faith in many ways. Some had a hard time following the lead. So many want to take the lead in life and go their own way, but all of us are called to be followers of Christ. Ultimately it is the music that leads us and in faith the music of love and grace must live in us and flow through us. The other thing I remember was having to practice every day and without going over the steps daily come lesson time it just wasn't there. So too in the faith. If we don't put the faith into practice all week it isn't someone else's fault if church doesn't make sense to us.
Back to Julia's story. She shared something very powerful. Her mentor, Pierre, recently returned to his birthplace in the land he left as a young child to teach dance among Jewish and Palestinian children in Jaffa, Israel. These children have so much to be afraid of, but the music and the teacher empower them to see beyond the fears and once they dance together their world will never be the same. The following is a trailer Julia showed us of an award winning documentary which has been made about his ground shaking work in Jaffa.
On Saturday night we didn't have a moment of silence for the victims in Beirut and Paris, nor did we end with the "La Marseillaise" as we did on Sunday morning, but we did go away with a hopeful spring in our step dancing towards the Kingdom. There is so much reason to be hopeful. By the way, Pierre has now taken his dancing program into the schools of Northern Ireland where Catholic and Protestant children are responding to new steps and higher harmonies.
Thanks Julia. By the way is this one of your children in the next video?
Grace and Peace,