by Dale Reeves
Way back in 1984 a movie was released that starred Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow. It featured a song recorded by artist Kenny Loggins, and the title of the song and the movie was Footloose. The movie told the story of Chicago native Ren McCormack who moved to the small town of Bomont, Utah. While attending church, Ren met the preacher Shaw Moore, his wife, and his daughter Ariel, whom Ren fell for. Ren learned that the town council had banned dancing and rock music within the town boundary.
Ren wanted to show his friends how fun dancing could be, so he drove them to a country bar about a hundred miles away. On the drive home they crossed a bridge where Ariel described how her older brother had died in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol after a night of dancing. This incident shattered Shaw, prompting him to persuade the town council to enact anti-liquor, anti-drug, and anti-dance laws. Ren decided to challenge the anti-dancing ordinance so that the local high school could hold a senior prom. With Ariel’s help, Ren went before the town council and read some Bible verses citing scriptural significance of dancing as a way to celebrate. One of my favorite parts of his speech was when he said, “King David danced before the Lord with all his might—leaping and dancing before the Lord. Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time for every purpose under Heaven . . . a time to laugh, and a time to weep, a time to mourn, and there is a time to dance. . . . See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life.”
Shaw and the council voted against Ren’s proposal, but his wife helped convince him to let them have the prom. On prom night, Shaw and his wife listened from outside the mill, where the prom was held, and ended up dancing with each other for the first time in years. The movie ends with everyone happily dancing the night away.
A Day to Celebrate
Do you know what today, April 29, is? It is International Dance Day! Here’s what it’s about, according to nationaldaycalendar.com:
It is “an annual celebration of how dancing positively impacts our lives. The human body’s ability to move, groove, pop, and lock has captivated the way we interact with music and express ourselves artistically.” The International Dance Committee chose April 29 as International Dance Day to honor Jean-Georges Noverre’s birthday. He is credited with being the creator of modern ballet.
Over the past several years, we have so enjoyed hosting Tim Tebow’s “Night to Shine” proms at our church, honoring all the kings and queens that come to that event. And, what a celebration of dancing and joy it is before the Lord, as we spend the evening loving on some very special souls. And, when everyone is jumping around in our auditorium, it doesn’t matter who is a good dancer and who isn’t. The important thing is that we are all a part of a celebration that I have often described as a “picture of Heaven.”
In one of the episodes of the recently released binge-worthy series, The Chosen, I love the scene of the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. At one point in the dialogue, Simon Peter is making fun of his brother Andrew, who is pretty awkward in his dancing. Simon looks at Jesus and asks him, “Can you help him?” And Jesus responds jokingly, “Some things even I cannot do.” Now, we know this probably didn’t happen exactly like that, and we’re not putting words in Jesus’ mouth. Like all other depictions of Jesus’ life on the big screen, they have taken a few liberties with the dialogue. But I think the scene is pretty funny.
A Lord to Celebrate
If I’ve ever been teased in a church about moving too much in a worship service in celebration of our God by someone who is anti-dance in a church building, I’ve said, “I’m not dancing. I’m rhythmically standing!”
Have you ever heard the song, “Lord of the Dance”? It was written by English songwriter Sydney Carter in 1963. It’s a song about how Jesus went all throughout his life on earth, his death, and his resurrection . . . dancing.
“Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.”
I think you will enjoy listening to this song on International Dance Day, as it was performed by the Dubliners: click to watch
So, what do you have today to dance about? I believe wholeheartedly that God wants us to not just be happy, but to enjoy him, to celebrate his presence in our lives, and to dance before him with all our might!
“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!”
—Philippians 4:4, The Message
“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song.
Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.
O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.
Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.
For the Lord delights in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.”
—Psalm 149:1-4, NLT
“You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.”
—Psalm 30:11, 12, The Message