Monday, January 15, 2007

Dance, Dance Revelation

Last Sunday, I was invited to preach at John Wesley UMC in Yaounde for a special occasion. After being the church's co-pastor for the last two years, Pastor Rosalie was leaving to take a new appointment in the Mission Office as National Women's Coordinator.

The church wanted to give her an appropriate send-off! Boy, howdy did they give her a send-off! At the end of the service, Pastor David Sen announced that the church would take a special offering. When the band kicked in, the fun began! Everybody in the church started making their way in a single-file line toward the front to dance with the guest of honor!

The dancing went on for a good long time, and all the while, I kept thinking to myself, "This is the way it should be! Why can't we do appointment changes like this in America?!!"

While stifling chuckles at the thought of district superintendents I know getting down and boogeying like this, I basked in the sheer joy of it all. I have always been very shy about moving my body in public -- Leah can tell you that I avoid dances like the plague. It embarrasses me, makes me feel vulnerable.

But that's the secret of dancing. It is vulnerability in motion. That's what makes it such a beautiful means of expression.

And when an entire group of people is dancing together, moving and flowing, there is a power that transcends language at work. I think you have to call it the Holy Spirit.

As I stood there watching, I felt tears at the corner of my eyes at the sheer beauty of it all.

That is, until someone gestured to me, as if to say, "OK, Reverend, your turn!"

So I hopped right out in front of Rosalie, put my arms forward and started shaking, Cameroonian-style. For a minute or two, I danced. I put aside my fears and self-respect, took off my ministerial hat, and just danced like David.

It's FUN -- you ought to try it!!

North Texas Conference, be warned: if I ever come back from the mission field to take a church and settle down in the conference, I am going to bring the practice of congregational dancing back with me. Forget this liturgical dancing stuff; never mind the praise-and-worship stuff you hear on the radio. I'm talking about pure African praise! I'll be first out on the floor, and I'll expect you to follow!