Dance - A Triune Grace
By Bernie Ooley
About a month ago my husband Andy and I had the privilege of attending the first worship night of the year at BCA. It was such a great time of refreshing in a warm and welcoming atmosphere! We loved the free form direction worship took, with familiar choruses and spontaneous prophetic songs.
As I was lying on the floor in the back soaking up the presence after a long day… the dancers were released. As they gracefully moved among the worshipers, a new wind seemed to blow over us. The young man who was ministering in dance released such power in movement, yet there was a tenderness - it was meekness - power under control. I felt as if there was a great authority and strength being held under us in order to lift us. What I was experiencing was a unique dynamic released in the dance that I had not encountered before.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak to dance ministry leaders at a worship intensive. The host of the intensive asked me to address dance in the Bible, and whatever else was on my heart. I love dance, I love the Bible, so this ought to work, I thought, even though I had never done a ton of study on the topic. I knew dance was spoken of in the Bible, of course…familiar passages like Ps. 149:3, 150:4, and David dancing before the ark, to name just a few. But what I saw upon closer examination is how dance is tied to a specific type of worship - to hallel - one of the seven Hebrew words for praise in the Old Testament. We derive “hallelujah” from the word hallel. It literally means to worship with raving, boasting praises, to even be clamorous and foolish in His presence! This denotes abandon, freedom, and being fully actualized in Him! As I kept digging I found that the root word for dance in Hebrew is the same as the word for “giving birth” and references the movement a woman must sometimes go through in order to release life. Dance and giving birth, linked in the timeless language of God.
I do believe a distinct anointing is released through the dance in His presence that we find no where else. All forms of worship are magnificent, from the quiet bowing in His presence, to the shout, the declaration, and the prophetic strumming of an instrument. But it occurred to me that what we find in dance is a triune grace, as a dancer uses every aspect of their being in this expression of worship. We know we are three part beings - spirit, soul and body (I Thess. 5:23). We are spirits (our true identity), we have a soul (mind, will and emotions) and we live in a body. And Jesus came to the earth, spirit soul and body. He redeemed mankind, spirit, soul and body. That’s why we are not only assured of heaven when we make him Lord, but also our minds and bodies can be made whole! It was all paid for. Every one of these facets is readily ignited in the dance - our spirits are rejoicing and communing with God, our emotions are in line with that spiritual dynamic, and our bodies -as an extension of our spirit and soul - are fully engaged in the act of worship. A three fold cord.
Romans 6 is a powerful chapter full of new creation realities. In vs. 5-8 Paul reveals that we are dead to sin and alive to God -what a radical truth! We are dead and not legally obligated to sin! Then he says in vs. 11 that we have to know that, to “consider ourselves dead”. In other words, not only is this to be a reality in our spirits, but our minds as well. It’s through the renewing of the mind that there will be transformation. Paul goes on to say in verses 12 & 13 that we have the freedom to no longer present our members (our physical bodies) to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but we have the power and freedom to present our bodies to God as instruments (literally weapons) of righteousness! Our bodies, in line with our redeemed spirits and souls become weapons. Slicing through an atmosphere. Destroying strongholds. Creating an open heaven. Transforming even a “secular” arena into a sacred space.
No one expression of worship is superior to another, we need them all. The question is always, “What is He doing in this moment?” and then doing that! And of course we endeavor to give all of who we are to Him at every opportunity. I know I always intend to preach and teach with every cell of my being. Yet in this day of convergence, restoration, reformation and Renaissance, let’s take hold and prize and recognize the value the unique place that dance is divinely designed to give us. Too long the body has been considered evil, too long dance has been considered a taboo expression. We have a glorious assignment to demonstrate its redemption and through this medium go where others cannot to bring His kingdom.
Whether we are considered a “dancer” in the formal sense or not, I commend you, and encourage you - let’s lead by example, pioneer, cross boarders and boundaries and embrace this opportunity to release life -spirit soul and body. In this movement, movement is key.