CHANCE ENCOUNTERS #3
He was born Fredrick Austerlitz in Omaha, Nebraska in 1899. His stage and film career spanned a total of seventy-six years, during which he made thirty-one movie musicals. He’s generally acknowledged to have been the most influential dancer in the history of film and television. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.
In 1932, a Hollywood talent agent made this note on his screen test: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.” The screen test was clearly disappointing, and David O. Selznick, who had commissioned the test, described it as “wretched” in a 1933 studio memo. However, that didn’t affect RKO’s plans this up and coming dancer. WATCH
Fred Astaire danced his way into the hearts of America through musical after musical. Like Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, Carefree and Holiday Inn. Fred Astaire had the ability to make dancing look easy. He made you feel like you could get up and glide across the floor with the same grace and agility he had. Unfortunately for most of us, it wasn’t that easy. Some of us, like me, suffer from two left feet. Of course we know Fred Astaire spent hours and hours practicing so it would look so effortless.
The truth is, most of us will never dance like Fred Astaire. And that’s OK. But like the man in the passage this morning, we can still dance for joy because of the joy of the Lord. Let’s look at the passage and see why this man danced for joy. Luke 5:17-25 (NRSV)
 One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.
 Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus;
 but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.
 When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
 Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?
 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?
 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”- he said to the one who was paralyzed – “I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”
 Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God.
The Scripture has this kind of bland description that says the man stood up, took his bed and went home glorifying God. I’ll bet he leapt for joy. I’ll bet he did a little jig and then danced all the way home. If not on the outside, then at least on the inside.
In the United Methodist Church we have permission to dance, unlike some other denominations. Not only that but metaphorically speaking, we are all invited to dance with the Lord of the Dance, Jesus. Like Psalm 150 says, we’re called to praise the Lord with dance. But there are a few things we need to know in order to dance with the Lord of the Dance.
I. LEARN THE RIGHT STEPS:
A. First we have to LEARN THE RIGHT STEPS. There is nothing more embarrassing or goofier looking than someone on the dance floor dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe to Beethoven’s 5th or doing the Watusi or Twist to Tony Bennet’s “I Left My Heart In San Fransico.” I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure you can’t dance proper ballet to Blue Grass or Heavy Metal.
Certain forms of music have certain steps. In order to not look like a fool, we have to LEARN THE RIGHT STEPS.
A carnival owner attended a talent show in which the winning entry was a man with a dancing duck. The man set a duck on top of a large upside-down pot on a table. As soon as the man placed the duck on the pot, the duck began to dance.
The carnival owner was impressed with the talent of the duck and figured that he could buy the duck and make a fortune. So, he approached the owner of the duck after the talent show and offered to buy the duck. After a long negotiation the two men finally settled on a price. The carnival owner purchased the duck and the pot for ten thousand dollars.
Two days later the carnival owner returned the duck to the former owner and was absolutely furious. “Your duck can’t dance! I don’t know how you pulled it off, but I had to refund all the money when I set this duck on the pot and he wouldn’t dance. I’ve lost all my credibility because of this stupid duck!”
“So?” asked the duck’s former owner, “did you remember to light a candle under the pot?” (1)
We have to LEARN THE RIGHT STEPS
B. For us, that’s learning the basics of our faith. And that’s one of the reasons we use the various Creeds or Affirmations of Faith in Worship. Those creeds remind us of the basics of our faith.
We believe in God, maker of all things, provider of all things, who loves all people.
We follow Jesus, in whom salvation has come to us: He sees us for who we are, heals the wounds of our hearts, and makes us new.
In his death and resurrection we see the deepest truth of life.
We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, which empowers us for self-giving love.
We give thanks for the Church, the Body of Christ, and for the gift of forgiveness, the power of resurrection and the mystery of eternal life. Amen.
There a ton of Affirmations which keep THE RIGHT STEPS before us at all times. Knowing these help us keep the candle under our pot lit so we can Dance.
II. DON’T DANCE TO CLOSE TO THE EDGE:
A. We have to LEARN THE RIGHT STEPS but then we have to remember NOT TO DANCE TO CLOSE TO THE EDGE. What do I mean by that? Well, it sort of ties into the first one. You see, we have a tendency to lose focus or lose interest real quick.
Do you remember the scene in It’s A Wonderful Life where George Bailey is at the dance with his brother and meets Mary, who is now all grown up. They begin dancing the Charleston. And everyone begins watching them and laughing. WATCH
What they didn’t see was that the dance floor has opened up to reveal the swimming pool underneath. They keep getting closer and closer to the edge and finally dance right off and into the pool.
The reason they fell into the pool is because they lost their focus on the important thing, the dance. They began focusing and thinking about how good they must be to be getting that much attention. The focus moved from the main thing, the dance, to them. And when they did, they came up all wet.
The same thing happens to us when we lose our focus on the faith. When we quit focusing on God through Christ we’ve danced too close to the edge. And in order NOT to lose that focus we have to continue in Worship, Prayer, Bible Study, fellowship, tithing, all of those things which keep us centered in and focused on the Lord of the Dance.
This is Father’s Day, Dads (and Moms, too) did you know that the number one factor in the faith development of your children is You. According to surveys and studies; the future faith and faithfulness of your children, is dependent upon your faith and faithfulness. And the level of their faith is directly proportional to the depth and level of your faith. So, DON’T DANCE TO CLOSE TO THE EDGE, you won’t be the only one who falls in when you fall.
III. DANCE WITH THE ONE WHO BRUNG Ya:
A. You have to LEARN THE STEPS, DON’T DANCE TO CLOSE TO THE EDGE and we’re called to DANCE WITH THE ONE WHO BRUNG YA. Do you remember the lyrics to that song by Little Texas. It said: You’d better dance with the one that brung ya
You’d better hold on to the one that loves you
You’d better turn around before we’re through
And dance with the one that brung ya
You’d better dance
Simply put for Christians, we have a tendency to get distracted by pop religions and allow them water down what we believe. We fall to the temptation of letting outside influences control our actions instead of staying focused on Christ.
B. I read something interesting a couple of years ago. There’s a bird in Europe called the chaf finch. It’s about the size and color of a robin. It has a beautiful song, and people keep these birds like canaries, to hear them sing. But the chaf finch has a peculiar characteristic. It can forget how to sing. If it doesn’t learn how to sing again, it becomes depressed and dies. There is only one way for it to relearn its song. The bird has to be taken back into the woods where the wild birds sing.
In order to keep from forgetting the DANCE STEPS WE’VE LEARNED, we have to associate with other Christians and participate in the Christian disciplines. When we do, we’re surrounded by and we are enabled to remember both the Lord’s Song and the Dance Steps we’ve learned.
IV. INVITE OTHERS TO THE DANCE:
A. Finally, the major thing we need to do while Dancing with the Lord of the Dance is to INVITE OTHERS TO THE DANCE. That’s our major calling. That’s our mission in the world, not to fill OUR dance card, but to invite others into this joyous relationship with the Lord of the Dance who can heal us from the paralyzing effects of sin and fear.
Personally, I think we do a pretty good job here in Glen Rose. Look at the Thrift Store, six days a week the ladies and a couple of men dance the Lord’s Dance and dance their way into the hearts of their clients. Some days it’s a Texas Two Step, other days it’s a Waltz and occasionally it becomes a boogie woogie; but it’s still the Lord’s Dance and they INVITE EVERYONE TO THE DANCE.
Look at the Food Bank: Every week they Dance the Lord’s Dance as they feed the community. And a couple of weeks ago, they invited the whole community to dance with them, about 50 adults and 50 youth showed up to help the 250 recipients dance the Lord’s Dance with food. It was a beautiful Line Dance, danced in synchronicity with God and God’s people who were INVITED TO THE DANCE.
And then there’s the dance of our Youth. You’ve taught and inspired our youth to dance the Mission. That’s why CTCYM Youth Mission Trip is so successful. Now they might be dancing to a different beat but they’re still dancing the Lord’s Dance. If you think about it we danced to the backbeat of rock and roll and country, the music of our generation which was different than the music of our parents. The thing is, music and beat might be different; dance steps may be a little different but the dance is still the Lord’s Dance. You INVITED THE YOUTH TO THE DANCE. And now they are going out to carry out our number one mission as Christians, and that’s to INVITE OTHERS TO THE DANCE.
While we are doing a good job of Dancing the Lord’s Dance, what other dances does God want us to learn. What other Dance Steps can Jesus teach us. And that’s the challenge; to be totally engaged in this daring dance of faith which Jesus invites us to dance.
There was a little boy who went to the ballet for the first time with his father. He was absolutely amazed watching all the girls dancing on their toes. He turned to his father and asked, “Dad, why don’t they just get taller girls?”
This daring dance of Jesus and the Kingdom of God continues. This daring dance of Jesus continues because both sin and death have been defeated. We don’t need to get any taller girls or guys. We just need to stay focused on the Lord’s Dance.
LEARN THE RIGHT STEPS,
DON’T DANCE TO CLOSE TO THE EDGE
DANCE WITH THE ONE WHO BRUNG YOU
AND INVITE OTHERS TO THE DANCE
Hope is Singing the Lord’s Song. Faith is Dancing The Lord’s Dance.
This daring dance of Jesus will continue with us or without us. What new steps can Jesus teach us so we can Dance the Lord’s Dance together.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), March 2002
2. Rev. Adam Hamilton, Church of the Resurrection, Kansas