It was a first for me. A lady broke out in dancing during a worship service. It was January, 1986. I was in Jamaica on a mission trip. I was sitting in the church worshiping with the people, waiting for my time to get up and preach. And suddenly, during the singing, a lady got up and started dancing. Having been either a Presbyterian or a Baptist for my then 29 years of life, I can honestly say no one ever got up to dance during worship—not even once. Well, I do remember a kid getting up and wiggling around during the song service in a Baptist church one time, but he wasn’t dancing; he had to go to the bathroom. Nope, I’d never seen dancing before in worship.
But this Jamaican lady cut loose. It wasn’t a frenetic jig, and she never jumped a pew. It was more of a rhythmic movement, up and down the center aisle of the little church, twirling and swaying and raising her hands to God in praise and thanksgiving. It almost had a ballet feel to it. And there was nothing forced about it either. You could tell it came from someplace deep inside her heart. “So what’s with the dance?” I whispered to the Jamaican pastor who was hosting us. He kind of shrugged his shoulders, as if her dance was the most normal thing in the world, and said, “She just does it when she’s thankful.”
Hmmm. I couldn’t help picturing worship as a lodge dance. God is in the stag line, and this Jamaican lady approaches Him and asks, “May I have this dance?” And she dances with God a dance of gratitude and praise. Well, I’m not much of a dancer myself. There’s not a Fred Astaire bone in my body. I’m not sure I could do a thanksgiving dance to God. But I can express my gratitude in other ways: words of thanks, kind deeds paid forward for the kindness God has shown to me, generosity in giving for the bountiful gifts God has given me.
This is Thanksgiving week. Take time to count your blessings. Find ways to express your gratitude to God and others. Even if times are not the best for you right now, you are blessed far more than you realize. As G. K. Chesterton wrote in a brief poem:
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
Why am I allowed two, indeed. Don’t let this week pass without expressing thanks. Give thanks to others for sure, but remember the source of your every blessing comes from the kind and gracious hand of God. So I have but one question for you in this Thanksgiving season: May God have this dance?
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
and his steadfast love endures forever!