God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I’m headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I’m singing God-songs; I’m making music to God.
Psalm 27:6, The Message Bible
Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, was an exciting day at our church-- and a time that to this day affects how I see Easter season when it comes around each year.
Perhaps in your own life you have such a time that continues to inspire you.
That Easter morning was special in many ways. It started with a large flower cross that someone had lovingly put together for worship. The sweet sight and smell of the assorted spring flowers set the stage for celebration. The sermon and homemade bread at the communion table added to the Easter spirit.
But what was most different for me that Easter Sunday were the mimes that came to worship. And believe it or not, I was one of them. You see, my fearless and funny friend Raye had gotten permission from the minister and church leaders to introduce mimes into the service. (for any who need clarification. mimes are dramatic actors that interpret a story or situation through their actions and gestures but remain silent the whole time. ) Raye and the minister had carefully worked on the plans ahead of times so that things could be respectful yet meaningful.
When Raye had first asked me to consider being a mime, I thought the whole idea was strange. But I did remember one worship that my husband and I attended. Mimes had been part of the worship service that evening, and their silent gestures and faces seemed to portray every emotion in a way that helped us understand the story better. The more I thought about being a mime, the less strange the idea seemed. I finally told Raye I was 'in' on this mime thing. That meant coming to practice and getting used to the mime makeup. At home, I kept laughing to my husband about the whole idea because it still seemed strange to me.
The makeup took me some getting used to, as did miming gestures. I felt out of place going through the interpretations. My mind took a roller coaster ride of emotions about being part: from excitement, to being scared, to wanting to completely back out of it all and run away I even called up Raye and told a list of excuses, including that I was scared and after all, too old for it all. The 'too old' excuse wasn't so good, I admit, because Raye was older than me. So in the end, Raye and I and a group of others became our Easter mime group. Our youngest mime was 12 years old. It was a very unusual group arrangement.
Easter Sunday dawned bright and early. Raye wanted us to be there over an hour ahead to put on makeup and finalize our parts. While I was sitting with Raye and putting on the makeup, I confessed that I had a whopping case of jitters—but DID still want to go through with the whole thing in spite of the butterflies in my stomach. I will never forget that Raye stopped what she was doing right there. She reached over to me, grasped my hand, and prayed with me right then and there. Soon enough, my jitters had calmed down.
Easter Sunday service started, and I was having a blast! This was one Sunday morning we were told we could dance! Soon I was dancing it all up, celebrating the risen Lord as I had never celebrated before. We could see in the congregation's faces that they also felt the excitement and enthusiasm. The mimes took part in every act of the service, from greeting to serving communion, spreading joy and hope, and witnessing to the resurrected Christ. The song, “Lord of the Dance,” highlighted the service’s conclusion.
Then suddenly, it was all over. Yet, I remember thinking that I wanted to do more, to keep dancing, to keep letting myself get out of my comfort zone for God, to laugh, to smile. I remember a comment our pastor had made near the start of the service, in explaining why the mimes were here: “A fool for God,” he'd said. This about described me; during the “Lord of the Dance” song, I was grabbing members of the congregation by hand, and gently leading some in a joyful,playful, worshipful dance for God.
After the service, as our mime faces disappeared, I told Raye that the butterflies had flown away. Being a mime became a learning and grooming time for me, a new way to worship our creator. Thinking back, I think that Easter sense, that Easter season from that day, has never really left me.
More than ever before, I had another way of knowing that Jesus is truly, “Lord of the Dance.” Worship need not always been a glum and serious time. And I don’t believe that God minds at all if we worship him with gladness in our hearts. Sometimes even now I imagine God silently leading me in gentle, worshipful dance to celebrate God's presence, no matter what is going on in my life.
Prayer: O Lord of the dance, we thank you for giving us cause for dancing, for celebrating your presence throughout our lives, even in those times when words won't come to us; even in those times when words fall short of expressing what is going on, even in those times when our dances may also include tears. Guide us in this dance of life, dear God, that we may be an Easter people, that we may remember to celebrate each day the new life that Christ brings into the world with joy spreads all around us. Amen.