Sunday, April 30, 2006

Vision #4

When God dances, we call Him the Holy Spirit. I went to get a glimpse of Him today, dancing on the backstreets of Nashville.

First, he was at a block party, where Steve Cherico had organized a gathering for the children of Antioch. I heard God speaking Slovak.Then he changed to Spanish. I heard him laughing through a Black kid who was sliding down a plastic incline. I saw God running in the grass with a balloon attached to his arm. I saw him shinning behind the eyes of adult workers who had labored for weeks to make His party possible. He had taken a break from candles and organs and was just having some fun, creating community and spreading some grace.

I saw him again tonight. He was moving through fifty inner city children, dancing for their parents and grandparents. They had been practicing for weeks because Patricia Cross, a quiet lady from our church, has been instructing them how to worship through movement. God was in her too. Years ago, God had asked her to help Pastor Bill Smith with his little church. So, she began offering dance instructions for the children around the church. She kept at it year after year, just being faithful in doing what she could. Tonight, the church was packed with families that she has slowly helped form into a community. They wanted to watch God dance in the feet of their children. They were not disappointed.

They did sacred music. Then gospel. Then Jesus Rock. And in it all, they worshiped the Lord with their feet and with their being.

Trish and I went to the dance with Beverly Robbins, a Christ Church board member who is also our catechist. She wanted us to understand her new assignment -- teaching Catechism to the young dancers and their parents. After the dance recital, one father asked her if she would prepare his daughter for baptism in our church. So if you dance with God, eventually your steps will lead you to His house. Beverly saw this as a confirmation to the call she had received through Patricia Cross.

As I watched the dance, I remembered Patricia Cross. She was a quiet student in our catechism class, fifteen years ago. I remembered how she returned the following year as a counselor. Then she came back one more year. And then another. She was faithful and dependable. Then Bill Smith asked for her help and she didn't hesitate. Year after year, she just did her best for the little inner city church children. Finally, just this month, she got a $50,000 grant to expand her ministry. A few people are now starting to help her. This year the high brow people who put on the Nutcracker downtown wanted her children to dance for them. So her vision is really taking form and touching hearts.

I was thinking tonight about what a great privilege it is to encourage people like Patricia Cross, Steve Cherico, Pastor Bill Smith and Beverly Robbins every Sunday morning. While I have been trying to figure out how to reach those who are hurting, Patricia has been at work already. And before her, the Holy Spirit was at work, brooding over things without form and void, waiting for people like her, Beverly and Steve to join with God in preparing the city for renewal and blessing. Jesus called them the salt of the earth. Tonight, I understood why.

When a church is really a church, Sunday mornings are about encouraging those who have been doing God's work all week. We gather to worship together so we can learn how to dance with God in the streets of our city. First we do it in the safe place -- the sanctuary. Then we go out into the highways and byways.

I want to learn from people like Patricia Cross and Steve Cherico. I want to dance with them because when I dance with them, I am dancing with God.

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