Our Advent prayer
“We have sinned and grown old,” says G.K. Chesterton.
That’s what sin does. It causes us to grow blind to the magic and mystery of God’s creation, to go deaf to the songs of bluebirds singing His praise. It causes us to fall asleep while listening to the staggering good news called the gospel. Ho-hum. Who cares?
We have sinned and grown old. There’s a time to weep, the Bible says.
But Advent, the staggering news of the incarnation of the eternal Son of God - God Himself taking on skin and bone and “moving into our neighborhood,” has the power to invade our sense of boredom, awaken our sensibilities and set us to dancing with all of our might.
We have a foretaste of this in II Samuel 6 when King David leaps and dances “with all of his might” when the ark of the covenant is brought into Jerusalem.
And there’s every reason for David (and all Israel!) to dance for the ark was the visible sign of God’s living presence among His people! It quietly declares that God is with us! And that message is enough to make David jump and leap and dance.
I’ve actually seen this kind of unfettered, uninhibited, full-hearted worship right in our own Stephenson Hall on a Sunday morning. Ask anyone standing near seven-year-old Abigail Estes when we stand and sing our praises. Abby is often off to the side whirling, spinning, arms-aloft, glad hearted, brimming with joy just like King David.
Perhaps that should be our Advent prayer, “Lord, in your mercy, make my spirit young again. Young enough to see your wonder, to know your presence, and to feel your nearness; and learn to dance the dance of gratitude and joy.”
God comes to us in just this way. The eternal Son of God is known as “the Lord of the dance.” The hymnwriter puts it this way:
I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth;
at Bethlehem I had my birth.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the dance, said He,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the dance, said He.
Lord, may be it be so. Help us to worship you in robust singing, fully invested heart and soul, opening our hearts to what you would have us do beyond dancing in joy for every blessing!
King David could not have possibly imagined the news we call Advent – the in-coming, incarnate, inhabiting presence of God among His people! This is what enables Paul to tell the Philippians (ch.4), “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Ah, there’s a time to dance, the Bible says! And if there’s ever a time to dance, Advent is the season!