RECLAIMING CHRISTIAN CLICHES: DANCING AROUND GOD’S GLORY

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“People were dancing in a way that I haven’t seen them dance in a while. It was a very human feel and it was really nice. It wasn’t about us being the DJs and saying ‘hey look at us’, it was all about the speakers, the sound and the way that people interact and dance with each other”- James Murphy

Have you ever been to a show where you get so lost in the band, the music and the crowd that you almost forget where you are? Or have you ever had a conversation with someone with such raw honesty and vulnerability that you lost track of time and everyone had already left the pub? Or have you ever been at a sporting event where your team has overcome all the odds to beat the other team and everyone is jumping up and down and hugging each other and drinks are being spilt because you are all uniting around the one thing?

If you have then you have been part of something special. Something I believe is at the core of what it means to be fully alive, fully human and fully present.

I’ve had a few of those experiences. The first time I saw a band live (The Charlatans, Ulster Hall, 1997, I was 14. You do the math.) The moments I have confessed sins to those close to me and experienced freedom. The time I first saw the Frames in the Opera House in Belfast (resurrecting my love of music in the process). The time I told my wife I loved her for the first time. These are experiences that transform how you see things. They open your eyes to a way the world can work that you’ve never felt before.

When our eyes are awakened to what’s going on around us, we soon see that we aren’t the focus of the world’s attention.

Is this the beginning of what it means to give all our Glory to God?

First though, a bit of a language lesson.

The original Hebrew word for ‘Glory’ is ‘Kavod’ which literally means weight or heavy. There is literally a heaviness to God’s Glory. Now this weightness can mean a lot of things like abundance or splendour so when we talk about the Glory of God we can talk about the abundance and splendour of God too.

If we go outside on a clear night and look up we can see the splendour and abundance of God. Burning balls of fire that seem so small but when the smallest are around 70’000km in radius, are anything but. To give you an idea of how big that is, well the Earth has a radius of 6371km. That means the smallest stars are roughly 10 times the size of Earth.

The smallest.

Or go to the Grand Canyon and look out at the seemingly never ending depth it contains.

It’s when we see the world like this that we start to realise the vastness that God contains.

It’s then impossible when we take the time and sit down to take it all in, to not see how small we all are.

It’s in the moments when we try and grasp the stars in the sky and it’s in those moments when we are with hundreds of other people singing the same song, that we realise existence is a lot more than just about us.

Could it be that giving Glory to God is about seeing other people?

Secondly, another language lesson. (Last one I promise).

There is another word for Glory the noun which is Shekinah, the verb of which, Shachan is found in the Bible. The meaning of this is to inhabit or dwell, but more than that it means for someone to continually live among people.

So when the writers talk about the Glory of God are they talking about God’s continuous presence with His people?

Does this then mean that for us to show God the Glory or exhibit His Glory to the world we are to be His continual presence on Earth?

To put it another way, are we to show God’s love to everyone?

Regardless of skin colour, or sexuality, or political opinion, or thoughts on what the Bible means, or disputes of what kind of music we should play in church, or if you support Arsenal (just checking you’ve been reading this series) or what they have done, or what they haven’t done.

Is this the Glory of God at work?

So on one hand we have this idea of God’s Glory which is big and scary and awe inspiring but it seems that the point of seeing God’s Glory like this is not to win arguments or to be sure that we are better than other religions but to point us to the smallness and the frailty of the world we live in. A world where we can create beauty one moment and then in a simple word or action destroy someone the next.

Pointing us to the fact that we need to look outside of ourselves if any of this is to make sense.

Is giving Glory to God about looking to the one who loves and accepts us just as we are?

One of the writers of the New Testament Luke, quotes in his book, ‘Luke’ (not one for imaginative titles) that when the Angels appeared to Joseph and Mary just before Jesus was born they sang,

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

For God, is his Glory intrinsically linked to peace on Earth for those He loves?

In Matthew Jesus gives a famous sermon about the kind of people that God shows his blessing to. People like the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the peacemakers, those who show kindness and mercy. Basically the outcasts, the people who society says deserves less respect than you or I and those who are just lost.

For Jesus to say that God favours these types of people would have been scandalous and heretic. To the religious leaders of Jesus day, God’s glory was reserved for those who followed the rules to the t (or the jot or tittle if you want to be a smartass).

It’s when we show compassion to the people that Jesus described that we are fully exhibiting God’s Glory.

Which brings us to the quote above.

James Murphy from LCD soundsystem along with the Dewaele Brothers from 2many DJ’s designed a new potentially revolutionary way to experience dance music. A way that instead of making the superstar DJ’s the focus, brings the music to the fore. Which means that when we take away the focus on the band we have to focus on the music and….each other.

So this raises some questions,

Like, is God’s Glory best shown when we talk about the number of people that were saved last Sunday or when Pastors build empires rather than churches, living in mansions and flying on private jets?

Is the number of books we sell as important as the time we picked our friend up onto their feet?

Is God’s glory shown more when we go to another conference or when we help out at a food shelter the night before Christmas?

Is it actually in the end, all about how we dance with each other?

Is God in the wind, the earthquake or the fire?

Or is He in the ordinary, the dullness, the mundane and the real life?

Because we all know, it’s a lot harder to dance with one another when the ground is shaking.

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