Footloose (and what it says about mourning and dancing.)

The movie that defined a generation, right? An oldie but goodie?

Well, they did a remake in 2012 I believe, and I watched it and it sucked. So I was looking forward to seeing the original masterpiece. And it was basically the same as the new one.

Except I have to say, the cast made the original. Kevin Bacon and his best friend really get you through.

But if the movie defined a generation, I’m concerned. The teens in the movie do some really reckless, stupid things, and they don’t really explain why they thought it was a good idea.

But in the end Kevin Bacon makes a good speech with a good point, one I’ve been thinking about this week.

He convinces everyone that dancing is biblical. Which it totally is. I don’t give much for denominations, I figure, each to their own as long as it’s not against God’s word; but the no dancing trend in the 80s and in some churches still really gets my goat. The Bible says to praise God with dancing, David danced, Miriam led the Hebrews in a dance after they left egypt, and Ecclesiastes says there is a time to mourn and a time to dance.

I have no problem with dancing as long as it’s clean.  In fact some people consider it part of spiritual warfare to dance.

Biblical dancing is the best because you don’t have to be good at it, you just make it up, God doesn’t care. No one else does either if their heart is in the right place.

I just got done with VBS (VAcation Bible School) at my church, and there’s never been so much dancing and enjoyment at any VBS in my memory and I’ve been going to them and participating int hem since  I was 8 or 9 years old. sO I have a decade under my belt. The kids were loving th music, and so were the leaders, we all felt celebratory.

It was simple, but that was fine. It didn’t need to be big, the point was that the kids were just enjoying God, and so were the adults.

And for me personally, it marked the anniversary of my cousin’s death. I’ve spent a year in mourning you might say, though I didn’t go all Footloose with it, and now it seems like the time to dance.

Actually, you can dance all the time as a Christian, because our joys and our sorrows tend to intermingle. That’s our life. And it’s not a bad life. Not if you believe it’s just the shadow of things to come.

People really want to live forever nowadays. Or they don’t want to live at all. It seems to be one or the other. And I think for both the reason is they don’t believe in heaven. Or if they do, they believe in it as this abstract ethereal thing that hopefully exists, but it has no bearing on the rest of their lives. Even Christians fall into this.

But how does a heaven like tha fit into Jesus’s instructions to bring heaven to earth? In the Bible heaven is the place filled with the presence of God.

LEt me unpack that a bit. We in the church always talk about “the presence of God” but do we understand what we’re saying? How is it different then just saying God?

It’s complex. We believe or are supposed to, that God is so vast he can’t fit into our perception, so when He is with us, it is never fully all at once there, or it would overwhelm us. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that we see dimly as through a glass. Like a telescope you might say. We look at God as something far away that HIs SPirit makes closer and bigger to us, but if we were close enough to see him clearly without the telescope, we would burn up. (Like the sun or a star.)

The presence of God refers to the amount of him we can sense and recognize. Though it is not the God only gives us a piece of Himself, when you get God, you get all of Him,  Just like the 1 John says whoever has the Son has the Father also. (And therefore the Spirit.) Only God could make himself both small enough for our minds to hold, and large enough to fill our bottomless void of needing love.

That said, heaven is the Christian’s dream, or it should be. Because in heaven our mortal limitations will be removed and we will be like Christ. Paul said “I will know even as I am known.” The Christian wants nothing more than to know God as well as God knows him or her. To finally have more than enough understanding of God.

We can’t have that here, but we are meant to be getting ever closer to it, because our eternal life doesn’t start in heaven, it starts on earth.

And that is why we say “Let heaven come to earth.” And goodness knows this earth needs some heaven.

To get back to the topic of dancing, mourning is at bottom not a part of heaven. Rejoicing is part of heaven. If anyone decides to embrace mourning as the truth of life, they have given up hope. And we shouldn’t do that.

If you’ll pardon me for using as superhero yet again as an example, I would point out Batman as someone who embraces mourning as the fuel for his fire. The only thing giving his life a purpose is his grief and anger.

Happy people puzzle cynical people, have you ever noticed that? And they annoy them. And they make them envious.

Now if someone is depressed, I know the answer isn’t as simple as just saying you perceive things the wrong way, but realizing that there is another way, and there is more to life is the first step toward wanting that for yourself, which is a step toward getting it.

And those of us who are already fairly contented with our lives, we need to celebrate that, dance, sing, have a party.

Until next time–Natasha

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