Track 1: For freedom Christ Has Set Us Free
The the ark of God carried the manifest presence of the Lord. David was excited to recapture it and to bring it back snd into Jerusalem: Reading from 2 Samuel:
So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. (2 Samuel 6:1-5)
One of the ways of expressing our excitement and joy is through dancing. This has been a Jewish tradition. David helped establish this practice. But not everyone was joyful:
As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:16)
Michal must have felt that David’s dancing was beneath the dignity of a king. How do we feel about dancing in our congregation? We can get excited about many things. How about sporting events for an example?
On their return from captivity, Israel celebrated the Festival of Booths. The people wept when the law of Moses was read aloud to them. But Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra, the priest said:
“This day is holy to the Lord our God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
The psalmist wrote:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced. (Psalm 126:1-3)
God had set his people free. Freedom brings joy. Does our faith bring us joy?
There is another form of dancing, which raises emotions that are quite different. Satan promises us a freedom which is really bondage. Reading from the Gospel of Mark:
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” (Mark 6:17-29
The freedom that Satan promises is a lie. Herod was elated, but then he found himself trapped.
The ApostlePaul wrote:
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
The commandments of the Lord are not the bondage that Satan tells us. They set us free from the way of sin and dearth. Satan’s freedom is a false promise that leads to destruction.
We are born to dance. But we must choose who will dance before. Will we dance for joy, or will we dance to our own shame, finally realizing that we have made wrong choices? It is not to late to switch partners. Today is the day we are invited to dance before the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Track 2: Suggestions
The reading from the prophet Amos and the Gospel reading seem to suggest an issue that resonates with us today. Should the Church and State be separated? Does the Church have any right to set the agenda for government?
Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, told the Prophet Amos:
“O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
God was saving through Amos:
“See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people.”
If the Church does not speak out, who will? Satan does not lack for spokespersons.