Monday, September 16, 2013


This picture is pretty
close, albeit a couple
years later. I look best
when I'm hopping.

When I was a sophomore in college, I had a favorite praise and worship song. It was called Undignified, by the one and only David Crowder Band. When this song played I would go crazy. I mean, some of you have seen me dance before. Take off 8 years of hard earned maturity (ha!), add several of my closest friends dancing insanely alongside me, and you'll be close to imagining just how undignified this spectacle could be.

It was years before I understood the meaning behind this song that had brought me so much joy. You see, Mr. Crowder wasn't the first to be undignified before the Lord. Nor was he the first to be mocked for it.

The second book of Samuel tells us of the reign of King David. You know the stories, I'm sure: David and Goliath; David and Bathsheba; David the Psalmist; David the man after God's own heart. But David did much more than write songs and poetry. He was the second King of Israel and the only one able to defeat the many peoples inhabiting the "Promised Land," something the people had been commanded to do back when Moses was still alive (Deuteronomy 7:1-2, 20:16-18). Joshua led the people in many battles against the Canaanites, but the work was not finished. In the many years that followed, the people grew lazy, and would often fall under the influence of the nations that surrounded them. Finally, however, David led the Israelite army to take victory over the land of Canaan, which we now know as Israel.

Apparently Mr. Jones never heard
what happened to Uzzah when he
touched the ark... (2 Sam 6:6-7)
When the land had been conquered, David's next task was to bring the Ark of the Covenant into capital city Jerusalem The Ark of the Covenant, you may recall, held not only the Ten Commandments, given to Moses upon Mount Sinai, but also the Holy of Holies - the most holy place, that is, which was hidden by a veil and was the location of "the Mercy Seat." The Holy of Holies was also called the Tabernacle (hmm.... we use that word even now to describe the veiled holding place of the Eucharist, the special instrument the Lord uses to bestow his mercy and grace upon us, now don't we?), and it was the place where the Lord was, in a certain way, present to the people of Israel.

This brings us to 2 Samuel 6. When David brought the Ark up the Jerusalem, he didn't just take enough people to carry it's weight with him - no, he brought thirty THOUSAND men. And these men didn't just walk along - no, they "were making merry before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals (2 Sam. 6:5)." Now, the Ark made a little pit stop at O'bed-e'dom's home (say that 10 times fast. Or just once slowly. Yeah, I can't do it either...) for 3 months, before David again took up the Ark to continue the journey. What happened next demands being repeated at length:

This was the happiest looking picture I
could find. I imagine that David was much
more exuberant than any image shows.
"So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of O'bed-e'dom 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. And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and 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 horn (2 Sam 6:12-15)."

Now, I dance pretty hard. I hop, I clap, I skip, I snap. Granted, I'm never going to win any dancing competitions, but I put my heart into it. But do I dance with all my might? And do I dance with all my might before the Lord?

The story continues in 2 Samuel saying that David's wife Michal caught sight of him dancing, and she despised him for it. She even rebuked him and called him vulgar. But David response cannot be what she expected: "It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father, and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord - and I will make merry before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes (2 Sam 6:21-22, some translations read "vile" or "undignified")."

Even more contemptible??? Abased in the eyes of his wife??? Really David, I know you love the Lord, but surely he wouldn't want you to look absolutely ridiculous. Surely he wouldn't want you dance so much that your wife despises you for it. Because, well, if we act like you, how will we ever be able to evangelize?  We'd be far too different from the rest of the world. How will we be able to convince anyone that we are rational when we look like fools?

And yet, I can't help wondering if this is exactly what the Lord wants from us. The Lord responded to David's sacrificial love by making a Covenant with him - an enduring promise of kinship and love that would extend not only to David's kingdom, but to the entire world. Indeed, it is Jesus Christ himself who was promised to David in 2 Samuel 7.

Yes, it's a little cliché. So are most
of the words of Jesus. You'll notice
people still listen to them ;)

And we have even more than David. We are not limited to one Temple, one central place of worship. We have the real body and blood of Jesus Christ in nearly every Catholic Church in the world. We are the recipients of endless love and grace, love and grace which poured forth from the heart of Jesus at Calvary.

I don't know about you, but when I think of the way Jesus loves me, it makes me want to get a little undignified. I want to dance, sing, even shout! But I often lack the courage to make a display of the joy which the Lord has given me. I mean, sometimes I can barely speak about it, let alone shout! I'm afraid of being called unintelligent, foolish, crazy, hypocritical, or hateful. But you know what? When I become undignified before the Lord he calls me "beloved." And often, it is our joy that draws others to the love of God, much more than our rational arguments.

I leave you now with a cliché : "Dance like no one is watching... Live like it's heaven on earth." Don't worry, I won't look at you when I dance with you.

P.S. Tune in to future blogs to find how the Mass actually is heaven on earth :).
P.P.S. Father Rowland would like me to remind you that this post is not condoning Liturgical Dancing. So please, don't strip off your clothes at Mass and do a jig! ;)

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