“David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David amid festivities. As soon as the bearers of the ark of the LORD had advanced six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. Then David, girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the LORD with abandon, as he and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn. The ark of the LORD was brought in and set in its place within the tent David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.”
I have to admit, that this is one of my all-time favorite scenes in the Old Testament, and I believe it to be very instructive for us today. I just love this King who is willing to throw caution to the wind, to set aside “appropriate” and “proper” as he dances like a fool before the Lord of Glory! Too often, I think, our Churches are filled with reverence, respect, silence, and solitude at the expense of our celebratory joy! Please don’t get me wrong here, there is a place for reverence and respect in the presence of God, but is there not also a place for celebration, life, love, and joy? Can we not also in our worship, in our praise, at our community gathering be people who smile, welcome, share, and rejoice?
I’m mindful of then Pope Benedict’s words at the end of a recitation of the Rosary at the end of the month of Mary, in the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens. There the Pope said, “Joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is the fundamental mark of a Christian: it is founded on hope in God, draws strength from incessant prayers, and allows us to face tribulation with serenity.” The Pope concludes that our Christian joy is what will get us through life’s most difficult times. It is our joy that will make us able to love even during times of darkness and pain.
David danced as the LORD was returned to Jerusalem from the house of Obed-edom. The LORD of glory was in his midst and as his heart rightfully overflowed with joy in the presence of God. He was moved to clapping, dancing, singing, and praise! Shouldn’t we also to do the same? When I was young and in Church, I was always told to be quiet, don’t laugh, don’t talk, don’t play…because Jesus was here. I remember thinking, “Is He sleeping and my mom is concerned He might wake up?” My friends, if there is one thing that is true about Jesus in the Gospels, He loved life, He loved children, and He loved celebrations! Let us move our feet and clap our hands during praise and worship! Let us shout for joy in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And let us always rejoice in the presence of the Lord!
A silent church is a dead church. The Church of Jesus Christ, a Church of young and old alike, a Church of joy and hope, a Church of life and love, will be a light in a world of darkness indeed. Let us follow King David’s example and be a joyful, resurrected, loving, and celebratory community!