1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his heavenly dwelling; praise him in his mighty heaven!
2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!
3 Praise him with a blast of the trumpet; praise him with the lyre and harp!
4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
6 Let everything that lives sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Psalms 150:1-6 (NLT)
In one of the most famous of the many anecdotes people told about the great football coach Vince Lombardi, my favorite is the one where he brings the world champion Green Bay Packers to the center of Lambeau Field after a particularly bad practice. He asks for silence, and when the players have all quieted down, he reaches into the equipment bag and pulls out a familiar shape. Holding it up so everyone can see it, he yells "gentlemen, we are going back to the basics. This is a football." You could have called that "Football 101."
Last night we had one of those opportunities you remember for a long time. A chance to see God at work in all His glory, in a way that left you thanking Him again and again. We got to see New Hope's own Emma dance in a production you could have called "Praise 101."
If you looked at Emma, you'd be hard pressed to see the soul of a dancer within her. She's pretty serious for a little girl going on eight. My impression is that she likes things done right - precise. People like that don't usually gravitate to the arts. But when they do... watch out!
There were a bunch of kids on the program Friday night, and they were in full possession of all those gifts God gives to help kids enjoy life, and that give those who are charged with getting them to do what's needed - indigestion.
We saw little boys who were supposed to be twirling streamers as a "peace" candle glowed - smack each other.
One little girl was so out of synch with the others at one point, I thought she'd be trampled.
One little boy, fresh from a "talking to" over the "peace" incident, stood and cried silently on stage, even as he waved his flag - though limply.
The idea was to teach kids to worship. By letting them express their joy and love toward God with dance, tambourines, and drums, they could learn how to give their all to the One Who made them the wonders they are. It's just that sometimes I wondered if the kids would come through it without being hurt by a flying flag, or whirling streamer, or in a collision of dancers occupying the same spot on the stage at the same moment.
That possibility kept you on the edge of your seat. Seeing all of the miss-steps and the kid happenings was something you could have spent the night doing. Watching for mistakes could have kept you busy all night.
I decided to watch Emma. Emma danced for God.
She concentrated on her steps. Her movements were graceful and precise. She took great pains to make sure she was at the right place, at the right time, doing the right movement. And through it all, she rejoiced. She's still little, but she knows how to praise God with her all. Her shy smile as she was brought down front to be recognized came from the knowledge that she had done all she could do for Jesus that night. They asked her how long she had been praising God and she said two years (her parents said 4). Time flies.
I think Emma's passed Praise 101.
To all you adults out there who haven't - come to worship God this Sunday with all your heart, soul, and intellect. Give it everything you've got - just like Emma did. Make God smile.
A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at email@example.com and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at www.newhopevalp.org Thanks and God bless, David Wilson