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Rodger Schmell is the pastor at Deep Run West Mennonite Church in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, the church where he grew up. He and his wife, Diana, will be celebrating their 26th anniversary on December 28. They have three adult children of their own and host three young men from Mexico, China and Liberia. They were overjoyed to invite their first daughter-in-law into the family this year.
2 Samuel 6:12-19 describes the time when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem and King David danced before the Lord with all his might. The text tells us that David’s wife, Michal, was less than enthusiastic about her husband’s lack of dignity among the common folks: “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would.”
This is the place where some rumors have surfaced that David was dancing around naked. He was not. The Bible tells us that he was wearing a linen ephod, or robe, like the priests wore. Most likely, Michal was referring to the fact that David had taken off his kingly attire and was dressed as one of the Levites who served the Lord.
When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the Levites did not receive any land as an inheritance. Instead, they were given the tithe that was brought into the tabernacle. They were dependent upon the rest of the tribes living in obedience to the Lord and providing for them. Levites lived by faith and were not the wealthy among the people. Perhaps this is why Michal was so upset. Her husband, the king, was intermingling with the commoners and dancing around with them as if he were one of them.
There is another king, a descendant of David’s, who also chose a path of humility and lack of dignity. He, too, took off his kingly robes and settled for less distinguished attire. In fact, this king set aside his deity to be clothed in flesh and bone. Born in a manger, he became the fulfillment of all of God’s covenants with his people. He danced among the poor of humanity because he had become one of them. He was overjoyed and didn’t care with whom he celebrated. There were those who criticized his life, choices and friendships. They, like Michal, were more concerned with appearances than what God was doing in their midst.
Of course, I am referring to Jesus who became even more undignified still when he allowed himself to be arrested, beaten and murdered on a cross. Wearing the shroud of death, he defeated the curse of sin to bring us salvation and eternal life. Upon his resurrection, he invited his followers to continue the dance of sharing the Good News with all the world.
Let us focus on the goodness of what God is doing in our midst and celebrate with whomever we are near. Even when we are criticized by others, let’s dance!
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