Lord of the Dance

Screenshot of Guinness World Record breaking Zumba class. 12,975 people dressed in yellow took part in a Zumba class in the streets of the Philippine city of Mandaluyong.

Screenshot of Guinness World Record breaking Zumba class in Mandaluyong, Philippines.

Honestly, when I woke up yesterday, the Philippines were not really top of mind.

I’ve never been there, I don’t have any direct connection to anyone there, and unless that nation makes it into the news, it is not a place I think much about.

As I started my day, a quick scan of Twitter yielded a BBC tweet about a town in the Philippines that had set the Guinness World Record for the most people taking a Zumba class at the same time (12, 975 to be exact.)


Beyond thinking a Zumba-teaching friend of mine would find that interesting, I didn’t really dwell on this tidbit of information.

I finished getting ready for church and headed out for the next stop on my Summer Itinerancy 2015 (which you can read about here.)

This week I drove to Eldora United Methodist Church near Fairmont, West Virginia and ran smack dab into a missionary from – wait for it – the Philippines.

Cue “It’s a small world after all…”

(Cue it, but it doesn’t strike me as Zumba material.)

Eldora is the “middle sister” on a three-point charge. Each Sunday morning, the pastor makes the circuit to all three, with Eldora’s service being in the middle, time-wise. (Being a middle sister myself, I could relate.)

The congregation greeted me warmly and made me feel right at home.Welcome mug, brochure and pen from Eldora United Methodist Church near Fairmont, WV. Given to first-time visitor.

It turns out the pastor was away this week and the guest speaker was the aforementioned missionary who has been serving in the Philippines.

He focused his sermon on the idea of repentance and following Christ.

He pointed out that we often equate repentance with cleaning up our act.

We think it means we have to “shape up,” so to speak.

The missionary encouraged us to think differently about it – not so much about turning away from something – but instead to think about turning toward God.

We can’t clean up our own act anyway, he reminded us.

But we can choose to follow the one who can.

In his case, following Christ meant going to the Philippines.

The Philippines.

And because of that morning’s BBC tweet, the connection with the Philippines got me thinking about Zumba.

(I don’t think I am alone in having interesting streams of consciousness during sermons. Am I right? I prefer to regard them as Spirit-directed. Bear with me as I unpack my train of thought from the morning.)

Zumba has a leader(s) – and everyone is supposed to do the same thing at the same time.

The goal is to “shape up.”

As Christians, we have one leader – but following him does not mean we will all be doing the same thing at the same time.

Quite the contrary…we each have our own unique calling and gifts to contribute.

One body, many parts.

In addition, our goal is not to “shape up” but to reach out.

Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

Jesus has invited us to follow him…to join him in the dance.

The missionary reminded us that following Jesus will look different for each of us and may look different through the various seasons of our lives.

Always be open, he urged us, to what God is calling you to do.

Dance, then, wherever you may be.

Maybe for this season of your life following Jesus will resemble a waltz, or hip-hop, or clogging, or salsa, or the hokey-pokey.

Maybe it will be Zumba.

We dance, not to “shape up” but to reach out and invite others to the dance.

I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.

Front of sanctuary at Eldora United Methodist Church near Fairmont, WV.

Lord of the Dance, Words Sydney Carter, Music 19th century Shaker tune: United Methodist Hymnal 261


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