Dancing In the Kingdom – Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom – Chapter 1 – Prelude
[Bible references: Luke 17:20-21; Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 21:1-3; 22:1-5]
Right now, it might seem hard to see images of the Dance of God’s Kingdom. We look at the news and wonder where things are headed to. Sometimes we look at our own lives and wonder … If there is a God where is God? What’s His plan for the world – for the church – for us? Then we pick up a book called the Holy Bible and read the stories and wonder how they all fit together. Then we look at the church – well, churches, there are so many of them – and wonder why it’s so complicated and messy and wonder if anybody’s got it right. And, what about me, my story, my mess? How do I fit into it all that?
But hints of God’s activity with His people are there to be found. God has been working through and intervening in the lives of many people that have been dancing the Kingdom Dance through the years, bringing hope and healing to the world. Their stories can be found in the Bible and in the rest of history and sometimes even inserted into the news of the day, in the middle of all the stories of our brokenness.
I dance because it makes me happy! My experience is that when I dance I can express something from my heart to God that cannot be expressed in words. Dancing is a point of contact with God for me. It gives me an experience of God as the origin of creativity and beauty … “I dance because I want to spread a message of love, joy, hope and faith to the world … Among the dimensions added by the dance expression itself is the meta-message that there is room for the whole human being and life in its fullness in a Christian religious setting. Dance can teach children and adults a body-embracing way of living, believing and being in God’s world. One participant says that through dance in general, “we want to communicate heaven to people down here, the message of salvation, our freedom in God, the joy in God, and the joy of dancing with fellow Christians.” … Through dance these Christian dancers experience and practice their religion in a bodily way. This means that their spirituality takes an embodied form and that dance for them is not only a bodily practice, but also a spiritual one.
For us to dance the Kingdom Dance we don’t have everything figured out, He does. We don’t even have to worry about the results of the dance because the results are not dependent on us but on Him, who is working through us. As much as we may mess things up, as we have done and will continue to do, He will ultimately restore us and the rest of creation, making us all into what He had intended from the beginning.
Among all the creatures that God created, we are uniquely made, even if we are not the physical center of the universe as some people may have thought at one time. Through the pursuit of science, we now have instruments that make it very clear that we are not physically at the center of everything, not that we can prove anyway. We are only specks on a small planet spinning around a star in an apparently random solar system in an apparently random galaxy in a universe we cannot even see the edges of. Although we don’t know where the center is, the universe seems to have been created with us in mind. The properties of the universe, the physical constants, the atomic structures, were all created such that it would support our existence. Interestingly, although we are creatures made of the stuff of the universe, not only can we study and reflect on the properties of that stuff, but we can also study and reflect on and even reflect the one who created us.
In the meantime, we do not know when He will return, and we find ourselves in the middle, in-between those two times, between the beginning of the restoration of God’s kingdom on earth and the time when it will be fully accomplished. In this in-between time, sometimes we see some signs of God’s restoration – and sometimes we can’t – and it’s hard to figure out what God is doing, especially when there are times that He seems to be absent. In those times, we need to call upon our faith to hold onto the hope that God is still working out His plans. We need to recall all the times that we did see Him at work, and then we also need to remember that getting to the end of the plans that He intends for us may require some pain on our part just as it required pain on His part. And like Him, our pain will be overwhelmed with the glory that will be revealed.
Our ultimate destination is not a mere returning to the way we started out, but to the full flourishing of our potential, where God will establish a kingdom of image-bearers released to display God’s character and reflect His glory.
“And salvation only does what it’s meant to do when those who have been saved, are being saved, and will one day fully be saved realize that they are saved not as souls but as wholes and not for themselves alone but for what God now longs to do through them. The point is this. When God saves people in this life, by working through his Spirit to bring them to faith and by leading them to follow Jesus in discipleship, prayer, holiness, hope, and love, such people are designed—it isn’t too strong a word—to be a sign and foretaste of what God wants to do for the entire cosmos. What’s more, such people are not just to be a sign and foretaste of that ultimate salvation; they are to be part of the means by which God makes this happen in both the present and the future. That is what Paul insists on when he says that the whole creation is waiting with eager longing not just for its own redemption, its liberation from corruption and decay, but for God’s children to be revealed.” 
With that in mind, we can not only wait and hope. We can participate with God in bringing His kingdom to earth and bringing a taste of healing and hope into a broken world that desperately needs it.
“Within the biblical story, the Christian discovers a constant call for justice on behalf of the weak and forgotten. In the biblical tradition, justice is an aspect of God’s shalom, a notion that carries with it the idea of completeness, soundness, well-being and prosperity, and includes every aspect of life – personal, relational and national.”
The suffering and pain in the world can be overwhelming, challenging our ability to maintain hope and persist in effort to bring shalom. That challenge forces us to focus on the taste of shalom that God has given to us knowing that it is just a foretaste of the fullness of the shalom that awaits us in the fully restored earth.
 See the section, “Recognizing the contributions of the Church” (p. 104ff) for some examples
 Schurr, Hildegunn Marie T. “Dancing Towards Personal and Spiritual Growth”) Nordic Journal of Dance – volume 3, 2012 (pp. 31-40)
 Slezak, Michael. “The human universe: Was the cosmos made for us?” New Scientist, 29 April 2015. www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630190-400-the-human-universe-was-the-cosmos-made-for-us
 Wright, N.T. Surprised by Hope, Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. Harper Collins 2008. Kindle Edition
 Katongole, Emmanuel. Rice, Chris. “Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing,” p. 72
Think about how the universe seems designed for us, our capacity to think about and explore it and then think about our capacity to reflect on the One who created it all. What does that suggest to you about what God has intended for us?
Read Luke 17:20-21 and pages 107-108 in the text. Can you think of any stories from the past or presence either from your experience or your reading that help remind you that God or his people have been working at healing and restoring our broken world?