TECHNOLOGY DANCE — SESSION 5

Technology Dance — Part 5 — Dance, Dance Where ever you may be I am the Lord of the Dance Said He.

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So far we’ve explored several different aspects of the Technology Dance. How to begin, The Passion, Moving to the rhythm, and dealing with the surprises. Had you ever considered the fact that there is a spiritual side to the Technology Dance. Well, I believe there is and I’d like to explore that topic in this chapter. As always, I’ll begin with a little story from my own dance experience.

In 1968 I met the most graceful dancer up to that point in my life. She was a young ballerina performing with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company and as my good fortune would have it a member of our church. Our pastor had decided to introduce dance into the worship experience of our church that year, and Lynn eagerly offered her talents. She was the perfect ballerina. Petite, powerful, poised, pretty, and very personable with an audience. I remember watching her during that first worship dance experience as she seemed to float in and around the pews, down the isles, around the altar, and past the baptismal font with wonderfully delicate, sweepingly fluid motions that simply lifted you and made you want to get up out of your pew and join her. I don’t remember which piece of classical music she chose for that first worship dance, but I believe it was a Hayden piece. Having learned a number of the Hayden Trumpet Concertos in my instrumental music lessons, the music really spoke to something in me and for the first time my spirit really caught the meaning of the dance in my life. I had not thought of the Holy Spirit imbuing someone with such grace and a sort of divine glow all around her as she moved about the sanctuary, but I can easily picture that now years later as I have seen it in other worship dancers in churches I have been a member of or have attended. Dancing in church may be forbidden in some denominations, but scripture tells us that even King David danced with great joy and abandonment as he was bringing the Ark of the Covenant back into the city of Jerusalem and into the Tabernacle on Mount Zion. If such a man as David could feel God’s joyous spirit and great pleasure within him in such a way as to use his whole body to express that joy, why is it that so often we have such a hard time accepting that dancing could be another wonderful way to express our love of the God who created us and gave us the ability to move and use all of our bodies for so many other things outside of worship?

I was a junior in college at the time and was teaching the Senior High Sunday School class that Lynn attended. Despite my close contact with her I didn’t develop a real attraction for her until two years later. During the two-year hiatus, I did go to several of her ballet performances and was just astounded by the way in which she moved across the stage. The balance and perfection, the power of her leaps, it was awesome. It was also the result of countless hours of rehearsal and numerous performances since she was a small child, and a wondrous sense of pleasure that she seemed to derive as she moved about the stage.

The summer of 1970 was a real transition time for me. I had graduated from college, had been accepted to a number of universities to study for my doctorate in Latin American History, but had turned them all down in favor of seeking an advanced degree in counseling. I was awaiting word on acceptance to the graduate counseling programs and not sure what I would do if I didn’t get into graduate school in the fall. I was back working in the Poconos and trying to focus on some of the changes in that job as well. I went home over a weekend at camp because I had missed my day off due to other responsibilities and that’s when I ran into Lynn again.

I went to church that Sunday and it was a Sunday where they were doing the worship dance again. I was enthralled with her dance as usual and after church went over to talk with her. In the midst of that conversation I asked her out on a date. She was very amenable to that idea, but indicated her Dad might not be okay with it because of our age difference.

That was the first time I had ever had a girl tell me I needed to check with her dad first before going out with me, but it was also a valuable lesson in protecting one’s daughters that I am very grateful her dad taught me. I did go and ask for permission to take Lynn out to a play. Man of La Mancha was playing at the summer theater at Dorney Park and her dad agreed to let me take her to that play as long as I had her home before midnight. I abided by the rules since I really thought a lot of Lynn and I didn’t want her to get into any trouble with her parents. I actually had her home by 11:00 pm that first evening. Over the course of that summer we went out on my weekly days off. We went dancing at the clubs in the area, and I found out what a fantastic dancer she was in general not just at ballet. We took day trips to various sites in the Poconos and just enjoyed each other’s company. There was a kind of slow growing passion between us which I think we felt most when we were on the dance floor together, but it was also very evident off the dance floor as well.

As life would have it however, the summer came to an abrupt end. I got accepted to graduate school and packed up my belongings at home and headed off to another adventure. I invited Lynn to visit me on the campus I was living at, but her father wisely refused. I think he knew as well as I did that there were big risks in allowing the growing feelings between Lynn and I to be unsupervised in a graduate residence hall, even if it was at a Jesuit University. Despite not being able to visit with each other we corresponded back and forth for a while. During that correspondence I learned that the church had gotten a new pastor who was more “old school” and no longer permitted worship dance as a part of the services. Lynn’s, own spirit seemed broken from her letters as well as from our not seeing each other. Near the end of my first semester in graduate school after quite a few unsuccessful attempts to get her dad to let her come visit me I finally told her it was probably best for both of us to move on. We were both really disappointed, but God often lets things happen in life for reasons we don’t understand at the time, only to find he has something way better planned for us then we could have imagined during the time of our disappointment. I know that became true for both Lynn and I later in life.

Here is what I want to say about the spiritual aspect of the use of Technology.

1. We sometimes don’t realize that Technology can have its place in the spiritual realm as well as in the natural realm. Without Technology the Gospel would not be able to broadcast today to every nation and tribe in the world via radio, TV, and the Internet.

2. We sometimes don’t realize how the use of this tool can do good by providing wonderful access to solid Christian teaching, uplifiting worship music, opportunities to learn about service and missions, opportunities to offer prayer support to people in all kinds of circumstances around the world that need prayer intercession.

3. We sometimes don’t realize how people who use this technology every day often find it has an impact on their spiritual life, sometimes for good and sometimes not for good. For good it can be a tool that helps them express their care and love for others by helping them keep in contact with persons whom they have built relationships with that may be a long distance away. It may give them opportunities to meet new people and build relationships that they may never have had an opportunity to do so in the course of their lives. It can be a tool for helping them explore in depth the Word of the Lord since their are dozens of bible translations and bible study tools available for free online. There are thousands of ideas for teaching and sharing the Gospel with children, and good solid games that have a scriptural message for the whole family free online as well. There are wonderful videos that share about what is happening with the church across the world. There are opportunities to listen to some of the best theologians and bible scholars online or via podcast. God can bless the use of this technology if we ask him to do so.

Likewise, we know that the tool can be abused. It can be the source of people spending time with others and neglecting their family and friends. It can be a source where people spend too much time alone and never build other relationships. It can be a source where they encounter information and images that distort truth and can damage a person’s mental and spiritual health as well as their physical health. It can be a place to express hate, a desire for revenge, and even a place to plot the death of others. Our good old enemy, Satan, can use this technology to destroy lives if we are not vigilant to his tricks and deceptions.

4. Overall, this tool is like anything else in our lives, we choose the areas of our lives we allow something to impact, and we choose how we will allow it to impact those areas. We can use it to enhance our spiritual lives or we can allow it to destroy our spiritual lives. I personally believe God gave us the knowledge for how to create this tool, and I also believe he can give us the wisdom for how to use it for His glory if we are willing to ask for that each day as we sit down to use it. So one of the things I try to do at the start of my day is to pray that the tool gets used for God’s glory, and that its impact on the lives of those I teach will be for their benefit and the growth of the whole person including their spiritual lives. For me technology can be a form of worship dance. I see this each week in the church I now attend, as we use technology to bring the Worship and Word to others by streaming the service on the Internet, by creating graphic and video content that helps support our worship team, by providing podcasts of the services free of charge to anyone who wishes to download them, by providing information about our church to others so they can consider us as a community of faith they may wish to be a part of. My youngest daughter is getting to use her God given talent of capturing images with her cameras as she helps prepare the video and still image content for our congregation. For her it is very much a part of her experience of Worshiping the God who blessed her with the ability to see things in ways that I sometimes can’t even image.

5. So when you plan to use this tool in your teaching, take a moment to stop and pray, not only for how you can best use it, but ask God to help make the impact one that also includes a positive impact on your student’s spiritual lives as well. Don’t worry about the details of how that will happen, let God’s Holy Spirit handle the details, just make sure you ask Him to be present in the process.

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