Pretending to Dance

This is post 5 of 10 in the Broken:Beautiful series. Guest post by James Nardella.

I remember one Friday evening in the village, a night before the Sabbath for the Seventh Day Adventists in Lwala. The members of the church choir walked from homesteads near the hospital compound, to sing, to dance, to praise their God.

As I listened that night, I was taken in, enamored by their otherness. I danced with them, drawn in by the desire to belong. But I did not understand the Dhulou words to their songs and as they were translated I realized that I did not honestly know the sentiment that sings them.

The choir sang of a gospel familiar with exhaustion, sickness, hard labor. Their voices rejoiced that someday those burdens would be lifted, that in the New Creation all will be liberated. Jesus leads the way to a well-deserved place of freedom. Their lyrics confess that they cannot do life alone, and my Kenyan friends mean it.

I do not know this place they sing from, and yet, I see the gospel come to life in their worldview. This is the gift of being among the poor: that I have reaped their view, in as much as such a thing is possible, that the gospel is for those who are desperate, who know that life is going willy nilly and that not much is as it should be. It is by nature, good news to the poor, and it is folly for those of us who think we have it all together, or think we might get it together someday, given enough understanding, or education, or cars in our driveway.

So to be with, to form some semblance of friendship with, people who live on less than a dollar of consumption a day, is a window into the nature of a God who will redeem and restore. Somehow, mysteriously, the poor are blessed and the rich are blessed to be with the poor.

As the choir sang, danced, and prayed, they foolishly lift their chairs in the air professing a crazy vision of renewal and justice like Isaiah. And I, pretender that I am, do my best to join. It is through their eyes that I believe in a new heaven that is coming in a day and time unknown, and is also here and now for us all.