I am not a fan of ballet. I don’t fully appreciate it, and for the most part, just don’t enjoy it. I attribute this to my general lack of culture.
I am, however, a huge fan of my granddaughters. They are not perfect, but they come close. I have done, and will do things for them that I will not do for anyone else. Including go to a ballet recital.
The last recital they performed was centered on the story of creation, the fall and redemption. It was cute, awkward, sweet, boring, long and compelling. While my sole reason for being there was that two of my granddaughters were dancing, the presentation captured my attention and made me think. Here are some observations I thought of afterwards.
- The Gospel is a beautiful story. As the dancers portrayed each part of creation, the obvious climax was the creation of Adam and Eve. All of the rest of creation was pictured as celebrating the arrival of the man and woman as the anticipated finale to God’s opus of creation. The fall into sin was pictured as not only affecting Adam and Eve, but there was a shockwave that was sent through all of creation. No part was unaffected, from the stars in the heavens to the plants on the earth. And when Christ came to bring redemption, the entire creation danced with joy and new life. Whether it is through dance, music, or just simple words, the gospel is a beautiful and compelling story.
- All telling of the gospel is done imperfectly. As I watched, I noticed that occasionally, all the other dancers would be out of step with my granddaughters, who, of course, got it right. The ages of the dancers ranged from preschool to adult. Within each age group, the skill levels varied. Some steps were missed, some cues were lost. Not everyone knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing all the time. But the story was clear. It was told through the sometimes tripping and halting, and sometimes graceful and passionate moves of the dancers. And I was reminded that all of us are imperfect interpreters and communicators of the gospel. God has for some reason chosen to use the stammering lips and slow tongues of any and all who have come to know and love Jesus to tell others about Him. Some do it with more skill and grace, others stumble through. Yet the gospel continues to come through and people hear and believe and are saved.
- The dancers were part of the story, but they weren’t the focus. Whenever someone tells me that the gospel is “all about Jesus” I usually remind them, “except for the part where Jesus makes it about us.” We are not insignificant to the story of the gospel; in fact, if it weren’t for us, the gospel wouldn’t be necessary. (Which is nothing to be proud of.) However, we are not the focus of the gospel – Jesus is. As the dancers performed, we all paid close attention, especially to the ones we specifically came to watch. But if I had walked away thinking that the 7 minutes my girls were on stage were the whole story, I would have been wrong. No doubt, the dancers wanted us to notice them while they danced their parts, but the one who choreographed the whole thing wanted us to see each dancer’s part as a piece of a greater story. Even though the most important characters in the story to me were an adorable fish and a beautiful bird, I recognize that only because there was a much bigger story going on were they able to play their parts. The roles we play are significant because Christ has invited us to be a part of His Story of love and redemption.
I’m not likely to be buying season tickets to the ballet any time soon, but I will likely be called upon to endure a few more dance recitals in the years to come. And God may just choose to teach me a few more lessons from a fish and a bird in leotards and sparkles.