Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Dance of Israel by Jenna Vick Silliman

I watched Christlyn from across the church. She raised her hands, bruised from 23 years of kidney dialysis. She lifted her eyes heavenward, swayed to the music, and she moved her feet too. Sometimes she made hand motions like sign language. Back in her corner she worshiped the Lord Jesus and she didn’t care what anyone thought. It didn't bother her if she was different than everyone else. Sometimes she twirled around with her hands raised. I think that’s the part that really got me. I was amazed. She was dancing over there!

I was drawn to Christlyn. I was drawn to the dance of Israel.

I said to her, “Teach me everything you know.”

We began to meet together and soon others began to join us. Christlyn introduced us to Messianic Circle Dancing. We watched videos and we learned the steps and the motions and the patterns of dance passed down through the generations. We met and prayed together also. I was told on several occasions by different people that I was a Miriam leading the women in dance. Christlyn gave me her tambourine. After years of kidney dialysis she was too weak to use it anymore. On Sundays the elders saw us over in Christlyn’s corner. They were amazed. We were dancing over there!

We dance a dance of  love and adoration of our Lord and King, Jesus the Messiah, Yeshua. We danced the dance of Israel.

Christlyn and I also love pretty, colorful, clothing and especially like to dance in twirly skirts. I admired Christlyn’s clothing and began to visit thrift stores to find more twirly skirts to dance in like her—the more colorful and the more twirly the better. I now have over 50 of them—all on a rack in the corner of my room with Christlyn's tambourine hung up on the wall. Each morning I pray about what to wear. I don’t care what people think and don’t care what is in fashion. I wear my colorful, twirly skirts almost every day.  One of my favorites is royal blue and white—the colors of Israel.

As it says in Scripture: "But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and the circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter..." (See Romans 2:29.)

Now I am like Ruth. I say to the people of Israel, “Your people are my people.” I know now that the Bible says we believing believers are grafted into the nation of Israel (See Romans 11:24.) and that we are together in Spirit and we are the Bride of Christ in love with our Groom, Jesus Christ. 

The elders called me into the office. I was scared. It was too much like getting called into the principal’s office when you got into trouble in school. I don’t know how I knew what that felt like, because it had never happened to me. I was a good girl I was. But now at age 51 I had crossed a line or something—I danced in church! Like my mentor, Christlyn, people are drawn to me when I worship Jesus with dance. People are moved even more when several worship dance in unity. It is heavenly. I was scared they were going to make us stop.

They didn't want to give Israel credit. They didn't want to be a Messianic church. They didn't mind if I worshiped with dance, or people worshiped with dance with me, but they said we are New Creations and we have a New Culture of the New Covenant, no longer Jews and Gentiles, but "One New Man" as it says in Ephesians 2:15. They said we had to drop the word Israeli off of what we were doing. Israeli Circle Dancing was now to be called Circle Dancing. They encouraged me to teach a class. They took out a couple rows of folding chairs to give us more room to dance. Sometimes I danced with a blue and silver flag. Sometimes I danced alone. Many times we formed a circle and danced in worship together. Even though we didn't call it that, we knew we danced the dance of Israel.

I taught a seven week class, every Friday night, on worship dancing. All different kinds of people came to my class, young and old, boys and girls, lots of women and even a couple of men—different ones each week. Christlyn, sometimes too weak to dance after kidney dialysis, would sway to the music and do the hand motions and twirl once in a while. She did her own thing and she loved the Lord. Her gratitude to Him and love for Him makes her dance. She and I have that in common too.

Christlyn shared at our women's meeting how we dancers are like Hephzibah. God rejoices over us and we give Him joy when we dance in worship. Hephzibah means, “My delight is in her.” Her brightness is like a stunning sunrise to the Lord. In the Amplified Bible it says she is exceedingly beautiful to Him. (See Isaiah 62:1-4 Amp.) He delights in us when we delight in Him and dance for Him.

I will never forget asking our women’s prayer group leader, Marsha Earline, what she thought of me and what I shared one Sunday. It was a short testimony about worshiping like King David—wild and free. She said, “Jenna, you are a burning torch.”

For a while I felt unnerved by my jealousy of Israel. What a beautiful, rich heritage and what gorgeous, meaningful feasts and festivals, and what awesome celebrations full of dance—and they all belong to Israel! One day I cried out to God and said, “It’s not fair, Lord! Israel has all this and we just sit still in church in dark, boring clothes and listen to the worship team and to sermons. I wish I had Jewish heritage.” He said right back to me, “It is all yours, Jenna.” Wow! What a delight to know I am a part of Israel the beloved to the Messiah. I too am the apple of His eye. It is amazing. My dance is the dance of Israel!

We pray for the awakening of the Royal Bride, Israel, the New Jerusalem.

Christlyn lives an hour away with friends that care for her—she battles with late stages of kidney disease. She has already lived twenty years longer than most people with her condition. I don’t see her very often anymore. When I do, I dance for her. She mostly dances on the inside now. Sometimes she is in so much pain that she whimpers in pain just to lift her arms. She still moves her hands, she still lifts her eyes to heaven, and her feet shuffle around on the floor--even though she is too weak to stand. As I dance and twirl in my colorful skirts, she dances vicariously through me. Once in a while our eyes meet and she nods in approval.

She and I have had dreams of visiting a large Messianic church, called Beit Tikvah, two hours away, near Seattle. They dance for the Jewish feast days! Christlyn talks about this dream every time we get together. She wants me to experience dancing in circles within circles within circles of Messianic worship dancers. (Some day I will dance in Israel.) It is on Christlyn's “bucket list” so we HAVE to go. Then she will have completed my request to teach me everything she knows. She says, “Jenna, it is amazing. They dance the dance of Israel.”

Christlyn called me for my birthday last week. As a gift she is paying fee for the Beit Tikvah Passover Seder which will be followed by about four hours of Israeli Circle Dancing. On Tuesday, March 26th we are going! Isn’t it amazing? Christlyn and I will wear blue and white and dance the dance of Israel!

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