Advent Dance – Joy

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those whom his favour rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ Luke 2.7-15

December is whizzing by and we’re already on week three of the Advent Dance blog. How have you been getting on with the activities? This week is all about JOY!

Joy is such a big part of Christmas. A friend once shared that JOY can equal Jesus Over You. That no matter what else was going on Jesus was always first and he always covered us throughout the day.

At Christmas we can experience so much of what is ‘good’ in Gods creation: music and dancing, food, laughter, traditions, friends and family. It’s important to thank God for those blessings. This weekend, as a family we finally had the opportunity to open up our home at Christmas. Sounds like such a trivial thing, but it’s something that we have always spoken about, but due to location or house size it’s just not been practically possible. It was a lovely time of entering into the season of Joy and catching up with a whole host of people.

How are you going to show joy this season? The angels that came to tell the shepherds about Jesus being born were said to have ‘great joy’ ‘for all the people’. Who are you going to share some of that joy with?

Movement

Have you really started your celebrations?? Jesus is coming! A great way to celebrate joy is to have your own little dance party. This is a regular feature in our house because my daughter loves music and movement (yay!). Admittedly generally she asks for ‘troll music’ or ‘let it go’ but when she moves and sings, she does it with some gusto! To have that uninhibited passion to move and dance brings such freedom. So this is a simple one….

  • Clear some space – anywhere! Around the Christmas tree, in the kitchen, or even the garden.
  • Pick an album and ask God to let joy flow over you.
  • To speak to you about who you might need to welcome into the house, provide some light to, or where you might need to shine more light in your life.
  • Get the whole family involved!

Reflection

Music Suggestion >> Holy Night, Matt Redman

After your little dance party. Take some time to reflect on what God might have said to you as you moved. Did he bring a specific person to your mind? Write it down, pray and give it back to God and ask what you are to do with it.

Book another ‘dance party’ in over the Christmas period and remember as people choose to bless you, you can bless them and others back with the joy that you have for Jesus.

Father God,

Joy, seems such a big word to accept sometimes. There are many moments when we don’t feel or see joy. But you have given it to us, to keep us going and to share with others. Help us to bless others with the joy of Jesus, and not be caught up in what people think or say. Amen

Advent Dance – Faith

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.” ‘ Luke 3.4-6

The second Sunday in advent is all about Faith and the trust that the journey to Bethlehem took.

Everybody’s journey with God takes a different path, it will begin and end at different places, with different challenges, celebrations and circumstances along the way. Mary and Joseph embarked on a journey to Bethlehem, not knowing what lay at the other end, not aware of the impact the child they were carrying would have on the world, even if they trusted that it was Gods Son.

What they did know however was that they had every faith in God and Gods plan. Faith that they had listened to God and were going the right way. Faith that God would smooth the valleys and crooked roads that stood ahead of them.

Christmas can prompt a time of reflection, a time of looking back on the year, what you’ve done, where you’ve been and maybe beginning to look forward to where the next year may go. How many of you look back on the year and can see where God moved, where God made your valleys smooth and straightened your crooked roads?

Reflect

Take a moment and think about a particular part of the last year. On a piece of paper draw or sketch what that part of the year looked like. Think about your peaks and troughs and how you went from each bit in your life to the other. What does it look like? Is it a straight path?

Music suggestion >> Death was arrested <<

Let’s get moving….

With your little map and drawing in front of you. Consider what it might look like to move your journey.

  • Does it have different levels, are there moments of quiet and stillness, fast and craziness, spiralling, rolling?
  • If you knew God was by your side along the way would your movement change at all?

Development Options –

  • If you’re able to work with someone or a group. Have a go at linking your journeys together, or dancing your sequences side by side.
  • How different do they look if you add someone in. Can that person provide support and comfort at moments when you thought there were none?

Activity

Place a blank piece of paper on the wall. That’s the journey that is ahead of you. It’s unknown, it’ll take faith, but God will lead you where you need to go. Place this next to it, if you want to. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.

Father God,

Help me in those moments on my journey when I know that I’m struggling but can’t see you, feel you or know that you are there. Let me soak in your word and knowledge that you will take me down the pathway that needs to be trodden. Amen.

Advent Dance – Hope

Father,

At this time of year we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle and what seems like the ‘necessities’ of life on earth. Help us to take a moment, catch our breath and recognise the HOPE that we have in you, the HOPE that you have given us, may it be an overflow in our lives. Amen

And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15. 12-13

As Advent begins, each Sunday it’s good to take a moment and realise the important things that we as Christians have. Over the next four weeks I hope to explore each aspect of the advent Sunday candles, with a small focus and some movement ideas for you to try. The first Sunday of Advent focuses on HOPE.

Hope can be seen in many ways. In the world people consider hope to something that they want to happen, or be true. As Christians we don’t wish or hope for something to happen, a Christian knows that their hope is solid, concrete and based on the word of God. In Hebrews 11 it calls it faith in action the ‘confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’ Like faith, hope can not be moved by circumstance or what the eyes see in the world. Hope is down to your stead fast belief in the one true God.

Romans 15.12-15 will have different meanings to each individual. What stands out to you, what speaks to you and sets your heart moving? With life right now, ‘fill you with all joy’ and ‘overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ stirs my heart. To know that God will always want to give an overflow of his spirit and hope and fill me with Joy can be hard, in amongst the chaos and busyness that December starts to bring.

Let’s get moving….

From Romans 15.12-13 pick two or three bits that stand out to you (or your group). Identify some movements that you maybe able to use to express those bits. Development Options:

  • Working with others, add support and ‘help’ to your movements
  • Add direction, level and travel to express how God can overflow into your movement

Reflection

>> Listen – Help from Heaven by Matt Redman << Find a space and take a moment with God. What do you hope for this advent? In what area do you need an overflow of Gods spirit?

As God brings these things to you, choose to write them down so you have an account, if you have a Hope jar, pop it in the jar.

Make a HOPE jar…

Gather a jar and make it your ‘hope’ jar. Turn a negative into a positive and watch God work. When there is something that you ‘hope’ for write it down and put it in there. After a certain amount of time, open up the jar and see how God has been with you through the things that you hoped for. Then maybe start all over again.

To make your own, you will need –

  • Jar with lid
  • Glue gun/ double sided tape or strong glue
  • Bits of ribbon or patterned paper
  • Rectangle to write ‘HOPE’ on
  • Whatever else you make want to decorate it.
  • Pieces of paper ready to write your ‘hopes’ on.

Once you’ve gathered your bits, it’s entirely up to you how you want to decorate it.

I pray that over the next, you will have an overflow of realising the hope that God has for you, and for all your circumstances in your life. Join me next week when we’ll talk about faith.

Every Giant Will Fall – dance

In February a group of us gathered together to spend a day dancing, praying and worshipping. It was great to meet new friends and catch up with old ones. During the final part of the day, we learnt a dance together, to celebrate the main theme of the day. That every giant will fall, because God is bigger than them all.

It was amazing to see how God worked amongst each participant throughout the day, helped them to grow as a dancer and grow in their faith and draw together with others.

When we looked to build the dance we wanted to consider how God had built us up during the day, from being on our own to walking alongside God and others in our walk. Verse one began with 2, verse 3 a group of 4, before a big group took verse 3. The choruses brought everyone together, to connect, rejoice and then move on.

Enjoy watching and be blessed, don’t forget that every giant has fallen, the mountains have moved, and the chains of the past have broken in two.

Make Your Space

It’s the last day of 2016, lots of people spend this reflecting on what has been and start to look ahead to what may come in 2017. Many people count down till the year ends, start the new one with a long list of things they are going to do, saying ‘2017 will be the year…’

But is that really the case…. stating things that you want to get through in 2017, your dreams, hopes etc. does that help you achieve them? There has been lots that has gone on this year, good stuff and bad stuff, which I am sure is the same for a lot of people. However, when I look ahead, there is one thing that I want more than anything…. SPACE.

Space in my house, space in my life, space to be me, space to dance, space to just be! Some of you maybe mothers, and others not, but I am sure each other can resonate with the fact that we all feel at some point like there’s not enough time or space. To carve out some personal time for projects (including writing this blog) or just space to think is really hard. So one thing I am praying more than anything for is that I give God space, which will allow me to have space.

God catches us unawares, rallies us in our darkest moments, sends us buzzing in the crazy ones. He is always there and waiting, let’s allow him the space to have that relationship.

In December we had a Dance, Move, Pray session. This was simply just a space to gather and move, spend time to with God. Myself, Lizzie and Julia were there, for each of us, it was what we needed right then. The opportunity to just be in a space, be close to God, to pray and move however much or little we wanted. I want more of this! I crave more of this!

So lets be real. Decide ONE thing as you enter 2017. Where are you and God? Where do you want to be with God?

I’ll leave you with a little clip from our dance space in December.

He’s got a Big, Big Heart

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Big Big Heart Prayer activity

Sometimes we need to know how much God carries us in his heart. This is a simple activity that you can do to help with reflection.

What you need:

  • Big heart drawn onto a piece of card
  • A mat or cloth to put on the floor in case of spillages
  • Different paints and brushes or sponges
  • Wet wipes to clean and a bin for dirties
  • Optional – felt hearts that people can take away with them, rope or something to mark out a big heart on the floor.

Invite participants to paint their hand and when they are ready print their hand inside God’s heart. There is the option if they wish to write their name in their hand in the heart, they could also choose to print a hand and write names of people who need to know they are in Gods heart too. Once they’ve done their hand print they can move into the heart drawn out on the floor and sit or stand inside Gods heart. When and if they feel ready they can then move and choose to dance right inside Gods heart.

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Hand prints in Gods heart – Dance Retreat 2016

Solid Rock I Stand

In Octobica-group-091016er I had the privilege to dance with some ladies from Emmanuel Church, Guildford, where we put together a dance to In Christ Alone/ Solid Rock by Travis Cottrell.

Putting a dance together is always such a process, but the most enjoyable thing is taking time to draw close to God and seek out what he wants to say to others through our dance. One of the over arching themes during this dance, was the desire that God is our solid rock throughout all seasons, and will carry us ‘when all around is sinking sand’. Each dancer has a different skill and set of choreography to bring to a dance, which is why it’s a privilege to work together. God speaks to us all in different ways, and that includes through different movements.

We shared the dance during a missions Sunday, which gave a great opportunity to bless others and show how dance can be used to share a message. Do hope you are blessed as you watch. Know that God will carry, He’s bigger than what you are going through, let him carry you, and build you up when you need it most.

 

The Lords Prayer

The Lords Prayer is a set of common words used across the world to pray to God, learn more about him and grow in our faith. As I started to run more and more workshops I recognised that the prayer offered a great opportunity to draw the group together at the beginning and end of a session using movement.

Over a period of time I began to build a set of choreography that could be used along the side the words, which could act as an icebreaker at the beginning of workshops. Moving and saying Gods word together.

Since then, many people have asked if there was a copy of the movements so they could take it back to their church and their group to share. Since sharing is central to what I do, I finally got round to making an instructional video. Use the movements as a starting point and add your own flavour or feeling to what is already there. Each of us pray differently and each of us move differently, so the movements are not necessarily one size fits all. They are however accessible to all ages and abilities and can be adapted as necessary.

We’d love to hear if you do this in your group, and how you get on, so make sure you let us know!