Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11
Let them praise his name with dancing! Psalm 149:3
Our joy in the Lord comes out of the drying of our tears at our sin. Just as the returning captives wept as they heard the Law read for the first time, knowing how far they had fallen short, so we, when we look into the mirror of scripture find an image of brokenness. Yet we also find a God who has intervened, whose holiness gives perfection to mercy and justice in the broken body of His Son. So our weeping is turned to joy; our wailing into dancing!
This design was inspired by this concept and by an experience I had in worship with my granddaughter as an infant. On one of my visits when she was only a few months old, I kept her in the service while her parents served in the music ministry. I had put her in a front pack and was standing at the back of the sanctuary where my rocking and swaying kept her content, and was not a distraction to other worshipers. During the anthem, a particularly lively song, my rocking and swaying became more like dancing, and I suddenly remembered how often I had wished that dance was a part of worship as it was in the Old Testament! How I wish that I could go to worship with a baby every Sunday, so that I could dance and no one would think a thing about it!
That was the moment this design was conceived. The challenge was in communicating dance as two-dimensional art. As I pondered this dilemma, I remembered the beauty and simplicity of the graceful, swirling movement of ribbons against the rich colors of nature that my daughter used for dancing in the innocence and freedom of her childhood. I have done my best to try to capture that movement and joy.
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