The Grace Medley
This narration is meant to be an exposition of the concept of grace. It is hoped that the good news is simply illustrated through this grace trilogy. I hope that it also demystifies dance by explaining some of the dance language involved in this piece. Text, photo stills and eventually some video will be the modes used.
The piece I dance to is a medley of three songs which tell the story of God’s grace and what this grace offers believers. It is a perfect way to explain and define God’s grace. I will attempt to do it as a personal testimony and by explaining and showing key dance moves.
The second song in the trilogy is called “Grace, greater than all our sins”. This song from the medley uses the last verse of the stanza in the chorus and repeats it four times. I take the opportunity to explain four elements of grace and in so doing define grace in a visual picture form.
The words are “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace greater that all our sins”
The foremost and central element of God’s grace is Jesus who died on the cross. Jesus died for our sins so that God, the “Father” could forgive us. Since we are now forgiven our relationship with God the Father can be restored. Blood cleanses sin so Jesus Christ’s blood had to be shed. Grace by definition involves forgiveness or pardon.
I recreate the symbol of Jesus dying on the cross by extending my arms to make the “T” shape of a cross.
When the verse is repeated again I focus on a second element of grace, which is that it is a gift. By definition grace is an unearned gift that is given to us and that we don’t deserve. Jesus is the gift we must receive in order to be forgiven.
I visually express receiving the gift of Jesus by extending my arms to heaven. I mime receiving a gift by facing my palms upwards as if ready to receive this gift of God’s Son. The hands are parallel to heaven and close together so that a potential gift can be imagined to be placed there in my palms.
God’s grace is an unearned gift that I as an individual and everyone who believes in Jesus must accept. I don’t do good works or earn my way to heaven. The way to heaven is through Jesus and by accepting him into my heart . I had to accept him as my saviour and receive him into my heart and life.
I show this imagery by lowering my hands towards my body in a drawing in motion. This hand gesturing connotes the idea of receiving and accepting the gift into my heart -- into my soul. It represents how Jesus comes in and effects my heart, my mind-- my soul. I express the happiness and contentment I feel with a smile while I carry out the receiving of him gesture.
The third element of God’s grace is his love. He is our Father and like all good fathers delights in showing his children he cares for us and delights in showing mercy towards us who have accepted his Son. To sacrifice one of my sons so sinners can be forgiven and as a gesture of love towards others is something I can’t even begin to think about doing. This is what God the Father did for me-- for us. To give up my life literally as a love offering is hard to fathom. To suffer a painful death on the cross for others is unimaginable. Yet Jesus the Son did that for me and for all who believe.
I attempt to symbolize the love and heart of God by drawing the outline of a heart in the air. I draw it in front of me and up high to mimic the idea that it comes from our Father who is in heaven. It is because of his love that he gave us grace.
The final element of grace I symbolize is gratefulness. Grateful is apparently taken from the root of grace. It is the response to grace a person feels when someone pardons them and forgives them and gives them another chance. Likewise, it is the response a believer feels when she or he understands what God did for them. It make me as a believer smile and want to jump for joy. Who needs drugs or alcohol when we are blessed with God’s joy. To express this spiritual high or climax or joy I’ve chosen a jump with a spinning or turning twirling motion.
The second half of this hymn’s chorus is “Grace that is greater than all our sins”. What this means to me is that God’s perfect grace is greater, larger or bigger than our sins including mine. I express this idea of being greater by contracting in towards the bodies centre of gravity (torso area) and than expand or stretch my body, arms, and fingers. I use jazz hands and create the image of a circle with them to express the idea of largeness or a greatness that is infinite.
Sins bind us or enchain us like handcuffs do. Another way of looking at it is that they are wrong and conjure up the image of an “X” They lead to the pit and keep us far from God. I make an “X” with crossed hands to symbolize the idea of being in chains or handcuffs. This form of sign language beautifully illustrates the idea of wrong as well.The first fingers point down to a symbolic pit, who knows it may even draw upon a Jungian archetype or two. If so it should be intuitive for most people watching it.
God’s grace destroys, breaks or removes the handcuffs -- the chains. I am released of my guilt, despair, depression, discouragement, fears or other sins and so are others who believe and accept Jesus. These sins are discarded or symbolically thrown away in a deep lake by God and forgotten. I do a throwing action with my hands and arms to represent this idea. I (we) am not in bondage to sin any longer.I (we) are truly free. I gesture to those watching and point to myself to express the idea that it includes all of our sins.
Someone has to pay for our wrongs against God and other men. God’s chosen people the Jews used to do so by sacrificing animals such as lambs. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb and his death began the “Age of grace”. He is our payment for our pardon.
The lyrics of “Amazing Grace”, the second song of the trilogy, includes the following phrase “that saves a wretch like me”. God saves us from the pits in life. I do not need to feel despair or depression or guilt if I reach to God for forgiveness and help; neither does anyone else. Since Jesus saved us from the pit of hell of the judgment to come, I do not need to fear death or the afterlife and neither do other believers.
I have been discouraged by other people in my life but I don’t have to be if I remember to focus on these truths instead.
I symbolize the image of being in the pit and far from God by getting low down to the floor in the crouching position. I show that I have been saved from these pits by creating the image of a life line.The life being Jesus.I use gripping mime actions to represent being pulled up and out of the pit or saved by the life line.The mimed rope allows me to get out of the mimed pit . In other words, Jesus can be visualized as the rope of life that saves us from the pit of destruction.
When I acknowledge I am a wretch unable to do God’s will without him, full of weakness, I begin to realize I do not deserve him. It makes me sense my wretchedness. I symbolize and dramatize my lowliness by crouching down again. I further develop the wretchedness I feel by putting my head in my hands and shake my head to conjure up the psychological state of despair. I attempt to dramatize the humbleness and character of a wretch by miming in this way. God’s grace did indeed save a wretch like me. I am a wretch that has been saved from my own destruction and the judgement to come. He will save you too if you ask him to and invite him into your life.
There is a third song (which is not ready yet) and there are also further lyrics to Amazing grace which have not been discussed but can be seen on the video. The above text and stills were meant to help in explaining what a grace dancer attempts to accomplish. The purpose is to tell the story of God’s grace-- the death of his son-through dance. The purpose is also to express how God’s grace effects a Christian personally. It makes us feel loved, feel grateful- thus filled with joy- and gives direction and purpose in life.