What is Grace -- Love?
Grace is a concept. For that reason it has characteristics or elements. I will discuss four of these characteristics in this exposition. How these elements can be translated through dance vocabulary will also be included.
One element of grace is gratitude. A personal reaction to grace by the receiver is gratitude because grace is good news. The emotional or psychological response to grace that is experienced by the receiver is gratitude, gladness and/or joy.
A second characteristic of grace is that it is a gift, free of charge. We do not earn grace.We accepted or received the gift. I did not do good works to earn it. Human effort and good works does not get us grace. It is instead a gift undeserved.
A third element is forgiveness for any wrong done against others.The final element is mercy.
Grace by definition is an unearned gift that, we don’t deserve and often involves forgiveness or a pardon. This type of grace is granted to a prisoner for example. Parliament declares an “act of grace” to pardon a criminal. The criminal accepts or receives the gift of forgiveness and mercy. He does so probably with gratitude. God's grace is similar to grace given to a prisoner.
When someone harms or hurts us, they are sent before a judge in court. If they are found guilty the judgment is often a penalty which cost money. It can also involve imprisonment which costs their freedom. God is a just God and requires a penalty too. The penalty, the payment, the cost was borne by his Son Jesus. To escape the judge and the judgment we all deserve, involves accepting that Jesus paid for our wrongdoing by dying on the cross. If we are honest, we have to admit we have hurt at least one person lately and so all of us need this grace. God's grace is greater then all my wrong doing or sin and greater then all our wrongdoing or sin. In other words, it is because of Jesus that God can be both just and merciful. Jesus paid the cost for all our wrongdoing and is also the way that we can be forgiven. He achieved grace and justice for us by dying on the cross for us. His grace is indeed greater than all our sins.
One of the stanzas of the song "Grace greater than all our sins" which is found in the trilogy states "grace that is greater then all our sins." I show this idea of grace being greater by first contracting my body and arms inward toward my chest and then extending my arms in a large circle-like shape with jazz hands to express how large and infinite God's grace truly is.
I symbolize the idea "of all our sin" by gesturing with my hands to all who are watching and looking at them. I point to myself to include everyone.
I then cross my hands down low in front of me as if a prisoner in shackles and then free my hands my extending them outward as if to symbolize the idea of grace being greater and thus able to free me. While I do the releasing of my hands from the shackles gesture I clutch my fist then do throwing away gesture with jazz hands to represent of idea of my sins being thrown away in a lake never to be remembered again or the slate being wiped clean whichever image makes sense to you the viewer.
Forgiveness by definition involves being released from a wrongdoing. The throwing away symbol is meant to represent this forgiveness.
You too can be forgiven by God if you confess your wrongdoing and ask to be forgiven. (See searcher for more details.)The criminal accepts or receives the gift of forgiveness and mercy. We are not criminals but the example was used to contrast God's grace and judgment with grace and judgment we are familiar with; namely, the grace and judgment of the justice system. I’ve accepted God’s gift of forgiveness and love with gratitude. You can accept God’s gift too by accepting his Son.
He had forgiven wrongdoing in the past that his people the Jews did after they sacrificed animals including lambs. The shedding of blood would cleanse the Jews of their wrongdoing. Jesus is the Lamb sacrificed to forgive those of us who believe that he died for our wrongdoing. I received pardon from my wrongdoing when I believed that Jesus died for me and so can you (see Searchers for more detail). Jesus’ death on the cross is the central aspect of God’s grace.. I was saved from judgment because of this grace and so can you be.
For this reason the first and foremost element of God’s grace that I use is Jesus. I symbolize this central aspect of God’s grace by doing a sign of the cross with the use of my body to represent the forgiveness of God because of Jesus’ death.
The song "Grace, greater than all our sins" in this trilogy opens with the stanza "Grace, grace, Gods grace" and repeats this four times which allows me to develop the four elements of grace. The first element then is forgiveness because of Jesus who died on the cross.
A second element of God’s grace is love and mercy. God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son that whosoever would believe would have everlasting life. God the Father’s motive for giving his only Son like this was because he loved us. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. As stated earlier having mercy is another element of grace including God’s grace. God is a merciful God but he is also a just God. The sacrifice of his son takes care of the need for punishment of wrongdoing and the need for justice; it is also a gesture of love, mercy and forgiveness. To sacrifice one of my sons so that others can be forgiven and as a gesture of love is something I can't even begin to think about doing. This is what God the Father did for me. This is what God the Father did for you. God's grace is truly an unmerited favour of a loving God.
To give up my life literally as a sacrificial love offering is hard to fathom. Yet Jesus did that for me and for all who believe. One of Jesus Christ's motives for dying for us was also love.
To represent the second element of grace, I create an image of a heart with my hands up in the air to symbolize God's love for us. I mime drawing a heart with my hand. One that is drawn from above since God's love is from above.
A third element of grace is that it is an unearned gift. As stated before we cannot earn or work for grace. It is free and unearned. We are forgiven when we choose by faith to receive or accept the gift of grace through the work of Jesus on the Christ. Another way of putting it is that grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. It saves us from the judgment we all deserve. In other words, God's grace is the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Grace is an unseen gift we must receive based on faith so I symbolize the idea of receiving this unseen gift by placing my hands up high and together in a position of accepting or receiving this unseen gift. I look to heaven because the gift of grace is from God the Father who is in heaven.
A fourth element of grace is gratitude. The response to grace is gratefulness. In fact, grateful is taken from the root word--grace. It is the psychological or emotional response to grace that a person feels when someone like a judge or a person that has been wronged forgives us, pardons us or gives us another chance. A criminal is grateful for receiving a pardon from the judicial system. A Christian is grateful to a saviour who died for them. It is a heartfelt response a person feels when he or she understands what God did for them. It is a thankfulness that leads to joy. It makes me smile and want to jump for joy.This gratefulness and joy is hard to explain in words but easier to represent visually through dance.
The climax, the spiritual high or conclusion of the “Grace, grace, God’s grace” repeats involves a jumping for joy move to symbolize this psychological feeling. This jump for joy uses a turning or spinning motion.
This narration is meant to be an exposition of the concept of grace. It is hoped that the good news message of God's grace is simply illustrated here. If you want to know how to receive this gift of grace, through Jesus and his work of pardon for us and if you want to personally experience his mercy , joy and love, then click on to searcher. I hope that this exposition also demystifies dance by explaining some of the dance language or symbols involved.