The Word in the Wings
The Word in the Wings > Be Ready: moving and internalizing 1 Peter 3:15-16
Be Ready: moving and internalizing 1 Peter 3:15-16
By: JESSICA NOONAN
Christians are frequently asked to memorize scripture, whether it is by a school teacher, a pastor, a bible study assignment or their own desire to memorize scripture. Memorizing scripture as an adult is extremely challenging for me. I have found that sitting and repeating the words over and over again doesn’t permanently seal them into my brain. BUT, I was able to memorize the verses that were taught at summer vacation bible school. Why? Because they were attached to hand motions!! Research tells us that when accompanied by movements, recall is improved and it makes the speech more memorable than it would have been without the gesture! How neat is that??
Here at Glorify Performing Arts, we work hard to understand, interpret and internalize scripture through our studies of the Bible. But we also use movement to expand our understanding. One of our goals this year is to memorize scripture so it dwells within us to then share the gospel with others. I personally don’t take my bible everywhere with me, so memorizing scripture is a helpful way to “Be Ready” to bring comfort and truth to others and to comfort and remind OURSELVES of His truths in order to keep us from temptation. One of the ways we make sure of this internalization is through movement activities.
1 Peter 3:15-16 was chosen for our first memory verse of the season because it highlights the theme of our first ballet “Be Ready.”
“…in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
After analyzing the scripture fully, the dancers separated themselves into pairs. First, they discussed how they would recite the verse. What would the cadence or rhythm be? What words would they emphasize? Where would they collectively breathe? This process turned the verse into a song, which was now ready for choreography. During the second step, the dancers choreographed movements that would bring the verse to life. It was so inspiring to watch the Holy Spirit work through them to show the meaning of the verse.
After the dancers were finished, we observed each duet and commented on what we saw. Each group internalized the verse in their own way and chose movements that resonated with them, which in turn helped to memorize the verse. The pictures that were created brought me tears and chills! How could it not?? My two favorite things combined together, scripture and dance!
Here are my observations:
- Each group created a position that represented grace and beauty for “hearts.“
- Each group designed a vertical movement for “Christ.”
- Each group placed their arms in front of them to represent “defense” but still in a graceful manner. Peter 3:15-16 says “always be ready to make a defense to anyone who demands an accounting for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.” And again in Matthew 5: 39-40, “But I say to you: Do not resist an evil doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also, and if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, give your coat as well.”The Lord instructs us to defend with love, not violence.
- For “Always,” they chose a rond de jambe, which means “round of the leg.” It reminded me of a circle which goes on forever.
- For “An accounting,” the dancers grabbed hands with one another which made me think of relationships and how our Lord wants us to have relationships with others. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Fellowship is so important in Christian life because friends that pray for us, hold us accountable and encourage us help us through the difficult times.
- “For the hope that is in you–” I thought it was interesting that they chose arms going outwards instead of inwards because we should be SHARING our hope with others, not just keeping it for ourselves.
- This group’s rhythm was very staccato, which reminded me of soldiers in battle, but it was still gentle. This was another example of the dancers symbolizing the Lord’s desire for us to “defend our faith” but with gentleness. 2 Timothy 2:24-25 reminds us, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.”
- They presented “An accounting” in a respectful, bowing motion. It reminded me of my own posture of gratitude for all that God has done for me. Colossians 3:17 says, “whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Gratitude and reverence go hand in hand; when I surrender and ask the Lord for help, He gives me strength to choose Him, leading me both to feel thankful and to lean on what God has already done as a basis for my future hope.
- This group joined together at “For the hope that is in you,” which reminds me that we are all one in Christ, as Galatians 3:28 states: “There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
- The movement they chose for “sanctify” helped me to fully understand the definition of the word. Their gaze and arms were toward the heavens as if saying, “to put you above everything, Lord.”
- Their position during “Christ” gave me a perfect picture of the crucifixion. Julia was in a cross formation while Aleksa was on her knees bowing down. These positions symbolized Jesus on the cross and His followers kneeling not only in sorrow for Him, but also in worship for our king. Psalm 95:6 says, “O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” Once again this group was reminding me to put the Lord above everything. Our posture of worship should be to lower ourselves, kneeling down in worship for our King.
- I loved their choice for “anyone.” They are facing each other but not looking at one another. I interpreted that to mean, you shouldn’t only share your hope with good friends, but you should share the gospel with strangers as well.
The fascinating part is that while some of these were intentional choices by the dancers, others were my own interpretation or maybe how God was choosing to present it to me. Watching scripture come alive through dance truly breathes new life into the scripture and allows the viewer to internalize and analyze it in a way they normally would not. Our goal through this exercise is for the dancers as well as the viewers to have the scripture become a part of them.
I invite you to watch the three different pieces and make your own observations and interpretations. How is God presenting this verse to you??
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