The sanctuary of Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church of Surrey, British Columbia, was quiet with expectation—and not just because of Advent. Thirty seniors were about to present a liturgical dance to “Agnus Dei” by Michael W. Smith.
At the appointed time, they took off their suit jackets, sweaters, and coats, rose from their benches, and found their places on the platform before the recorded music began and the lights dimmed.
They moved in unison as the words and music, by now familiar, carried them. When the last notes faded and bodies slowed into standing position, the sanctuary was quiet.
The seniors have been meeting as an exercise group in the church’s fellowship area for almost ten years. Coffee and conversation as well as an opening devotional and prayer have always been part of their morning routine.
Exercises include deep breathing, stretching, and light aerobics with music. The group has also enjoyed square dancing and line dancing.
Terry Van Dorp, a senior herself, is one of the exercise leaders. “Our cool-down was always done with something slow”, says Van Dorp. “When I played the Agnus Dei the first time as we did some stretching with our hands and legs . . . we immediately recognized it as something deep and beautiful: a way to express our love for our heavenly Father.”
The seniors were so moved with a sense of worship and awe that the dance has become part of their weekly routine, a liturgical doxology. And that is how they came to be invited to participate in the Advent service.
Rev. Lammert Slofstra is a regular participant in the exercise group. “We confess that we belong ‘BODY and Soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.’ We owe it to him to keep our bodies fit as long as we can,” he said.
Slofstra prays for bridges that connect the generations in worship, and this may be one. “Our seniors are set free to worship” says Van Dorp “and this is freedom for the mind and spirit and the body.”