Immanuel, God with Me: A Christmas & New Year’s Reflection By Mary Margaret Bawden of Soul to Sole Choreography

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”-which means, “God with us.”

I am thankful that God has been with me this past year. He’s there, with his finger on my heart.

Working on the Christmas dance at our church has renewed my hope as I look to Jesimage008us in all kinds of circumstances. Sitting before the fireplace one evening in December, I had a moment of reflection. Immanuel came that first Christmas but most people did not see him. They were busy with dance ministry, business challenges, family dynamics, and the ever-changing political landscape. I can relate. I excel at missing the point of Christmas, but God incarnate is always there, breathing alongside my breath, cradling me in his arms and showing me grace. When I remember to ask Him to help me as the days pass, he heals me. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Frederica Mathewes-Green said, “Being ‘in Christ’ is a transforming condition; it means the life of Jesus himself is within you, illuminating you. This is the calling of every Christian; the process is called theosis which means that one’s essential being is permeated and filled with the presence of God. It is something more than merely resembling Jesus, more than merely following. It is transformation.” (The Illumined Heart by Frederica Mathewes-Green, Copyright © 2001 by Frederica Mathewes-Green. Used with permission of

This Christmas I want to thank God for being with me personally in my circumstances, helping me to persevere in a broken world, and changing me to reflect Him. In January 2016, I had an operation: a right shoulder replacement. You heard that correctly. Lord, thank you for being with me on the operating table and later, during recuperation. Thanks for the incredible peace you gave me during the entire process.

Lord, thank you for guiding meimage009 to write and release my book, Dance is Prayer in Motion: Soul to Sole Choreography for Christian Dance Ministry, at the end of May 2016. What a t
eacher you are (and a great writing coach)! You clearly showed me the educational foundation for dance ministry because you are the master educator of all things. I pray that worshipers might look to you as they design dance in the church. Movement truly becomes Prayer in Motion when we invite your presence into the art form. Find the book on Amazon

Many of you continue to ask me about the content of the book. What does it cover? The chapters present practical material for dance ministry addressing leadership, choreography tools, a movement option called genesis that incorporates all levels of technical ability and style, a six-step method of choreography, and the four rehearsal essentials. Other sections cover the biblical foundation for dance ministry, and how pastors and ministry leaders who are not familiar with dance can use it to access the visual, creative nature of today’s culture. It captures a graphic snapshot of church dance ministry.

And another personal detail connected to the book. Can I ask you to pray for Mike, publisher of Advantage Books? He worked with me diligently to edit my book just before it was released even though he too had shoulder surgery in the spring. He made it through the surgery, but recovery is difficult. Love you friend.

Lord, thank you for DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited). I’ve never experienced your leading quite so clearly and quickly as this project came into focus. While I was recuperating from surgery, you birthed the idea of a PowerPoint presentation. Some of you know about the video materials I released at the very end of September when I spoke at the NCOSE (National Center on Sexual Exploitation) conference in Houston Texas. God supplied the right people to help me at the right time. I was blessed to work with my niece Lara (marketing and PowerPoint communication) and my nephew Neal (video design) who are professionals in just the areas I needed. Nothing would have been created without them. Their skills allowed me to post national research regarding child exploitation in dance so that the public might be educated about the difference between the art form of dance and the hyper-sexualization of children using movement. And there’s a big, scary difference between the two called pornography. Take a look:

Four minute trailer:

R&PG Educational video:

Please find time to view the longer R rated video (under educational presentations on my website) as it is filled with information that will give you the tools to articulate the beauty of dance as well as its distortion when the two forms overlap. Note too that there is a free downloadable PowerPoint presentation online that anyone in the country can use to present the same information as a local talk. I’d encourage you to share the information on Facebook with friends and family, and then use the presentations to educate others about the alarming trend to sexualize children in dance.

And now, another reflection as I close. In life, it’s important to remember who Jesus was, what we are celebrating, and why we need a little baby to help us in our circumstances. Sharpen your focus to look for Jesus at Christmas and extend that view throughout the year. I am thankful that God is Immanuel and that He is with me. Although my heart and mind need to realign constantly, His presence has made all the difference in 2016. With a friend like Jesus, I can hardly wait for 2017 to unfold!image011

About the author: Mary extends a personal invitation for you to find these materials on her website: She has been active in the Sacred Dance Guild for many years and taught choreography at the National Sacred Dance Conference in 2003. Mary will be teaching a choreography technique called ‘genesis’ at the California State SHAPE conference in February 2017. She holds a BA in modern dance from UCRiverside as well as a Masters Degree in worship from Hope International University.


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Posted in Christian dance, Dance, Liturgical dance, Religious dance, Sacred Dance

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