All God’s children got rhythm

All God’s children got rhythm, but Ezra’s rhythm is multi-faceted.  When our 2 year old grandson starts to shake, rattle, and roll, watch out!  He can dance you into the ground, just like King David, who “danced before the Lord with all his might” in front of the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:14).

But that’s not all.  The rhythm of Ezra’s gastrointestinal system is a beauty to behold as well.  Why, just 10 days ago, he swallowed an acorn (mea culpa!), and Ezra’s digestive rhythms broke it down and spit it out the very next morning.  Ezra continually reminds his parents that he is much healthier and happier if he eats and sleeps at the same time every day and isn’t distracted from his natural body rhythms by grandparents who always want to play.

All God’s chillun got rhythm, all God’s chillun got swing Maybe haven’t got money, maybe haven’t got shoes All God’s chillun got rhythm for to push away their blues

All God’s children got rhythm, which is especially noticeable when we get out of our sleep cycle.  All living creatures have a circadian rhythm, which is an approximately 24 hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes of humans, plants and animals.  This rhythm expresses itself through the seasons of the year, cycles of light and dark, feeding patterns, and the timing of migration, hibernation, and reproduction.

Studies have even shown that human beings have a “clock gene,” specific varieties of which result in altered circadian rhythms.  Early bird or night owl?  You may not be able to significantly change your internal rhythms, so listen to your body, learn when you are most productive and when you need to call it a day, and act accordingly.

One of the silliest things I read recently was from a Christian counselor offering advice about happy marriages.  He said that in order for a marriage to be healthy, both husband and wife need to go to bed at the same time.  Poppycock!  I can’t think of a more unhealthy suggestion.  Asking couples to deny their unique body rhythms makes for the blues rather than happiness.

I got a frown, you got a frown, all God’s chillun got a frown on their face; Take no chance with that frown, a song and a dance, turn it upside down 

All God’s children got rhythm, especially jet lag.  I’m the jet lag queen.  My body rhythms have always been very regular – early to bed and early to rise – so when I fly abroad, my body gets out of whack, which means trouble.  I can’t sleep sitting up, and I can’t afford to lie down in business class, so I’m doing a song and dance all night, watching one in-flight movie after another to pass the time.  When we finally arrive at our destination, the time change has my body so confused that I can’t readily adjust to new daily rhythms.  I’m either up all night for several days, or I wake up at 3:00 a.m. bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

All God’s chillun got trouble, troubles do-on’t mean a thing When they start to go ho-ho-ho; the old troubles bound to go ‘way, say All God’s chillun got swing
All God’s children got rhythm; Da-da-do-day, ra-do-day, ra-do-da-do, da-da, da-da-day... Doh-da-do-day, ra-do-day, ra-do, da-do, da-do-day

Yes, all God’s children and all God’s churches got rhythm, but so do our stores.  What better way to push away the blues than shop?  You mean you were not standing in line at Target at 4 a.m. on Nov. 26?  I was waiting for you, but you didn’t show up!  My kids explain Black Friday as an adrenaline rush not unlike that of a roller coaster, which explains in a nutshell (preferably an acorn) why I hate to shop.

Have you been tracking the changes in the promotional rhythm of Christmas in the last few years?  It used to be that Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season, and sales increased every week until Christmas.  Now sales often spike early.  Cyber Monday has become an even bigger retail day, where we can shop online from the convenience of our desk at work or home.  In the last few years, however, retailers are becoming more aggressive than ever and are baiting customers with great deals before Thanksgiving.

Maybe haven’t got money or maybe haven’t got shoes All God’s chillun got rhythm for to push, for to push, for to push away their blues 

All God’s children got rhythm, even district superintendents!  But our rhythm is very different from than of a local church pastor.  My life used to revolve around the weekly rhythm of sermon preparation, pastoral care, and seasonal changes of the Christian year.  Now I follow the rhythm of one-on-one meetings, fall church conferences, appointment-making, and annual conference.  The dates of every major Christian holiday used to be etched in my memory.  Now I’m not even sure what day Christmas Eve is.

Could it be that underneath all of the various rhythms that govern our daily lives, there is the steady rhythm of God’s heartbeat, calling us and our world to be a new way of living and being?  Could it be that when we’re feeling out of synch, when we can’t swing, sing, and dance, or when we feel the blues, it’s because we’ve become disconnected from the movement of God in our lives?  Could it be that the powerful Advent themes of watching, waiting, and preparation get lost in the midst of secular traditions that call us away from our center?

I am convinced that an insistent rhythm of grace grounded John Wesley in his faith and life.  That rhythm of grace was Wesley’s gift to us, and it is our gift to the world.

  • It’s the rhythm of prevenient grace, repentance, justification, assurance, and sanctification
  • It’s the rhythm of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience
  • It’s the rhythm of works of piety (prayer, fasting, worship, the sacraments, spiritual friendship, and accountability) and works of mercy (ministering to the needs of others)
  • It’s the rhythm of “doing all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
  • It’s the rhythm of believing that the entire world is your concern, not just your small corner of it
  • It’s the rhythm of engaging in public witness in order to transform our schools, communities, and world
  • It’s the rhythm of pushing away the blues by letting your light shine into a dark world

All God’s children got rhythm, including you.  What rhythm will lead you through the season of Advent?        

Blessings, Laurie

P.S. “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm” was written for the Marx Brothers’ 1937 film A Day At the Races and was made famous by Judy Garland.  The songwriters were surely familiar with the Negro Spiritual “All God’s Chillun Got Wings,” which encouraged slaves who worked in the fields and their children by promising rewards in heaven.


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