The atmosphere was electric as the three men danced vigorously in front of the regal couple, sweat dripping down their bare backs and their grass skirts mimicking every rapid movement. With weapons in hand, red-leaf arm bands, and face-paint, they looked like fierce warriors in post-battle reverie. The hundreds of observers clapped to the rhythm of the chant and cheered them on with high-pitched undulating calls. This was my first exposure to a Polynesian wedding reception. (see video)
The Fijians finished their invigorating performance and the Tongans took the stage. This time, a parade of people paid honor to the bride and groom, throwing wads of money at their feet. The Samoan’s offered an equally-moving dance, and the Hawaiians concluded with a hula (see video). I felt as if I was witness to a royal celebration with each community bringing it’s best song and dance as a gift for the bride and groom on their special day. What an honor to be a guest at the wedding and witness such a presentation!
My eyes were pricked with tears as all the performers gathered together for a finale song. They performed a hula to the common American song, “I can only imagine…” Never had I experienced such a heavenly foretaste than to see these members of many nations coming together to “imagine” what it would be like to present their culture’s gifts of original songs and dances to the King of Kings. On that night I was invited to peer through the keyhole of heaven’s door and gasped in amazement! (see video)
For too long, the traditional songs and dances of First Nations peoples have been stifled by the colonialist voices that called them “pagan” and shut them out of the church. But as these Native peoples come to know a God who loves everything about them, including the cultural expressions of song and dance that He gave them, they are set free to worship him in Spirit and Truth! That evening was a beautiful tribute of honor to the King of Kings and also to his servant, the bride, Moanike’ala, who has given herself to empower these younger Polynesians in their love for e Yesu (Jesus). It is because of courageous spiritual warriors like Moani that these beautiful songs and dances are being taken back from the enemy and redeemed for service to God again. And it is because of their courage to reclaim these songs that the global family can enjoy this gift!
I can only imagine what it will be like when we’re all gathered in heaven’s throne room, every nation, tribe, and tongue encircling the throne (Revelation 7:9). That is a party I don’t want to miss! I can only imagine…