Some years ago I attended a high school graduation ceremony. As the students filed in, I could tell that things
had changed since last I had been to a graduation. While the school board member was giving a speech, a beach ball
was bouncing around and sent spinning through the air by the students. The valedictorians put on a comedy routine
and a quartet sang out of tune. It was like listening to a band in a parade that had never practiced and was
unsure of where it was going.

In the midst of this confusion the stage was cleared for a fan dance by a group of oriental girls in the student
body. The curtains opened and the atmosphere changed to awe and amazement as these exquisitely dressed young
women put on a demonstration of grace and unity. The audience, which had paid little attention to the previous
ceremonies hushed, then suddenly awakening began to applaud, as 12 fans moved in perfect symmetry as if the
twelve were one. For five minutes we were transported to another time and another culture while the rewards of
order, discipline, commitment, and community were playing out before our eyes. As I watched the rest of the
ceremony, I was impressed that what I had seen did not come out of the girls' school experience, but out
of their cultural heritage. The perfect unity of the dance had transformed the ceremony.

Have you ever been to a shopping mall with a skating rink and watched as a beautifully matched couple skated
around the rink? Many shoppers will stop all that they are doing to watch the precision moves of the skaters as if
reminded of something eternal. The same holds true of a formation of birds. In the case of one variety, when one bird
cannot keep up with the flock, others will drop off and fly with it 'til the tired one has a chance to recover and then
rejoin another flock and fly again in perfect order. Like the fan dancers, grace and unity are at the heart of any
group or species' chance of survival.

The same ingredients that hold cultures together hold God's people together. The same mystery that causes birds to
fly in symmetry causes the people of God to mirror Christ in the earth. Just as the graduation ceremony was confusing
and without direction until the fan dance, so are our activities for God without Grace and Unity.

"And I took for myself two staffs; the one I called Grace and the other I called Unity; so I pastured the flock."
Zech. 11:7

The two staffs joined together are a picture of the cross of Christ. The upwards staff, Grace, represents our
relationship with God based on the Grace He has given us unconditionally. The horizontal staff, Unity, represents our
unity with each other here on the earth. In the passage in Zechariah, the Lord eventually cuts the two staffs in pieces
as judgment against His people who have sinned so greatly against Him and each other. He then describes the
changes their actions are bringing upon them (the wicked shepherd that will follow) instead of the blessings
He wanted so much to give them.

Caring, seeking, healing, and sustaining are acts of grace that produce unity. How much we need them today. When
every man goes to his own tent and every ministry is in competition against the other, we sin against one another, the
enemy devours souls and there is no dance. Unity is what shows the world what God's heart is really like. Without the
dance all that remains is the ceremony and the contest. Like the gladiators of old, we can attempt to survive while
one species, race, ethnic group, political cause, church denomination is pitted against another, until we are
swallowed up in the cacophony of this world's system.

Many are saying that God is judging His house and this nation. He is tearing down the handiwork of man so that He
can be revealed. Like the graduation ceremony, it is not enough to have the shadow of what the event once was. We
must have the substance. In the same way it does not please God for His church to have a form of godliness and deny
the power thereof. There is a divine dance. The Holy Spirit is the choreographer.

It is no longer enough to simply go to the ceremony and compete for recognition. We must pick up the staff of grace
and the staff of unity, put aside selfish pursuits, and focus on Jesus. As we receive HIs grace, our little hearts are
broken away to allow the emerging of God's heart, the heart with no walls, no limits. Then we will sense the Holy
Spirit inside of us rising up against the winds of adversity, criticism, and apathy.

We will enter the dance.

Charles E. Smith