Life is full of rhythm.

The daily rhythm of sunrise and sunset.
The seasonal rhythm of winter, spring, summer, fall.
The lunar rhythm seen in the cycles of the moon.

When we consider the human body we can say life is rhythm.
The steady rhythm of breathing.
The syncopated rhythm of the heart.
The many rhythms of a healthy body.
When your body is out of rhythm you are sick.
If the rhythm is not restored you are dead.

Art is rhythm.
Dance is rhythm
Poetry is rhythm.
Music is rhythm.
(Pitch is the varying rhythms of frequency.)
Is symmetry (the essence of beauty) a kind of rhythm?

Strength is rhythm.
The engine in your car is a machine for maintaining rhythm.
When your car is out of rhythm you take it to the mechanic.
One of the secrets to climbing a mountain is rhythm.
It’s easier to climb a mountain with rhythm than in fits and starts.

If String Theory is right…
(The quantum world consists of single-dimensional oscillating strings.)
…the entire physical universe is rhythm.

But we have lost our rhythm.

Modern life is designed to wreck rhythm.
No longer do we rise and set with the sun.
Our frenzied lives seem to lack a sense of rhythm.
Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast.

Jet lag is the general malaise that comes from moving so fast that you are no longer in time with the rhythms of the sun and your own body. Jet lag isn’t just fatigue — it’s the sensation that you are out of sync. Could it be that the entire modern world suffers from a kind of cultural jet lag?

Many of the laws given to Israel were designed to establish a holy rhythm.
The daily sacrifices, seasonal feasts and most of all the weekly Sabbath.
Rabbinic scholars will tell you the cornerstone of Jewish life is the Sabbath.

Sabbath controversy more than any other thing set Jesus and the Pharisees at odds. Jesus was not liberalizing the sabbath laws, but doing something far more radical: Claiming to be God! This is the true understanding of the Son of Man as Lord of the Sabbath. And that the holy day of weekly worship immediately moved from the seventh day to the first day for the first Jewish followers of Jesus is one of the most compelling evidences for the resurrection. Yes, there is a perpetual Sabbath rest of grace entered into by faith, but there is also a rhythmic holy day called the Lord’s Day. We call it Sunday.

I started thinking about rhythmic spirituality on May 30. That was the 150th day of the year. For years I’ve been in the habit of reading the psalm that corresponds with the day of the year. On the 151st day I start over. Rhythm. There’s not an endless supply of psalms, there’s only 150. My daily psalm is an important part of my spiritual rhythm. I don’t read the psalms like I might read a volume of theology: read it once, maybe twice, extract the information and then put it away. The psalms are not primarily about theological information (though there’s plenty of that in the Psalms); the Psalms are primarily about prayer structure, holy rhythm and emotional health. In the canon of the Psalms the full range of human emotion is played out in prayer. If you will pray (not just read), or better yet, sing or chant the Psalms on a daily basis, it will restore your soul and keep you in mental and emotional health.

Remember, health is rhythm.

You need holy rhythms in your life.
A rhythm of prayer.
A rhythm of scripture.
A rhythm of worship.
A rhythm of communion.
A rhythm of calendar.
(Holidays. Holy days.)

Weekly communion is an ancient rhythm of the church.
I wasn’t raised in the ancient tradition of the weekly rhythm of communion.
But a few years ago I made it part of my spiritual rhythm.
I’m now convinced it’s an essential part of spiritual health.

Likewise I now give much more attention to Christian holidays:
Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.
A rhythm of incarnation, resurrection and immersion in the Holy Spirit.

The Lord’s day is central to maintaining holy rhythm.
The Son of Man altered the holy day, but he didn’t eliminate it.
Communal worship on the Lord’s day is the central rhythm of the saints.

During the French Revolution the atheistic revolutionaries implemented the French Republican Calendar — a calendar with a ten day week. It was observed for twelve years (1793-1805). It was adopted in large part to cause people to forget Sunday and thereby forget Christianity. The French revolutionary atheists knew how important Sunday is to the Christian faith.

Do you?

May GOD keep us centered and devoted to Him,
Following the life path He has cleared,
Watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms
He laid down for our ancestors.

(1 Kings 8:58 NLT)

In the madness of modern life which has little or no sense of natural and divine rhythm, the Sunday gathering of the saints is a kind of spiritual defibrillator to reestablish holy rhythm.

It’s all about rhythm.
Life, health, physics, strength, art, beauty, devotion, worship…
They all require rhythm.

Disrhythm is disease.
Disease of the body, the soul, the mind, the spirit, the culture.
Jesus restores rhythm.

The etymology of rhythm is from the Greek rhein: to flow
Rhythm makes life flow.
Jesus flows with rhythm.

In the Hebrew rhythm is related to tambourine.
Then Miriam the prophetess took a tambourine
And led all the women in rhythm and dance.

(In this verse tambourine and rhythm are same word.)
Jesus is the Tambourine Man who leads us in the dance.

In the Message Bible Eugene Peterson gives us a rather loose, but spiritually accurate and deeply profound paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-29…

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

The unforced rhythms of grace.
To live light and free…
We must learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Jesus, teach us!
Jesus, teach us to dance.
Jesus, cast your dancing spell our way,
We promise to go under it.

Think of life as rhythm.
Think of faith as a dance.
Think of Jesus as the Tambourine Man.

Find the rhythm of grace…
And dance!



Jesus really is the Tambourine Man.
Even if the poet didn’t understand the prophecy at first.
Poetry is close enough to prophecy
That poets don’t always know when they are prophetic.
G.K. Chesterton said something about this…
About poetry being the loftiest form of knowledge.
(I think it was in The Everlasting Man.)

Mr. Tambourine Man
Bob Dylan

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.

Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin’.
I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’, swingin’ madly across the sun,
It’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin’.
And if you hear vague traces of skippin’ reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it’s just a ragged clown behind,
I wouldn’t pay it any mind, it’s just a shadow you’re
Seein’ that he’s chasing.

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.