Celebration is one of the hallmarks of the people of God. From the creation of the world, to the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, to the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity, to the birth of Jesus, to the good news in Jesus' teachings, to the resurrection of Jesus, to the gift of the Holy Spirit--God's people have been a people of praise and celebration in response to the mighty acts of God.
C.S. Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of Heaven."
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice."
After teaching on the need for obedience, Jesus told his friends that his aim was that they should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy: "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."
As Christians, we have greatly underestimated the necessity of joy. In Nehemiah 8:9-10, Nehemiah said to his grieving congregation, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.....Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
People who want to pursue joy especially need to practice the spiritual discipline of celebration. This is the primary reason that we see much emphasis placed on feast days in the Old Testament. Times of feasting were to be transforming experiences--just as times of meditation and fasting were. Celebration generally involves activities that bring pleasure--gathering with people we love, eating and singing. Spiritual celebration means doing them while reflecting on the wonderful God who has given us such wonderful gifts. When we celebrate, we exercise our ability to see and feel goodness in the simplest gifts of God. We are able to take delight today in something we wouldn't have even noticed yesterday.
So how do we pursue joy? Begin now. The psalmist says, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." He doesn't say, "Yesterday was God's day, let me rejoice in what God did." Nor does he say, "Tomorrow will be better, I'll just endure until then." This is the day the Lord has made, with all its shortcomings, I will rejoice and celebrate it! If we don't rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die. If we are going to rejoice, it must be in this day.
In preparation for Sunday, go wash your face in a bath of praise. Pick up your Bible and read Psalm 146, then join us on Sunday as we continue, not begin, celebrating the God of all creation, who just happens to be our Heavenly Father. Join us at 9:00am as we conclude our series titled, Brand New. Then stick around for our Concert of Prayer at 10:30am, as we take time to celebrate the faithfulness of God!
Let me close with James 1:17. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." I can't think of a better reason to celebrate!
See you Sunday.