April 7, 2017

Celebration

People were created to celebrate. 
We celebrate at the slightest provocation.  Occasions for celebration run from private gatherings in honor of intimate events like the birth of a child to big family events like graduations and weddings to huge public celebrations like championships, inaugurations and coronations.  Human beings love to celebrate even when there is nothing to celebrate like young people celebrating nothing more than the weekend.

In the words of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof,

“God would like us to be joyful even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.
How much more can we be joyful when there’s really something to be joyful for?”

Is there a deeper significance to this human need or desire?

Without doubt—public worship should be a celebration.
The spirituality of the Old Covenant was marked by frequent and fervent celebrations:

  • The Sabbath was a weekly celebration of God’s covenantal faithfulness.
  • Three festivals marked each year with celebrations related to the provision of God through the hard work of His people.
  • Every seven years the land itself had a celebration of rest.
  • Every 50th year was supposed to be a year-long celebration called the Year of Jubilee.
  • The book of Psalms commands singing and playing music, rejoicing and dancing before the Lord in celebration of “His abundant goodness.”

In the Gospel narratives, celebration is at the heart of New Covenant spirituality as Jesus presented worship in Spirit and Truth.

  • Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Old Covenant feasts.
  • Jesus instituted the New Covenant feast of the Lord’s Table.
  • The Father of the prodigal son celebrated greatly at the return of his repentant child.
  • Jesus said the angels in heaven celebrated over one lost sinner who repented.
  • The book of Revelation describes a great celebration with Jesus as Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride.

Each Lord’s Day worship service should have a strong element of celebration in it.
Even if the Spirit is calling the church to solemn prayer, to “weep between the porch and the altar,” the prophet Joel said, we should also “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” as the Psalmist said.

As Palm/Passion Sunday approaches, let us prepare to celebrate His abundant goodness.  Let us gather together to celebrate the Lord’s abundant goodness.  Let us rejoice and be glad.  Why?  Because we were made for this purpose and because the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!

Scriptures

Exodus 23:14-16
Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.
Numbers 9:1-3
The LORD spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said,  “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time.
Psalm 145:3-7
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.   They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Luke 15: 10; 21-24
…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I will lay aside my burdens to free my hands so I can lift them to You in celebration. I will realign my calendar to make sure I give time to the celebration of Your loving-kindness. I will tune my voice to the sound of angels celebrating around Your throne. As I spend this day in celebration, You will inhabit my praise, strengthening me for the tasks ahead. Your joy and your truth will go before me and Your mercy and peace will follow me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Song:
I Will Celebrate

Words and Music: Don Moen

I will celebrate, Sing unto the Lord
I will sing to Him a new song
I will celebrate, Sing unto the Lord
I will sing to Him a new song

I will praise Him, I will sing to Him a new song
I will praise Him, I will sing to Him a new song
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelu, hallelujah!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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