This week we will hold our annual Celebration Sunday, with joyful worship and fellowship. I believe that this particular Sunday embodies a very important part of Church culture that we sometimes overlook. Celebration is a valuable Spiritual practice that we sometimes fail to engage in.
At times, I think we are hesitant to do any celebrating because we are accustomed to the worldly practice that it is often self-righteous or boastful. In the Christian mindset celebration is a completely different thing. Celebration is about recognizing blessings in our lives and thanking God.
How is it then that we should celebrate in the church? Our celebration Sunday is a great example of how we should go about celebrating. During our worship we will, thank teachers, recognize graduates, and this year, we will honor Donna Teepe, our retiring Preschool Director. In the worldly understanding of celebration, it would take the form of recounting the hard work of the individuals and heaping accolades on them for their accomplishments. While this is a critical aspect of our Christian celebration, it can’t be the only aspect. We should take time to talk about the dedication of Sunday School teachers who prepare week in and week out for classes. It is good to give positive encouragement to our Seniors as they have stayed the course and reached graduation. It is also important that we truly show our appreciation and admiration to someone like Donna Teepe who has led a long term ministry such as our Preschool. Yet, as Christians we know that this isn’t enough. In fact our spirits long for something more.
In our worship, celebration is also, or perhaps centrally, about the work God has done in and through the lives of those we celebrate. In a world that has inculturated us to ascribe success to our own abilities, it is important that we take every opportunity to recognize that God is the author of all good. When talking about salvation, Jesus said,
“Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.” 25The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?” 26Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” (The Message Matthew 19:24-26)
Normally this passage talks about possibility. Eugene Peterson in The Message talks about having a chance. I particularly like his words, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself.” We are reminded in Scripture and in our daily experience that without God, we aren’t able to accomplish good, yet God can through us.
I am truly thankful for all that God has done through the people of our congregation. Everyone, including teachers, students, singers and leaders, have been a blessing in this place, by the grace of God. Of course they have to open themselves up to the possibility that God can work through them. Each person who is recognized during our Celebration Sunday has in one way or another said, “YES!” Nevertheless, it is the power of God expressed in their lives that we are truly celebrating during worship.
This may lead us to wonder, “How do we recognize the blessings of God on a regular basis in our lives?” It is one thing to designate a day to thank God for blessings. The challenge of the Christian life is to make this a perpetual celebration.
- How are God’s blessings making things possible in your life?
- How do you thank God for those blessings?
- Do you ascribe your success to God or yourself?