Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Ready to party!

WE’RE WELL AND truly into the party season, with Fall Festivals behind us, Thanksgiving turkey leftovers for the foreseeable future, then Christmas and New Year to come. Woohoo!

But as Christians, we’re not limited to holidays or Hallmark inventions to have an excuse to celebrate. Indeed, our orientation really should be that we are ready to have a good time at the drop of a party hat. Because, Proverbs 15:15 reminds us that “the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”

After all, celebrating is at the heart of gospel. Think about Luke 15, which contains those three wonderful stories about Jesus coming to seek and save that which is list—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal. Each of those events ends with festivities and the invitation to come and join in.

In verse 6, the shepherd calls his friends and neighbors and invites them to “rejoice with me.” In verse 10, the woman who finds the coin calls her friends and neighbors and invites them to “rejoice with me.” And in verse 23, the waiting father calls out, “Let us eat and celebrate.”

We shouldn’t be so surprised that salvation—finding—and celebration are intertwined in this way. Parties are threaded through the life and ministry of Jesus. His incarnation was heralded by a party in heaven that broke through into this world, startling the shepherds. His public ministry began at a party. Indeed, through His ministry His critics accused Him of being a reveler. And the end of this age will conclude with what? A party at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7). 

That’s probably why the call to rejoice echoes throughout the New Testament letters:

Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” First Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always.” Second Corinthians 13:1: “Finally, brothers, rejoice.” Philippians 31:1: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.”

What’s interesting to note here is that these admonitions have nothing to do with personality or situation. The call to rejoice is not dependent on how we feel or our circumstances, just as when we are called to love others it is not about having warm fuzzy feelings, but about acting a certain way. We choose to invite others into sharing the goodness we have experienced and received.

Now, there’s a place for the gifted evangelist, of course. But in one sense, sharing the good news is for all of us, in our everyday lives, as we invite friends and neighbors to come, rejoice with us. Indeed, that’s my story; that is how I came to faith… someone invited me to join him in rejoicing.

As I said when I spoke on this at church recently, I think our posture should be like we’re walking around with a confetti cannon locked and loaded (you can see the results at about the 49-minute mark here). In a day and age when Christians are so often known for what we are against, how refreshing it could be to be known instead as the celebrators—party people, not piety people.

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