Alter Call Ė Opelika-Auburn News
April 15, 2012
Worship at its best is a time of
††††††††††† My parents left me a rich legacy.
They taught me how to celebrate. Birthdays were important to my mother. She
believed in celebrating each one and always with a birthday cake that she made.
Even in her nineties she could remember the birthdays of a hundred family
members and friends.
††††††††† Family reunions were wonderful times
of celebration. We learned early on to value our inclusion in the Johnson
family, my motherís family.
††††††††† Long before Christ was born Godís
people were a celebrative people. The Israelites came together in joyful
festivals of worship to celebrate the mighty deeds of God.††††††
††††††††† Christians also celebrate. And like
their Jewish ancestors Christians celebrate the mercies of God. Worship at its
best is a celebration and primarily a celebration of the grace of God.
Christians give thanks that God loves us in spite of our sins. We give thanks
for our salvation. We give thanks for Godís comforting presence and for his
guiding hand in the daily struggles of life.
††††††††† Sometimes in painful repentance we
seek Godís forgiveness for our sins. We feel the joy of being forgiven and
restored to fellowship with our Lord. Tears of joy flow down our cheeks as
sing, ďThank you, Lord, for saving my soul; thank you, Lord, for making me
††††††††† Celebration is a constant theme in
the Old Testament. God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to inspire the
Israelites to finish the temple. They set the stage for the prophet Ezra to
describe the celebration that followed the completion of the temple. First,
with great joy, the people dedicated the temple to God. Then there was a
one-day observance of Passover, a remembrance of Godís deliverance from slavery
††††††††† Next there was the weeklong Festival
of Unleavened Bread in preparation for which the people threw away all their
leaven since it symbolized sin. Throwing out the leaven was a sign of
††††††††† All of this was a joyous experience
in lively worship. With glad and grateful hearts the people lifted their voices
to praise God for his unfailing mercy. The Bibleís Book of Psalms, though
written years later, contains many of the songs Godís people used in their
worship celebrations.† Christians even
sing some of the Psalms as they celebrate the new covenant that was sealed with
the blood of Christ.
††††††††† When Christians gather for worship
they have even more reason to celebrate Ė and with boundless joy. They realize
that ďin the fullness of timeĒ God sent his son to die for them while they were
still sinners. And that was no small mercy!
††††††††† A week ago Christians around the
world celebrated the resurrection of Christ. Believers are convinced that
because Christ was raised from the dead, they will live also Ė beyond the grave.
Though they expect to suffer and die as all people do, Christians believe that
because of Godís mercy a place in heaven is reserved for them. This hope
persuades them that the grave is not the end.
††††††††† That is indeed reason to celebrate.
Such hope is a great springboard to joy. This ďgood news,Ē the assurance of
Godís mercy, is reason enough to make worship a joyous celebration every
Sunday. If worship is dull and boring it is because those who lead it have
forgotten that it should be a time to celebrate Godís mercy for sinners.††
††††††††† The Israelites left us a great legacy and so did the early Christians. They showed us that worship at its best is a celebration of Godís mercy. And when you consider how great is the mercy of God,we shall be wise not to wait until Sunday but celebrate daily the mercies of God. They are, as Jeremiah said, new every morning!† +† +† +