Altar Call Ė Opelika-Auburn News
April 26, 2015
at its best is a celebration
God willing, I will be in Demopolis, Alabama, enjoying a homecoming celebration
with the good people of the First United Methodist Church. I was their pastor
forty years ago.
It will be good to be back in
Marengo County sharing exciting worship, spirited singing and good food with
some fine folks. They plan to open a time capsule buried 50 years ago, and hopefully
I can keep most of them awake with a decent sermon. †
is good for the body and the soul. I like to celebrate. I learned how from my
Mama. She loved birthday parties. Every time anyone in our family had a
birthday, we had a party. Mama would bake a cake, light some candles and dish
up some ice cream. Usually we would find in the cake a nickel or a dime wrapped
in wax paper. Celebrating birthdays was part of the rich legacy Mama left her
children. Even in her nineties, Mama could remember the birthdays of a hundred
family members and friends.
people have always been celebrative people. Before the time of Jesus the
Israelites gathered in joyful festivals of worship to celebrate the mighty
deeds of God. Christians learned how to celebrate from their Jewish ancestors.
We celebrate Godís mercies. Worship
at its best is a celebration of the grace of God. We give thanks that God loves
us in spite of our sins. We give thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus, and for the
salvation made possible by his death and resurrection. We give thanks for the
Lordís comforting presence and his guiding hand in the daily struggles of our
in painful repentance we seek His 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 whole.Ē
is refreshing to see the golden thread of celebration throughout the Bible. For
example God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to inspire the Israelites to
finish the temple. Ezra, another prophet, described 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 in Egypt. That was followed by a
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 repentance.
of this was a joyous experience in lively worship. With glad and grateful
hearts the people lifted their voices to praise the Lord for his unfailing
mercy. The Bibleís Book of Psalms, though written years later, helps us
understand the songs Godís people used in their worship celebrations.
Christians gather for worship we have even more reason to celebrate! Our joy
should know no bounds. In the fullness of time God sent his Son to die for us,
ďwhile we were yet sinners.Ē We were shown great mercy!
the Third Day God raised our Savior from the grave. Because He lives, we too
shall live. We shall suffer, and we shall die, but we have within our breasts
the glorious hope of the resurrection! Because of Godís great mercy, we may
have peace with God in this world and the assurance of a home in heaven in the
next life. There we shall share the joyous presence of the living Christ for
we embrace this good news, worship can never be dull and boring again! The
awareness of Godís mercy is reason enough to make worship a lively celebration every
Sunday. Pastors should be ashamed to offer people humdrum worship. Every
pastorís message should vibrate with passion and enthusiasm that says to his
people, ďHave I got good news for you!Ē
worship should begin with music that stirs the soul, not tedious music that
sounds like a funeral dirge. The musical prelude to worship should not cause
people to wonder when they are going to bring in the body of the deceased.
the early Christians were often persecuted, they left us a great legacy. They
knew how to celebrate in worship! With so proud a legacy, we dare not offer
people a watered down, milk toast kind of unexciting worship. Genuine worship
that celebrates the mercy of God will move people to get on their knees in
thankful adoration. †+ †+ †+