Just in time to become the topic of the new series for our Sunday night Bible class. With five days left to finish my first lesson, I’m still not sure exactly what the series looks like.
But I know it is supposed to be.
For our last series, “Ephesians: A Letter to Me,” I had my rear end kicked weekly as I felt the responsibility of feeding a room of mature Christians. I attended church in the womb, grew up in a Christian school and attended a Christian college and found things in the book of Ephesians I had never seen before.
And I loved it.
It’s a growth process, this becoming a teacher thing.
When there are discouraging nights or attendance is low, there are a couple of things I cling to: 1) The message is God’s, not mine. 2)Jesus did not play the numbers game. A dedicated few is better than a half-hearted many and sometimes empty seats mean that those who are no longer there are being used elsewhere.
That’s the meat of this new series.
Church is not (gasp!) the be-all and end-all of our existence. Like I said, I grew up in church. I’ve been there when the floor was picked out, spent the night there when a hurricane was coming, rang in many a New Year within its walls and timed the wait for Sunday dinner by the fourth verse of “Just as I Am.”
I sometimes have to remind myself that the Church does not exist within the church. The church is where we revive and party-plan.
- I’m really liking this.
Part of my studies led me to the celebrations of the nation of Israel. Did you know that the Jews celebrated seven major festivals, an additional feast every lunar month and the weekly Sabbath? After exile, they added three more holiday observances.
This doesn’t include the times that kings decided to throw a major party for no other reason than to honor God. Read how Solomon gave God glory in 1 Kings 8.
“At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven more days — fourteen days. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the Lord had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.” (verses 65-66)
It is easy to skip through the book of Leviticus, thinking it is all about rules, when there is quite a bit telling the Israelites how to celebrate. (Leviticus 23-25)
God loves us to celebrate Him.
“The young women will dance for joy, and the men — old and young — will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.” (Jeremiah 31:13)
This isn’t empty celebration though – treating life as one big party. We celebrate because we know Him and He is worthy of all honor and glory and praise. He died for us. We love Him because He first loved us. He is so amazing that when we get a grasp of that we just can’t keep it in.
- We celebrate to show off His glory. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
And, three verses down, we see that we celebrate to bring others to Him. “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
What does this celebration look like? What form does it take? I’m excited about finding that out!