Alter Call Ė Opelika-Auburn News
April 15, 2012
Worship at its best is a time of celebration
††††††††††† 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 whole.Ē
††††††††† 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 in Egypt.
††††††††† 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 repentance.
††††††††† 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!† +† +† +