Everyone loves it when the bunting comes out, joy is in the air and it’s time for the celebrations to begin. Most people know when and what to celebrate from the smallest to the biggest of reasons. What have you celebrated recently? Anniversaries, rites of passage, achievements, memorials or perhaps just being alive! Life is certainly richer for celebrating with others good things in their lives or perhaps your own.
- ‘Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words’ – Plautus
- ‘Life is too short not to celebrate nice moments’ – Jurgen Klopp
- ‘Celebrate your successes. Find some humour in your failures’ – Sam Walton
- ‘It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure’ - Bill Gates
As you reflect on your life, which celebrations stand out for you? Are there things that you didn’t celebrate that you wish you had? Different cultures celebrate different things in different ways – buildings made of ice in China, flowers blooming in Japan, beer festivals in Germany, umbrella street displays in Portugal, colour in India, water fights in Thailand, throwing tomatoes in Spain, carnivals in Brazil, music in Vienna, floating lanterns in Hawaii, letting off fireworks in England to name but a few. We humans love to celebrate all sorts of things as the list could go on and on. The 2,500th Anniversary of the Peacock Throne is speculated to be the most expensive party in history. The Shah of Iran spent $90 million on the bash in 1971, which today is equal to over $516 million! The largest firework display consists of 810,904 fireworks and was held in the Philippines Arena at the countdown to 2016 New Year Celebrations - a display that lasted for 1 hour 1 minute 32.35 seconds, in the pouring rain!
- ‘Celebrate what you want to see more of’ – Tom Peters
- ‘Lord knows, every day is not a success, every year is not a success. You have to celebrate the good’ – Reese Witherspoon
- ‘People overcoming the odds is actually a really important part of humanity, and I don't think we kind of get to celebrate that as much as we should’ – Taika Waititi
- ‘I have to go on being a priest and bishop, that is, to celebrate God and what God has done in Jesus, and to offer in God's name whatever I can discern of God's perspective on the world around - something which involves both challenge and comfort’ – Rowan Williams
The joining of lives is celebrated in marriage, the arrival of a baby is greeted with joy and the life of a person is also often celebrated in their ‘Thanksgiving Service’. There is much to celebrate in our life cycle. Each day is a gift to rejoice in and every season brings something to be thankful for. Why do we celebrate? We are made in God’s image and he gives the lead with lavish displays day and night in the skies, with stunning gifts to every single human being each day – breath, friends, food, drink, mercy and love. Did you ever consider that the first miracle Jesus ever did was at a wedding feast and that each child of God is invited to his wedding feast at the end of this earthly dispensation?
- ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ – Romans 12:15
- ‘There is ... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance’ - Ecclesiastes 3:4
- ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son’ – Matthew 22:2
- ‘The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you”’ – Matthew 25:10-12
- ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear’ – Revelation 19:7-8
Perhaps the most wonderful celebration stories are told by Jesus. In each case, something has been lost but then is found. A shepherd loses one of his sheep but when he finds it again he throws an impromptu party with friends and neighbours. A woman loses a silver coin but after a long careful search, she finds it and also gives thanks with her loved ones. Jesus then makes a beautiful statement: ‘I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent’ (Luke 15:7). The longer final story is about a Father who loses a son to wild rebellious living but who comes to his senses and is restored to his Father resulting in a feast with music and dancing. The Father explains the reason for the party to the brother of the returning prodigal:
- ‘But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ – Luke 15:32
If you have tasted the grace of God and know his abundant loving mercy, you have every reason to celebrate too. When you first realised this grace was for you and you became alive to God through the work of Christ Jesus, great celebrations broke out in heaven. You have been invited to the big celebration and will be given the right clothes, for only those wearing them will be allowed in.
- ‘Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God”’ – Revelation 19:9
So keep on celebrating and keep on inviting others to the party because God wants a full house and has a great celebration lined up.
TAGS – forgiveness, assurance, thanksgiving, rejoicing, predestination, glorified, overflowing