We just wrapped up an amazing church-wide campaign called Faith in Action with an exciting celebration Sunday. It was an energizing Sunday that began with a drum-line–in the Church service!–and ended with a quiet vespers service by the water.
The day generated some thoughts about celebration.
How we celebrate says a lot about us.
On our birthdays we set food on fire, spank the birthday boy or girl, pin a tail on a donkey, tear up beautiful paper, and smash piñatas shaped like small, smiling, multi-colored animals that have been gutted and stuffed with candy, confetti, and cheap toys which will—once the animal is popped open with a baseball bat—tumble out of the opened carcass onto the ground below to be devoured by crazed children, unless you’re my friends Terry and Tammy who didn’t realize that you had to fill the piñata with candy yourself, so when the poor kids at their daughter’s birthday party finally cracked the paper mache shell of that smiling multi-colored donkey the only thing that fell to the ground were a few pieces of confetti and the shattered dreams of a dozen preschoolers. And that’s just the destruction we routinely dish out in our birthday celebrations!
For Christmas we celebrate by killing a tree, bringing it home, covering it in lights, surrounding it with presents wrapped in paper made from other dead trees, forcing it to stand there and watch as we tear the paper—made from other dead trees—to shreds, and then—when we’re done with him—we take him to the side of the road to be thrown away with the weeds on yard-trash day.
A victory over a heavily-favored rival in football may result in the goalposts being pulled down.
When we win a championship basketball game we cut down perfectly good nets.
To give thanks we kill and eat a turkey making gravy out of his guts!
On the Fourth of July we celebrate by blowing things up.
I’ve wondered how cool it would be if we celebrated other holidays like we celebrate the 4th of July—Wouldn’t it be fun to blow up the turkey on Thanksgiving? Aren’t there some gifts (from your mother-in-law) that you’d just love to blow up on Christmas afternoon? And wouldn’t ground hog day be much more exciting if he blew up after seeing his shadow?
But I digress.
What we celebrate says a lot about us.
Celebrating after a wedding reveals that we love, love.
Celebrating a touchdown reveals that we love sports . . . and that we’re not Cleveland Browns fans!
Celebrating a birth reveals that we love life.
Celebrating an anniversary reveals that we love marriage.
Celebrating an election reveals that we love politics.
Celebrating Independence Day reveals that we love freedom.
Celebrating a winning lottery ticket reveals that we love money.
Celebrating a grand opening at Wal-Mart reveals that we love bargains—and that you’re my wife.
Celebrating the death of Darth Vader reveals that we love revenge.
Celebrating an “A” on our child’s test reveals that we love learning and celebrating Ground Hog Day reveals that we have no life!
When we celebrate also says a lot about us.
In Corinthians 15:57,58 Paul writes:
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
As Christians we need to celebrate at the appropriate times–worship service, at baptisms, during communion, when sending out and receiving missionaries, during offering, ground-breakings for new facilities, and at the end of church-wide campaigns–all the while never forgetting that there are still many victories yet to win.
We aren’t done.
We still have so much to do.
We must fight the urge to sit back and savor the victories prematurely.
Amy Beatrice Carmichael was a missionary in India who served for fifty-five years without furlough and authored many books about the missionary work there.
Amy Carmichael said this:
“We have all eternity to celebrate the victories but only a few hours before sunset to win them.”
I agree, so–as I celebrate the impact Faith in Action had on Christ’s Church and our community–I will fight the urge to store the noise-makers and confetti safely away and I will track down the contact information for the drum-line, because there are still more celebrations to come.