Let’s Celebrate!

Author: Pastor Don McFarlane
January 31, 2019

Last Sabbath we celebrated ten years of service by Charles A. Tapp as Senior Pastor of Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church. This celebration was equally for his wife, Maureen, who has been a source of inspiration, encouragement and comfort to many. Some may be tempted to ask the question, why celebrate? The first answer that comes to mind is, we celebrate because it is biblical.

A salient feature of the Old Testament is the celebration of various milestones and events by God’s people. In reading through the Old Testament, one could easily get the impression that the Children of Israel would use any excuse to have a party or a celebration. When the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt following the exile, the people had a massive party: “Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.  And the sons of the singers gathered together from the countryside around Jerusalem…” (Nehemiah 12:27-29, NKJV).

There were times when God invited His people to throw a party and provided them with the means to do so. If you think I am kidding, look what Deuteronomy 14:24-26 (NKJV) says: “But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.”
Of course, Deuteronomy 14 is not providing us with license to use the Lord’s tithe on whatever we want. Here God is telling His people how He wants His money to be used.  

In 1999 the South England Conference, of which I was the leader at the time, rented the Royal Albert Hall one Sabbath and celebrated two thousand years of Christianity. As you can imagine, we paid a pretty penny for the freedom to use that historic facility, but the memory of the occasion is as fresh today as it was twenty years ago. Hearing a congregation of five thousand sing as one in praise of Jesus and a two hundred-voice mass choir filling that special space with sublime cadences was faith-affirming and spirit-elevating.

Am I the only one who believes that celebration ought to be added to fasting, prayer and meditation as spiritual disciplines? Celebration breaks up a life of routine, re-energizes the spirit and refocuses the mind. Annual times of celebration, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are necessary for this purpose. But we don’t need to wait for these seasons to celebrate, we can find reasons in our home, at our workplace, in church or in our community to celebrate. A family, a church or a community that celebrates often is more likely to experience a high degree of joy that one that doesn’t.  Joy helps us heal when we are sick and has been proven to help ward off certain diseases. No wonder the Wise Man said, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Prov. 17:22). A cheerful heart is not just good medicine for us, it is also good medicine for those with whom we come in contact.  Our cheerfulness, our joy and our life of celebration will encourage the faith of others. “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13). Let’s celebrate!

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