Do you remember a time you celebrated something?
One of the most memorable times of celebration for me was in May 2014. To celebrate our wedding anniversary and my seminary graduation, my wife and I backpacked around western Europe. As the departure date neared, we found out we were pregnant with Cohen so our trip counted as our “baby-moon” as well. Besides Jess becoming nauseous to the smell of cheese, which did not help while in Italy and France, the trip was amazing. I remember as if it was yesterday as we visited some of our bucket list destinations. We watched the sunset and ate pizza in Cinque Terre, Italy. Walked the halls of the Vatican and looked up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Read Acts 17, as we sat on Mars Hill staring at the Acropolis in Athens. Took a selfie under the Eiffel Tower. Ate a churro while sitting outside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Being a coffee drinker, I even sipped a cup of tea by Big Ben in London. I have never taken 21 days off in a row before and never have since. But the momentous occasion needed us to deliberately pause our usual schedules to celebrate.
Now what about you? What do you like to celebrate? Do you jump out of your seat to celebrate a goal at a Canucks game? Do you decorate the house with balloons and streamers to celebrate someone’s birthday? Or do you cheer when your child is finally able to use the toilet on their own? No matter what it is, we are all wired to celebrate.
To celebrate means to mark something important and meaningful to you by festivities that are different than your routine. We celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, promotions. We celebrate milestones in life, from a baby’s first step to their first swim class. Celebrations mark very important moments in our lives. These moments mean something to us, has important significance for us, and help us to remember special moments in our lives.
This upcoming February 4th also marks a special time for celebration: our English Ministry’s 30th anniversary. We should be able to look back at this time and be filled with jubilation because this time, too, has special meaning to us all.
I am going to celebrate because I am reminded of God’s grace through the years. Though leaders did not feel fully equipped, by faith they started the English Ministry as part of God’s call, and here we are 30 years later. Those times when I thought our ministries would not make a difference or people would not show up, but then God moved hearts. Carrying only our Bibles and testimonies, we went into our community and overseas and saw people encounter Jesus. When I was weak, God graciously showed me His strength. When I did not know what to pray for, the Spirit gave me words. When I stepped out into the unknown, God was faithful because we witnessed awe and wonder together.
I am going to celebrate as I live in God’s faithfulness. All those times I have said “no” to Him, though He continually says “yes” to me. Those times when I have sinned in my brokenness, yet God still said “You are loved.” When I said “I don’t feel worthy to follow you,” He said, “as far as the east is from the west, so far have we removed your transgressions from us.” (Ps. 103:12) When I felt discouraged and struggled with my calling, He said, “Trust me. When have I ever let you down? Look at the Cross. Where can I lead you that I have not gone myself?” I am a product of God’s faithfulness.
I am going to celebrate because I continue to witness God at work in our lives. Due to people’s obedience to God’s voice, my faith and calling was affirmed at our church. Our God has filled and fuelled servant-hearted men and women with passion, love and care. God is filling people with faith as they read His Word and pray, believing God will use our community and outreach to move mountains. God is filling our church with people who desire to see God’s Kingdom come as they sacrificially give in anyway they can. This is the church that I am part of and this is our God in action.
I hope you understand that my experiences are unique to me. What I have experienced I know many of you have experienced as well. This is not my story, but this is our story. This is our song. So I hope you would agree that our God is worthy to be celebrated. We celebrate what is important. Everything we do as people of God is to display how God is important to us. If the church is meant to be a gathering of God’s people, then our churches ought to live out and represent this truth too.
Since we have witnessed God’s hand at work over the last 30 years, let us celebrate. This celebration, however, does not end on February 4. Our celebration of who God is choice we make every day. As we choose to celebrate who God is, we are joining the heavens and the beings of eternity past to eternity future.
How are we living out this goodness, grace, and faithfulness? How are you choosing to celebrate who God is in the every day?