“Show me what you celebrate, and I will tell you who you are.”
Alexander Schmemann, 1973. For the Life of the World
“If they want me to believe in their god, they’ll have to sing me better songs. . .
I could only believe in a god who dances.”
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
I hope you have blocked off Friday evening, October 14, for our All-Church Party! If you haven’t yet, would you be willing to take a step of faith and pencil it in today?
If you are new to Church of the Redeemer (or “COVID-new”), any lack of excitement, skepticism, or hesitation you might have about committing to attend “a Church Party” is understandable! I mean honestly, considering what Christians and church can be like, if you had to choose between going to the dentist or attending a “church party,” it would be fair for you to ask, “Is there a third option?”
This Sunday, we will be turning to Leviticus 23:33-44 to consider what God’s Word has to say in response to an appropriate question: “Why Should a Church Spend Money and Time to Celebrate BIG Regularly?”
Yes, it is true that ALL of the Old Testament feasts, festivals, and rituals were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (see Colossians chapter 2). Those Old Testament feasts, festivals, and rituals were wonderful gifts from God to his Old Testament people. But they were pre-incarnation “shadows” of the realities that we now know and experience each day and week due to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ in our walk with Christ and in/through the weekly worship, Lord’s Supper, and fellowship of the local church family.
And, at the same time, the God-ordained and commanded practice of feasting and celebrating that we see in the Old Testament is still instructive and illustrative! God wants his people, and commanded them, to devote time and resources to deliberately feast, celebrate, and party as an act of corporate worship and communal fellowship! Leviticus 23 shows us what it means and looks like for us to celebrate together his grace, his mercy, and his work! Consider this helpful description of those feasts by season of the year, and what our feasting/celebrating calendar would look like if we participated in all of them this year.
Yes, it’s true, the Session of Church of the Redeemer (the “Council of Elders”) decided to bring back the annual COTR All-Church Party this year in connection with their belief that it would be good to have a going away/retirement party. But the tradition of our church’s annual party is bigger than that/me – as is the Session’s decision.
Our All-Church Party is a time for us to deliberately and consciously celebrate the actual work of God. In order to prepare for that, and to do justice to God’s work, next week we will send out, as we have done each year in years past, a survey of questions for you to consider and answer with regard to God’s work in your and our lives together. Has God been at work in your life? Has he grown you, challenged you, or encouraged you? What prayers has he answered? Have you known his love, healing, or help through the body of Christ – our corporate worship and fellowship? Has he, in love, challenged you? Has he, through his Word, pierced your heart and soul? If he has, we must celebrate that! So, be thinking about those things and take some time to respond – honestly, but without false humility/cynicism – to the survey of questions when it hits your email inbox on Monday.
For this week, please take some time to read and reflect on all of Leviticus 23. Given time constraints, our main text of this Sunday will focus primarily on only verses 33-44. But please read and reflect on the whole chapter and consider how good, biblical, and necessary it is for you and your Church family to spend money and time to celebrate BIG on Friday, October 14 from 6:30-9:30PM.
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.
Yours in Christ’s love,