Dear GCI Family and Friends,
I recently had the opportunity to visit a church in the Carolinas and give the sermon. The main passage in the Revised Common Lectionary for that day was in Luke 15. This chapter has three stories about lost things.
Whether Jesus was talking about a lost sheep, a lost coin, or a lost son, he masterfully wove these stories together with the theme of rejoicing and celebrating by throwing a party.
After finding the lost sheep the Shepherd says:
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost” (Luke 15:6 ESV).
After the woman finds her lost coin, she follows the same pattern:
When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost” (Luke 15:9 ESV).
And it’s even a bigger deal when the prodigal returns home:
But the father said to his servants, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:22-24 ESV).
The object of celebration in these stories is abundantly clear—the joy of a rescued sinner whose heart is turned toward his or her heavenly Father. And the earthly celebration is augmented by the party that is happening in heaven of the angels before the presence of Father, Son and Spirit. This is a good place to pause with wonder. When a person comes to their senses and understands their belonging as a son or daughter to the divine Father, that they are already loved and accepted in Jesus, and they take hold of this reality, the only response is to celebrate and throw a party.
In 2019, the regional gatherings in the U.S. are being called Regional Celebrations. Though the past conferences have been good and informative, we want to go beyond conferring and sharing information; we want to join together in a spirit of joy and to have a festive spirit of a God-honoring party.
As believers, we have more to celebrate than any other people on earth. The sense of rejoicing over our salvation, over the relationships we share in the community of the church, and over our enduring focus is that we anticipate the hope of the lost sinner being rescued and participating in the party that happens on earth and in heaven.
A Healthy Church is a church that regularly celebrates and throws parties over people who were lost but now are found. Let’s continue to celebrate the Good News.
Party on, Church!