Tag Archives: party

Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over

You may have heard of the young Catholic monk who was assigned to copying ancient manuscripts in the cellar of the monastery library. He worked tirelessly, straining his eyes and consulting lexicons and dictionaries to correctly transcribe and translate each parchment. He climbed the stars each evening exhausted and ink stained.  His brothers began to worry about him.

Then one day they heard a blood-curdling scream rise from the cellar. They rushed to the top of the stairs. The young monk raced up and dropped to his knees on the top stair. With a strength powered by anguish, he tore his robe and wailed, “The word is ‘celebrate,’ C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E.”

All the other monks dropped to their knees and wept with him.

A motto that can sometimes describe how many of us view and live the Christian life is the one sports announcer Don Meredith sang near the end of many Monday Night Football games, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

Yet, God spends a lot of time mandating his people to  celebrate feasts, festivals, celebrations, and–well–parties.

Are we guilty of thinking that the faith life amounts to turning out the lights and shutting down the party? I know at times I am.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Chronicles 31:1-36:23

1 Corinthians 1:1-17

Psalm 27:1-6

Proverbs 20:20-21

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Chronicles 31:1-36:23: To a large extent Israel has ceased to follow and serve the Lord. And in consequence God allows other kings and nations to rule and subjugate them. This brings up an age-old question, why would anyone choose to serve lifeless objects and ideas rather than the living, loving Lord of all? The answer lies in the heart of each of us.

But Chronicles ends hinting that even when we give up on God, God does not give up us. If God’s people will not respond to him, Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia will. The story is is not over.

1 Corinthians 1:1-17: 1 Corinthians is a misunderstood and often misused book. It has become a modern proof text for and against–mostly for–belief in miraculous spiritual gifts. Not to mention 1 Corinthians 13 becoming the most common wedding reading. But that is only scratching the surface of this brilliant, painfully honest–sometimes brutal–letter to the church that had formed and was struggling to define itself in the ancient Roman city of Corinth.

If not filled with wedding poetry and descriptions of other worldly gifts, what is this letter all about? Paul lays it out in verse 13 of chapter 1. “Is Christ divided?” he asks the Corinthian Christians. Thus is the underlying message of this letter. Our sister and brotherhood in Christ unites, not divides.

Paul addresses several divisions the Corinthians boasted of. As we read through this letter, let’s ask what as the modern bride of Christ, we have learned or failed to learn about unity in Christ. What divides us today?

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Christianity and Judaism have long been accused of being monkish, dour and dreadfully serious. And rightly so. Not only have both faiths fostered movements such as the ancient and desert-bound Essenes and the somber new-world Puritans, but we are dealing with real life and death issues, not to mention life after death issues. This is rather serious business.

Yet feasts, festivals, and parties comprise a large part of what God expects his people to do together. Old Testament worship is often prescribed and described as celebration. Can you imagine how bustling and noisy and alive was worship in the days of the Tabernacle and Temple? Kids, fathers, mothers, soldiers, shepherds, birds, goats, priests, smoke, bells, songs, laughter, shouting, and teachers mingled in the courts all seeking God and his forgiveness. Compare that with our often silent, meditative, somber approach to worship.

It’s as if we are saying, “Shhh, God may be napping.”

Jesus seems to advocate this party mentality too. He describes heaven and the kingdom as a party. And despite our erroneous portrait of him as some depressed British guy, Jesus used humor often and moved comfortably in noise and celebration. He even threw a party for his last meal with his disciples. They did not eat only bread, nor drink grape juice.

This last section of Chronicles highlights this party mentality as well. Josiah brings Israel back to God and throws a Passover party. And it is an elaborate one. The whole nation is involved.

Then something we have seen before and very sad happens. Josiah and Israel stop celebrating. He is killed and the people turn away from God. Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

As I read this section, I wondered if there is not a correlation between our inability to celebrate God and our slow movement away from obedience to God. Laughter and noise and celebration, especially together with loved ones, are healing and motivating. Yet we consider these things frivolous.

When I was a new follower of Christ, as a teenager, I struggled to break away from the drinking and drug party scene. I had heard that Jesus went everywhere with me and when I was partying, he was there and was probably not enjoying the party. That was all true. But his lack of joy came from my self-destructive behavior not my desire to enjoy life and celebrate. Interestingly enough, I truly began to grow and live in my faith when I found a group of friends who knew how to love and celebrate God. We throw a mean party.

Today let’s turn on the lights, the party’s just started!

  1. What divides us today?
  2. What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Let’s Get This Party Started!

All too often, people who aren’t followers of Jesus equate the church with this hilarious scene from The Princess Bride. Unfortunately, we’ve done a good job of reinforcing the stereotype.

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After living in our home for a couple of years, our oldest daughter became friends with another girl in the neighborhood. When Anna told the girl where we lived, the girl replied, “Oh, you live in the party house.”

In the five years we’ve lived in our home, hundreds of people have joined us for various parties. Not potlucks. Parties. It helps that my wife easily takes on the role of being “the life.”

No one has ever called the police to shut everything down, but we do know how to have a good time.

When asked why we have so many parties, I respond, “We’re just trying to be biblical.”

Please join me as we delve a little deeper into today’s topic!

TODAY’S READING

Leviticus 22:17-23:44
Mark 9:30-10:12
Psalm 44:1-8
Proverbs 10:19

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Leviticus 22:17-33. Reading this section about God’s command to give him the best of the people’s flocks, rather than the leftovers, causes me to ask myself, Do I give God my best—or my leftovers?

But this also brings me back to Jesus, the only true, unblemished sacrifice. His once-for-all sacrifice enables us to experience an intimate relationship with God despite our blemishes and uncleanness.

Leviticus 23. Sacred assemblies were national gatherings of public, corporate worship (verse 3).

Since this chapter lists the religious festivals in the Hebrew calendar, I’ll give you a quick summary of their significance:

Passover commemorated Israel’s departure from Egypt, prompted by the last plague when the death angel “passed over” the houses of the Israelites, but killed the firstborn Egyptian males of every family and flock.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread marked the beginning of the barley harvest (March-April). Unleavened bread was made from the newly harvested grain without adding yeast and was celebrated as the first sign of coming harvests that year.

During this harvest festival, the people brought the Firstfruits of their harvest to the priest who then waved the sheaf of grain before the God to draw his attention to the sacrifice. This was an acknowledgement that their harvest came from God and belonged to him.

The Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost, was celebrated seven weeks after the beginning of harvest. The significance of the harvest and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2 is inescapable and exciting to explore.

The Feast of Trumpets commemorated the covenant between God and his people. It lasted ten days and concluded with the Day of Atonement, which observed God’s forgiveness of Israel. For good reason, it later became the Jewish New year.

The Feast of Tabernacles coincided with the final harvest in the Fall, just prior to the rainy season. The festival reminded the people of the forty years that they wandered in the wilderness. To take them back in time, they lived in booths during the seven day celebration.

Mark 9:33-37. Children in Jesus’ day had no rights. They were powerless, needy, and reliant on their parents. Jesus said that when we love people who will never be able to repay us—like little children—we’re really loving him.

Mark 9:42-50. This is a really challenging passage. In it, Jesus tells us to remove anything that might cause us to sin. While we can’t remove every temptation–for example, I can’t control the sales ads in the paper (if I’m a shopoholic)–I know I can do better at eliminating unhealthy influences.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Christians aren’t known for having a good time. In fact, the most fun some churches allow comes in a covered dish with tater tots on top.

But take a close look at the list of required festivals in Leviticus 23.  What does it tell us about God?

He likes to party. From my initial count, God required his chosen people to take the day off and celebrate a minimum of 31 days a year!

And God was just getting started.

Just look at Jesus. He performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding so the fun could continue. He was also known for hanging out with a pretty rough crowd at times (Mark 2:15). Undoubtedly, they were much more fun to hang out with than the Pharisees. In fact, Jesus said this about himself: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus surely wasn’t accused of being a drunkard for going to bed early on a Saturday night.

The early church followed Jesus’ example by regularly hosting love feasts. Rather than distribute a small paper-like wafer and a little cuplet of grape juice to partake of the body and blood of Jesus, the early believers held a community-wide meal.

All too often, it seems like the church is so concerned about not having too much fun that we guarantee we won’t have enough.

But this simply goes against solid biblical principles.

Of course, I’m not advocating wild drunkenness and carousing—God still wants us to live holy lives. But somewhere along the way, I think the church has forgotten how to have a good time.

We of all people, have something (and someone) to celebrate.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you agree that Christians aren’t known for having a good time? Why or why not?
  3. Why would God command his people to celebrate? Do you celebrate to the extent that God commands it? Why or why not?
  4. If you followed Jesus’ command to remove anything that causes you to sin, what would you need to eliminate?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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