PART # 3 - For the past four years we as a district have worked with our current vision / mission statement. We have measured all ministry by these few words,
"Proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ ...
through our Unity, our Celebration, our Sharing...
and thereby making disciples of Jesus Christ
for the Transformation of the World."
CELEBRATE! PARTY!! Let's get crazy and show our enjoyment of life and of our God!
That's how I have looked at Sundays and our time of worship. Sundays at 11:00 (or 8:15, 8:30, 9:15, 9:30, 10:30, 10:45 or 5:05). We are gathering to celebrate the love of our living and loving God. We come together to lift up the name of Jesus our redeemer. We join as one body to invite the Holy Spirit to have God's way with us. Something this big, this exciting, and this powerful must be a celebration!
Worship is our gift back to God for all God has done for us, in us, and through us. Worship is a time to remember and to move forward in faith. Worship is where we cut loose and give our all and our best to God Almighty. Such worship MUST be a celebration!
I love visiting in the churches of the Atlanta Emory District to experience the different opportunities of worship. I can tell a great deal about what we believe about God by the way we worship. We have celebrations that are very traditional. The best offered to the Triune God in creeds, liturgies, choral anthems, and the procession of the light of Christ, offering to God our celebration of salvation. We have celebrations that are very laid back. Singing those old Cokesbury songs and passionate preaching show a celebratory people. We have celebrations that rock the house. Getting people to clap and dance and sing as bands ring it out, using media that is eye and heart catching. These, too, celebrate a current God who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
What do we as pastors put into this hour on Sunday? It must be our best in the way of participatory worship, and it must be the best of our preaching. We must never forget that first we are called to share the Word of the Loving and Living Christ. We must expect the best, the most excellent form our worship staff and choirs. This is God's hour, and it is our gift to God. Any less then our best is an offering of leftovers.
This is one of the reasons that when we gather as a district family we will worship in the best of our celebratory heart. I love to create worship experiences so that you might have the opportunity to be the participant and lift up your hearts to God.
BUT ... our celebrations are not confined to Sundays at the appointed hour. We must celebrate our God and the life given to us in Christ Jesus every moment of every day. I know that is near impossible when things are not going our way and there is pain or hurt in our lives, but Paul reminds us to "rejoice, again I say, rejoice in all things (in all times)." It is a practice of faith and trust that no matter what the day brings us, the Maker of that day is due our celebration, our worship. Yes, celebrate and party every day as Jesus is present and seeing us through all situations. At the darkest is where we should be celebrating and worshiping our Savior, because, no matter what, He will see us through.
As clergy and laity we are called to celebrate and to know that people will see one of two things: that we are a crazy bunch of folk, or that the love of Jesus Christ compels us to celebrate and live in worship day to day. Regardless, it will bring a smile to their hearts, I believe, and Christ will have a way in with His everlasting love.
Through our celebrations ... proclaim the love of Jesus!
Let's party this Sunday!!