Tuesday, October 27, 2020

We Can Still Celebrate


    Two major seasons are before us. Thanksgiving and Christmas (to include Advent). I should add the third: COVID-19 (sorry). Life continues on even in the midst of a pandemic. We are called to the abundant life, so let’s celebrate.

    This isn’t our first epidemic, hopefully it’s our last. Catastrophes have always touched our lives. “Death has come up into our windows, it has entered our palaces, to cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the squares.” (Jeremiah 9:20). Much is at work to thwart the good that God has for us. I want to encourage the people of God to lean into Jesus and celebrate our relationship to God through Him. Consequently, life will be led to celebration. Many of us have been celebrating the ability to gather again weekly and worship together. Something we may have taken for granted.

    This year will be different indeed. The goal is the same but this year will be hard for many to celebrate. One Hundred and sixteen families from our community will be grieving the lost of loved ones due to COVID (usafacts.org/Clay County, Florida Coronavirus Cases and Deaths). What should our relationship to these people be? Should we celebrate amid such loss and pain?  

    I still wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! We will celebrate Thanksgiving, and seek to instill “an attitude of gratitude” within ourselves and our families. Merry Christmas! It can still be merry. We will celebrate Christmas; we must give praise and thanksgiving for the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. We must sing with joy in thanksgiving for the new thing God is doing through Jesus Christ. Yet still, this year’s celebration will be different. “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4). We do live in a strange, foreign land, although the houses, the landscape, and the people are familiar. We who look for God’s coming already feel like strangers in a foreign land. 

   There’s something we resonate with in the apostle Paul’s words: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:29-30). God’s people know what it is to lament and struggle. Daily we observe a culture unaware of God’s life-giving promises, and we experience the reality of “principalities and powers” that defy God’s rule of life. But out of the gloom and fear, we still hear Isaiah’s invitation: “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5). Let us rejoice in the words of Charles Wesley, Rejoice, the Lord is King UMH 715:   

Rejoice, the Lord is King!

Your Lord and King adore;

Rejoice, give thanks, and sing,

And triumph evermore;

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

                                                        Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

In His Love

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