Monday, October 5, 2015

There’s a party going on right here

You have to read Esther chapter 8 to understand the jubilation that took place in the Persian kingdom when a new decree went out that would give the Jews permission to defend themselves against their aggressors. The first decree had set a date for their annihilation, and only 8 months were left until they would all be destroyed. But all of that changed in one stroke of the king’s pen. That’s when the party broke out. If Kool and the Gang had been on the scene, everyone in the streets of Susa would have joined them in singing, “Celebrate good times, come on!”

What a day that was. They had gone from sadness and fear, from sackcloth and ashes just a few months earlier, to “light and gladness and joy and honor.” I couldn’t help but think it might have been similar to Nov. 9, 1989, in Berlin, when the wall came down and there was celebration all night and into the next day. This celebration in Susa was like — on a much larger scale, of course — the Fox’s house two Saturday nights ago, starting at 6:25 p.m., when Mr. and Mrs. Isaiah Maher walked down the aisle as husband and wife for the first time. Applause and laughter led to singing and celebration and dancing into the night.

That was one of the things that struck me that day, as 300 of us gathered to witness the joyous occasion and celebrate it together: God’s people know how to celebrate something good and godly better than anyone else on earth. And it’s because we have that which makes for celebration better than anything else on earth. Here’s what I mean.

The joy that we shared at the wedding was not just for the couple, that God had brought a husband for Hannah, a man who chose Hannah to be his bride with the promise that they will walk together as husband and wife until death. On a much deeper level, we were celebrating the Gospel: God sent a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ for His people. He chose us to be His bride, with the promise that we will walk together with Him in this life, through trials and troubles and joys and celebrations. But that’s not all. The promise of God, almost too good to be true (but it’s not), is that we will also walk with Him through death into the next life, where there will be endless celebration. That’s why Jesus said to His followers, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

One more thought occurred to me at the wedding. His presence is magnified and on display when His people are together, as we were at the wedding and as we are every Sunday morning. We celebrated Hannah and Isaiah’s wedding with people we love but rarely see because they live in other states or they are involved with other churches. But that gathering in our backyard reminded me of the truth of Scripture, that all of us who belong to Jesus will one day sit down at the wedding feast of the Lamb. We will be reunited with our friends and brothers and sisters we knew in this life. But just as glorious, we will be sitting down together for the very first time with the brothers and sisters we never had the pleasure to meet on this side of heaven.

That’s a celebration that you don’t want to miss.

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