Advent Devotional 12/13: Party Time
I was checking out the web pages of the churches in our area. I happened upon the web page of Chinese Baptist Church of West LA. I had Google translate the page since it was all in Chinese. I noticed that there was a schedule of their worship services. Google had translated the heading for this section, I kid you not, “Party time.” So that's what Chinese people think of church!
What would it take for us to think of church as, "Party time?"
Think about the best party you ever went to. What made it a great party? Was it the people? The occasion? The food? The music? Think about what went into making it a great party. Who hosted? Who planned it? How did people contribute?
When the early church gathered, you can be sure it was a party.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46–47, NIV)
The church loved gathering so much that they did it every day. They gathered in the temple courts for worship and teaching. They gathered in homes for fellowship and praise. The excitement about God and what he was doing, and the love Christians had for one another was so attractive and compelling, that people were converting and being saved daily.
I don't think you can manufacture something like this. It started with the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. It caught fire through the transformation of people's lives as many were healed and delivered of oppression. It was fanned into flame through communal meals and fellowship. People were excited about God and the church, and that excitement was contagious.
The 5th step of the 8 Steps to 200 is to "make the Sunday gathering the best hour of the week." Or two hours, or three. It should be a party every Sunday, one that we all look forward to being a part of.
But this is not a worldly party. It is a sacred, sanctified party. It is special. When we honor God, praise him and set him apart as holy, that gathering becomes sanctified. The joy and excitement we feel becomes purified. Awe and reverence come over us as we enjoy God's presence and majesty. The sense of community is intensified as we love one another, and we realize we are all excited about Jesus Christ, the best thing to ever happen to us.
A good party is not just about the externals. It's about people coming together with a shared enthusiasm and sense of joy. And nowhere does this have the potential to be better than at church. Church should blow the socks off of the best party you ever went to, because Christians have the best reason to celebrate. We have God with us in Jesus Christ.
This is the kind of church we want God to transform us into. But the party starts in each of our hearts as God fills our lives with wonder and we respond with enthusiasm and passion. May Jesus give all of us the Spirit of Joy and unleash Kardia to be a church that celebrates to the fullest, every time we gather.
Father God, unleash the Spirit of Joy in my heart. Show me the wonder and majesty of your Son, Jesus Christ, in such a way that passion for Christ would ignite in my soul.
I pray for all my brothers and sisters at Kardia. I pray that every time we gather, whether for Sunday worship or in homes or small groups, we would be unabashed in our love for you and one another. Let our joy be contagious, and may you add to our number those who are experiencing salvation.
I thank you for giving us the space and time to gather every Sunday for worship and fellowship. Thank you for all the people who help prepare that experience; for the praise team, the AV team, the hospitality and refreshments teams, the children and youth ministries, and everyone else who help make that party happen. Bless all of them with more grace and anointing and satisfaction in their preparation.
Now, Lord, help me to bring a heart of worship every Sunday. Supercharge the atmosphere at church so that there is a palpable sense of your presence and power. Let everyone freely worship you in singing and prayer. Let your Word flow powerfully through the preachers. Take away every oppressive spirit, those that want to hinder our praise. Instead let there be freedom and complete confidence to worship you from the depths of our hearts. Fill your sanctuary with true worshipers, Lord.
In Jesus' name, Amen.