1 Chronicles 15:1, 25-16:36
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
When you think of the word discipline, do you think of deprivation? Self-denial? While it’s true that some of the spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, are considered disciplines of abstinence, more are considered disciplines of engagement. Scripture meditation and prayer, for example, enable our closer connection with God through study, rest, and communication. And then there’s celebration. Richard Foster wrote, “Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees” (Celebration of Discipline).
King David understood celebration. As he led the parade of elders, military commanders, and musicians accompanying the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord into the city of Jerusalem, he danced and celebrated. Once again, God’s presence would be in the city of David. That was something to celebrate! In fact, David celebrated so joyfully that he embarrassed his wife, who watched from a window. Not everyone is comfortable with such wild abandon—some even think it’s shameful—but joyful celebration is at the heart of our Christian faith. Announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, the angel of the Lord said, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Emmanuel, God with us. The presence of God, here among his people. Celebrate!
David also proclaimed the power of God. Remember, he said, God’s mighty acts, his wonders, his miracles, and his judgments. Remember his faithfulness to his people. He is a promise keeper, a rescuer, a savior and sustainer. Our God is a powerful God—celebrate! Jesus performed his first miracle, demonstrating his power over nature, at a wedding. He changed plain water into the finest wine, enabling the host to save face and the party goers to celebrate. Some people think that Christians should abstain from everything that non-Christians are free to enjoy, but Jesus clearly disagreed. Savoring the earth’s bounty is a simple way to honor God’s power and authority over all creation, which he made for us to steward and to delight in.
Finally, David glorified his prestigious God. Magnificent and holy, he is the creator, savior, redeemer, and sustainer of all, including us. The mountains bow down to him, and the seas shout his praise. The fields and everything in them rejoice, and the trees sing for joy before him. He is good, and his love and mercy are unconditional and never ending. He is our king, who for a time gave up his throne in heaven to take human form and come to earth to live among people, teaching and serving, until it was time for him to be sacrificed for our sins. No other god has ever given himself up to save his enemies. Even though we oppose him through our sinfulness, he still loves, forgives, and cares for us. His adopted children, we are forever saved from sin and death by his death and resurrection. We can celebrate with gratitude his goodness to us, for there is no other god like our God.
People have always lived in troubled times. If we follow the news closely or spend too much time on social media, we can become discouraged and even depressed about the world and the direction it seems to be headed. But Dallas Willard reminds us: “Celebration heartily done makes our deprivations and sorrows seem small, and we find in it great strength to do the will of our God because his goodness becomes so real to us” (The Spirit of the Disciplines). There is a season to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a season to dance. When it’s the season to dance, embrace it! Celebrate!
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (nursery care and children’s worship available) and stay for Discovery Hour (all ages, little ones through adults).