There’s a party going on right here; A celebration to last throughout the years. So take your good times, and your laughter too, We’re going to celebrate your party with you, come one now.
Celebration! Let’s all celebrate and have a good time . . .”
You probably recognize the lyrics. It is the opening verse of the funk classic ‘Celebration’ by Kool & the gang’, and it is how I am starting my Easter Sermon this year. “Celebration” is perhaps one of the top feel good songs out there. Its musicality matches perfectly with the sentiment of the lyrics. If you know the song, I am willing to wager that you have the tune in your mind right now. It’s not hard to feel lighter, bouncier, and happier when you hear the dynamic horns and energetic piano. And how can you not smile at the beginning ‘Yahoo!’ of the track.
So why am I starting my sermon this way? Because it’s Easter and I believe Jesus wants us to party.
That’s right. Jesus wants us to party. It is Easter after all. This is not a dry day of solemn introspection. We just did that; it was called Lent. Rather, Easter is the day where the community of faith is called into being – where we are called to joyously fill the sky with our shouts of praise. This day the central day of our faith in which we are are invited once again to live out the good news of the resurrection. In a world so often defined by darkness and chaos, the empty tomb pronounces with funkadelic trumpets that God’s goodness and mercy triumphs over hatred and judgement. Death is swallowed up in victory, sin has been atoned for; and grace is breathed upon all. Easter holds before us, and the world, the foundational truth of scripture that Life, love, mercy, and forgiveness are the final words in God’s epic song.
This, is the reason why we gather together on this day. It’s the reason why Easter is a day of joy and gladness; it is why those who wouldn’t dare step in a church any other day of the year, will come on this day. It’s the reason why we uncover our Alleluia’s that have been buried for 40 long days, and why our releasing of that word occurs in exuberance and joy.
The celebration of Easter is not meant to be a silent celebration. We are reminded that everything good, holy, powerful, and loving that exists in that immense heart of God makes its way to you and I, and thus we live, this day, immersed in God’s Kingdom.
And guess what image is often used for God’s kingdom? That’s right. A party.
In his book, The Kingdom of God is a Party, Tony Campolo writes “. . .it is in partying that we know a little something about the kind of God we have. He is not some kind of transcendental Shylock demanding His pound of flesh; He is not some kind of deistic chairperson of the universe. He is a party deity. He loves a party. . . He wants his friends to celebrate with him.”
I wonder if sometimes we assume that celebration in the context of the church must be reserved in nature. Yet does holiness discount exuberance? Does the recognition of our salvation through the resurrection of our Lord necessarily discredit any and all excitement about our new life?
Easter is just a couple days away and I encourage us all to enter into it enthusiastically. Let’s infuse our worship with a sense of holy recklessness by which we let loose our thanksgivings and shout out our praises. Let’s take the world by storm and fully live out the kingdom in which we reside. If the church community is to be a foretaste of what life in the kingdom of God is like, let us make sure that we are showing the world that God’s kingdom is filled with life, passion, joy and celebration.
If you need a little help getting in the mood, here’s a little video to help you .. .