We celebrate …

So, yesterday we marked Labor Day, one of the quieter ‘holidays’ in my calendar, not a big family day, no universal rituals. Originally, the day was one to honor ‘ordinary’ workers in a time when work conditions were often dismal, dangerous, and deadly!  For most of us, the day has become the unofficial end of Summer. Some have started back to school already, but many districts will start today or tomorrow. Labor Day is behind us and we are looking towards Thanksgiving, perhaps even Christmas.   

No matter the culture, people track time, remember key dates, make certain days of the year special.  I think we do it to stay on track, to reconnect with the past, even as we press into an unknown future.  Healthy families mark birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and even the dates of the deaths of loved ones.

So, why do we celebrate the passage of time with regularity?   
These days help us set an identity that defines us in our chaotic world.

An important part of our Christianity is fixed in ‘remembering.’ 
We take the elements of the Body and the Blood to lean into the Covenant of God’s Grace. It is not that we worship the past. It is wrong to think that everything good happened yesterday, or that all that is important is now past. 

God continues His work in us and in our world. He desires that we are alive to the Spirit, ready to do the work to establish His reign in the world, defeating sin and death by living the Gospel, pushing back fear with faithful hope, loving so powerfully that hatred is swallowed up.  It is hard work, often threatening to destabilize us.  That is why Jesus told us to gather and remember, to strengthen the foundation of faith. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20, NIV)

There is great encouragement to be found in celebrating memories of the faithful, gone before us.  
How does the ‘faith chapter’ of Scripture, Hebrews 11, teach us?  With stories that remember … “by faith, Abraham … by faith, Moses … by faith, Joseph … by faith, Rahab … David, Samson.”  We are inspired by the telling of their stories. 

I love to read the accounts of Christians in biographies. William Wilberforce and John Newton labored for 20 years to bring slave trade to an end in England. Wilberforce adopted a spiritual piety in spite of wrestling with some inner demons. 

Among my modern heroes of faith are Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, he a martyr, she a steadfast teacher and writer who labored on after his death.  During a time of spiritual renewal in Judah about 400 years before the time of Jesus, we read this: “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.” (Malachi 3:16, NIV)

Ah, my friend, take time to recall the faithfulness of God to you, too!  When life gets busy or turbulent, when many things converge to make us weary or discouraged, one of the things we can do is to take some time to remember and count our blessings. Jeremiah’s words remind us to recall and rejoice. “His (the Lord’s) compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24, NIV)

So, as we tuck the Summer of ’22 into the history books, let’s set some good memories in place that will serve us well as we walk into the future.  

What can we celebrate as success and give thanks? 

What failure has a lesson or two for us?

Who has walked the road we are walking
before us who can help find our way?

How has God shown Himself faithful to us, to others,
that builds faith for this moment in time?

Richard Foster, one of those who has shaped me spiritually, says that celebration is a discipline, a choice that we make to find the Spirit’s life. He writes ‘Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees.’ 

Think on that, my Christian friend, and then find people, places, and events for which to be thankful and joyful.  Get over yourself enough to toss off your polite reserve and sing or dance, to throw a party, to pour out holy praise. Yes, celebrate for those celebrations and memories are a source of strength for the journey that includes struggles and trials. 
Can I get an “Amen?”

The word from the Word for today – “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:14-16, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

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Alabaster Box

The room grew still
As she made her way to Jesus
She stumbles through the tears
That made her blind
She felt such pain
Some spoke in anger
Heard folks whisper
There’s no place here for her kind
Still on she came
Through the shame that flushed her face
Until at last she knelt before His feet
And though she spoke no words
Ev’rything she said was heard
And she poured her love for the Master
From her box of alabaster

I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s alabaster box
Don’t be angry
If I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His love all around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box

I can’t forget
The way life used to be
I was a pris’ner
To the sin that had me bound
I spent my days
Poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box
I thought I found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul
With the wonder of His touch
So now I’m giving back to Him
All the praise He’s worthy of
I’ve been forgiven and that’s why
I love Him so much

I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s alabaster box
Don’t be angry
If I wash His feet with my tears
And dry them with my hair
You weren’t there when my Jesus found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil
Oh you don’t know the cost of my praise
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box

Janice Lyn Sjostrand

© 2004 Little Pooky’s Music (Admin. by Pure Psalms Music, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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