Welcome, for the next few weeks we will be exploring the concepts of hospitality and home as it relates to faith and fatherhood. Keep on the lookout for articles each week with fun dad stories and tough faith questions. Subscribe below. Today we ask a faith question: where is the Christian party?
The Best Party I Have Ever Been To
On my wedding day, there were a host of emotions, people, worries, joys, promises, and beauty. I appreciate all that my wife and her family put into the wedding. I did relatively little other than enjoy the party. And what a party it was. We danced, laughed, played and almost missed our drive to the hotel because we had such a good time. We stayed at our wedding reception far longer than most couples do because we had so much fun.
I still remember one of the older gentlemen from church breaking it down to the Electric Slide. Many of the attendees jammed out to the Cupid Shuffle. The food was awesome! Sure, my wife and I gulped it down so we could get to talking and thanking people, but it was awesome. We feasted on food, friends, family, dancing, and good music. All this fun led to a special comment from our wedding photographer who had been in the business for over a decade. “This is the most fun I have ever seen at a wedding, and you all haven’t had a drop of alcohol.”“This is the most fun I have ever seen at a wedding, and you all haven’t had a drop of alcohol.” Click To Tweet
That comment is one of the key memories from our wedding, other than the beauty of my bride. My wife and I grew up Church of Christ. Most people know the Church of Christ as the church that doesn’t do any instruments. You would still be correct. Instruments, alcohol, dancing, music, and other things non-church folk might call fun are varying degrees of taboo at church. We wanted people to enjoy our reception. Because we knew we would have a few conservative people at our reception, we decided no alcohol. Having no alcohol didn’t stop us from having fun because you don’t need alcohol to have fun.
You don’t need a lot of things to have fun, joy, and happiness. I just needed my bride and some tunes. We just wanted to dance the night away – which we kinda did.
The comment from the photographer still digs at me though. It shouldn’t be surprising that we had so much fun. We should have the same amount of fun all the time. Really, Christianity ought to be known for its fun. We are the only religion I know about where
The Biblical Party Primer
I am a nerd. I enjoy reading the Old Testament. Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Chronicles, and Ezekiel are some of the most exciting passages to me. God just always seems to jump off the page and into my life when I read the “boring sections” of the Bible. All that study though has brought to a few interesting conclusions about how unique God is, especially in comparison to all the other gods.
Most people don’t pick this up, but the first commandment God gave the Israelites was a party. The party is called the Passover Feast and it is wrought with meaning, discipline, and ritual. At the end of the day though it’s a feast which means it’s a party. Before the Ten Commandments, before the Levitical Law, before the counting, before the retelling of the law, there was a command to feast, to party. Before God gave us any do’s and don’ts He told us to party in remembrance of what he had done in the Exodus.Most people don’t pick this up, but the first commandment God gave the Israelites was a party. Click To Tweet
Now you might call that Old Testament or Old School, so what about Jesus in the New Testament? How many laws, or commands did he give us? Just one new one. He gave it to us during the party of the Passover. When you get together, feast and remember me. Today we call it communion. But, Jesus had a party in mind. How do we know? Two words.
Let those words sink in. Our hope is in someone who still lives, Jesus. We should be partying every week. So where is the party?
Where is the party?
Why is Christianity known for our solemnness and our rules and our don’ts? We should be remembered as the best partiers ever. Why? Because we don’t need to medicate to lower our inhibitions to have fun. We have real joy. The joy of a man who gets to be married to the most beautiful woman in the world. Christianity has real beauty. Not the beauty of going to bed with 10 and waking up with a 3, but a bride in her glory. Beauty is something to party about. We ought to dance and celebrate and enjoy our lives because Jesus did and does.
Christian parties should be epic in all the right ways. A
First, let me explain the parable with some 2019 license. The full version is here. In the parable, the younger of two sons comes to his father and asks for his inheritance. He essentially is forcing his father to sell off part of the farm and act as if he had died. The younger son takes the money and goes to Vegas.
Of course, he loses it all and picks up work as a
Older Brother Syndrome
We, church, are the older brother. We choose to not
Recognize the deeper level here too. We aren’t just missing out on the party. We are missing people coming home. Because we don’t party, because we are stiff-necked, because we spend our time in hustling judgement like the Pharisees – trying to protect our stake in the inheritance, we don’t even notice people coming home. People who don’t have homes.
Our entire culture and society have been set adrift because the Church has become inhospitable. The Church has become about building walls and legalizing morality. My generation can smell the dirty sweat of the hustled hypocrisy and taste the salty tears of those downtrodden by the C
My generation looks and we wonder why? Why is the church so concerned with the security of the United States? Jesus and the early saints cared little for the security of Rome. Why is the Church so concerned with LGBTQIA? I know I am a sinner. Even our paragon Paul claimed to be the greatest of sinners. It is hard to argue with him considering his past, but I think Paul was referring not just to his past but his present. Why is the C
We may be hypocrites ourselves, but we are going to do our best not to be. It’s not like there are many good examples out there. Most of the world legislate one way and lives another. Even the tech giants don’t buy what they are selling. Steve Jobs didn’t give his kids IPads until they were in high school several years after they were first released. The church cries foul in sexual sin of Bill Clinton, but shows little care for the sins of the current president or even inside their own walls. Atheist and Christian alike fight over legislation that they would never live by themselves. It is just more astonishing when the Christian does it because they have a clear example of what to do in the person of Jesus.
How many laws did Jesus legislate? He could have enacted any number of rules, but he stuck to just one. Remember me when you feast. The rest already existed. The greatest command is simply a distillation of the Torah, an echo from the prophets, and the failing of kings. Jesus wanted us to remember him not solely in solemnity but in jest-full jubilation. God always wants to be invited in, especially in the fun times. He isn’t the divine Genie of our problems. God is the playful practitioner of party and pleasure. The world is good to God. God named it thus in the beginning.
Where is home?
My generation of people has no home. We desperately want one and many of us still long for it, but our church home comes with so much hostility it has become no home. Our lack of a party, our lack of joy makes our churches inhospitable for our children. They are leaving in droves. We don’t celebrate the brother who is found. Really blow out celebrate it. We don’t celebrate much of anything because the celebration is all taboo. The movie Footloose is still relevant because we still haven’t figured out how to party well. We reserve celebration for the occasional well-planned wedding.
We ought to celebrate far more often. Easter is coming, a day, in my opinion, far more important than Christmas, yet receives far less honor. Pentecost, the second most important day, comes after Easter. When is the last time you had a Pentecost Party, an Easter Feast? Parties generate home and hospitality. We, Christians, need to remember our heritage of joy and parties, so we can welcome people home hospitably.
This series is about hospitality and home. It is about regaining our joy. It is about partying. This series is about becoming hospitable again instead of living in the anger and fear of our age. Church, we have something incredible to offer to these people who live around us. We don’t have to medicate to find joy. Joy and feasting and parties are our natural state. Every time we meet we have communion with God. Hallelujah!!!!! Let us dance before the Lord as David did. Without shame or covering but exposing our true selves. Let us be who we are called to be, joyful.
I didn’t just come up with all of this content out of nowhere. There are plenty of Bible references to be had, but a particular author has sparked my imagination. I have been reading and re-reading a new book by Pastor Terry A Smith called The Hospitable Leader. Smith is the lead pastor at a large church based out of New Jersey. How odd that a “Northerner” would teach me, a “Southerner,” so much about hospitality when hospitality is such a large part of my culture and upbringing. I am taking many of Smith’s ideas and applying them to my own life and situation. For me, home and hospitality
If a full life doesn’t interest you, or your full life has no room for home or hospitality, I understand. This teaching isn’t for everyone. That is why I wanted to give you the source of my inspiration and the invitation to join me. You get to choose whether you show up or not. You are invited to the party. See you Thursday for a story about my first night home as a dad.