Monday, June 1, 2009

One of my favorite family traditions is our birthday celebrations. The honoree gets to pick the menu, and the dessert choice is always kept a secret. At the end of the dinner we all guess the dessert. We can’t eat it until we guess it! Sometimes we play silly word games or trivia that is connected to the honoree. There is much feasting, celebrating, and gift giving. We usually tell tales and remember days gone by. Jokes are shared and we laugh and laugh. It’s hard to imagine going through the year and not honoring our family members in a special way. It’s the way we commemorate the birth and life of our loved ones.

I just finished teaching one of my favorite books in the Old Testament, Esther, and learned about a very important Jewish commemoration. Esther, a beautiful young Jewish beauty was selected to be queen and then risked her life to save the Jewish people. All the Jews assembled after their victory against their enemies and celebrated with feasting and rejoicing. Chapter 9 of the book tells that the Jews “bound themselves, their descendants, and all who joined with them” to a commitment to celebrate the significance of the Jewish life at the same time each year. This commemoration, known as Purim, is still celebrated today and is considered one of the happiest days of the Jewish year.

A commemoration is a service or celebration in memory of some person or event. Do you know whose plan it was to commemorate? It was God’s. Read Leviticus 23 to see what God commanded Moses to proclaim to the Israelites as “sacred assemblies.” God called on them to set aside specific times of commemoration for Sabbath, Passover and Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles. God also told the Israelites exactly how to commemorate each day. The reason to commemorate was so that the Israelites would remember their history and would honor God.

I began to think this week about modern commemorations. We just celebrated Memorial Day and commemorated U.S. men and women who died while in military service. On Sunday we commemorated Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles. We celebrate many other events in the Christian Calendar including Easter and Christmas. How would Christianity be affected if we didn’t have annual commemorations? How long would it take until no one remembered the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus? Years? Decades? Centuries?

Many of us celebrate our Christian faith by attending worship services and Bible studies. These are weekly commemorations. What tends to happen to our Christian walk when we don’t engage in worship with fellow believers on a regular basis? What happens in our lives when we don’t have a regular time of Bible study or Christian fellowship or devotion? It’s important to celebrate our Christian heritage and commemorate our relationship with God. John Wesley saw the discipline of Christian ordinances as essential to a life of faithfulness to God.

Christian commemorations are important because they remind us of whose we are and they keep our relationship with God alive and growing. They’re also essential to the Christian faith as a whole.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture... Psalm 95:1-3, 6, 7


Leading Forward - by Templates para novo blogger