By Christina Lewis
verb acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity. Commemorate, observe, honor, mark, salute, recognize, acknowledge, remember, memorialize, keep.
Today, as I write this, it is my birthday, and it has been a good kick-off to celebration indeed. On Monday night, I experienced the fellows tradition that is “birthday affirmations”. Each fellow stands on a chair (That’s right. Stands.) and one after the other says a “word” which reminds them of the birthday person and a “sentence” explaining why. Word and sentence are both in quotes because rarely are we ever able to say merely one sentence and often a word might be several words tied together with hyphens demonstrated by a mid-air stroke of the finger. It was overwhelming to be celebrated in this way, having my friends, one by one, call out good things they witness God doing in my life. I heard the echo of God’s kindness and love for me as His beloved daughter through the voice of friends and mentors, and that was incredibly sweet. When we notice and call out good in others, it tends to draw out of them even more good for which they were intended.
Additionally on Monday night at round table my peer group led a discussion based on a passage we had drawn at random from amongst some of the “one another” passages in the bible. We just so happened to draw Ephesians 5:19 which says, “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord”. The former music major and current worship ministry intern parts of me were especially delighted with the serendipity of the draw. We decided the best way to flesh out this passage was to draw upon several biblical accounts of worship through song. I would encourage you to do the same! There are numerous examples throughout the Bible, not to mention the 150 Psalms themselves. The ones we selected were the following: the Song of Moses and Miriam after God split the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-21); Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:39-56) sung after Mary and Elizabeth rejoiced together in the coming births of John the Baptist and Jesus; Simeon’s Song (Luke 2:22-38) after He sees the fulfilled promise of the coming Messiah, Jesus, in the flesh; and Paul and Silas’s song from Prison (Acts 16:25-40) sung just before prison chains would break, doors would open, prisoners would stay put, and as the Prison guard and his entire family would come to trust in Jesus because of it. Worship looks like this! Meeting with God, celebrating who He is and what He has done, and most often also doing so with others for the benefit of others.
Worship is a heart posture of adoration and celebration, but it can also be a lament, as my brother Russell reminded my peer group and the fellows group at large. Worship is always God honoring and should also be genuine. We must confront all experiences with honesty, and sometimes this calls for a Godward lament and for weeping. We must weep, and as we weep we can remember the hope we have. As the Psalmist puts in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
So friends, celebrate one another and call out good things that you witness God doing in their hearts. Be worshipful in lament and celebration alike through gospel-centered speech and song. And remember that, through all of life’s mountains and valleys, God is not only altogether worthy of our affection and songs, He is in fact Our very “strength...song…(and) salvation” (Exodus 15:2). He is our song!! The songbird’s lovely refrain, beautiful melodies in our heads, the vibration of our vocal cords, the breath in our lungs, the longing of our hearts and driving desire to lift our voices in song all come from Him, and He alone is worthy of our praise. He has given us much to celebrate, and His name is Jesus! Do you know Him? Will you celebrate?
Pictures from the Week