Celebration is part of what it means to follow Christ so let's look forward as a global mission family to this, our 125th anniversary year.
In the very moments when we lose ourselves in joy at what God has done, we are experiencing worship as image-bearers of God and we are a gospel witness to those who observe us.
In Exodus 5:1, we find the first indication that God wants his people to celebrate and hold festivals.
God spoke through Moses to Pharaoh saying: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go that they may celebrate a feast to me in the wilderness.’”
Later, the very first command from the Lord the night he delivered them from Egypt was to stop and hold a festival before they took another step and this was to be done for ever. In Exodus 12:14, God commands the Israelites: “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.”
Jesus described the response in heaven to one sinner’s repentance on earth using words that convey a great celebration: “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Untold numbers of people have repented of their sins and turned to Jesus directly and indirectly because of the work of SIM.
Celebration is a natural rhythm in the life to which God has invited us, both in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus' very first miracle was performed at, and on behalf of, a wedding celebration.
While we no longer observe the Passover, we still rejoice and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. We celebrate baptism and the Lord’s supper.
We are a people who should be known for our capacity and readiness to celebrate because we serve a God who makes a habit of giving us great joy.
So, why do we celebrate?
Like the Israelites and the early church, we celebrate to acknowledge as a community that God is performing amazing acts in and for us, bringing life and love in place of death and disease.
We celebrate because God answers prayers, removing barriers to places where many still live and die without his good news, bringing lush fruit out of the dry ground.
We celebrate because over the past 125 years, at times when all was dark and uncertain; when bombs fell or earthquakes shook; when floods rose or famine spread; when mobs approached or friends fled; when persecution deepened or imprisonment lengthened; when falsehood dazzled or the truth dimmed, when seasons of discomfort tempted us to doubt; in all of these, God did not fail us.
Today, the church thrives in countless places once considered hopeless.
With trust in God, our workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder today with believers in places where religious extremists rampage.
Why do we celebrate? We celebrate because celebration restores, revives and prepares us. We celebrate because the work itself is not the highest goal, and we remind ourselves of this when we set it aside.
We celebrate not because our past is sacred, but because the God who was present and active with us in the past is sacred and is the same today and forever.
Like the psalmist, we can say: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; To declare your loving kindness in the morning and your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by what you have done, I will sing for joy at the works of your hands.” (Psalm 92: 1–4)
Please join with SIM and celebrate our God in 2018!