Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Excessive Celebration

One penalty from Sunday's Superbowl has left me thinking. Green Bay's Nick Collins made a touchdown and then bowed down on his knees while lifting his hands in the air. He was overcome with excitement as most of us would be if we scored a touchdown in the biggest game of the year. He was filled with emotion and lifted his hands - in praise? in excitement? in delight? It is a rather normal reaction and yet Collins was penalized for these actions. His team suffered as a result of him lifting his hands in the air while kneeling.

Later in the game another player was found kneeling in the end zone. This time it was Greg Jennings. Jennings knelt down and then also bowed his head. He did not get penalized. Apparently it is okay to pray after scoring a touchdown but it is not okay to praise - to express jubilant celebration.

I posted on Facebook Sunday night how I would love to be accused of excessive celebration. Seriously, I would love to be the kind of person who is judged not for being uptight or wound up but for being filled with joy - celebration - wonder - delight.

One of the best descriptions of the church is found in Acts 2. Here we are told of the disciples' actions and how these actions were filled with joy. "Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved" read verses 46 and 47. There is an abundance of praise, worship, gladness and generosity in this passage. The people are filled with joy over what God has done for them through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. They are bending their entire lives towards God, sharing everything they have. They are celebrating...excessively.

I yearn for a life like the early disciples. I yearn for a church like the one described in Acts 2 - not the kind of place we dread going but the kind of place where we cannot wait to gather on Sunday mornings. I yearn for a community that is filled with joy - one that understands the great things God has done for us, leaving us no choice but to celebrate. We have so much to celebrate. We have so many reasons to be thankful. God has done great things for us. God's grace is overflowing throughout our lives. God's love is immeasurable - there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and nothing we can to do make God love us less.

We have a reason to celebrate excessively - with absolutely no penalty.


Anonymous said...

Does burning benches count as excessive celebration? ;) I hope there's some of that going on tonight on a certain West Campus quad. But more seriously, I really appreciate these words. I was just talking yesterday with Laura (Rodgers) Levens who is in the ThD program studying mission and evangelism. We were talking about the Course of Study class she's teaching this summer and in the fall, and about the ways she's trying to help pastors re-imagine "evangelism" as something beyond talking to strangers about Jesus. I said something like, "I never expected to write an 'evangelism dissertation,' but I'm writing on Acts because I want to help Christians read the Bible in a way that helps the church to be a community in which its members will want to invite all their friends to participate." So I say AMEN to excessive celebration, because the most wonderful thing beyond imagination has happened to the church: The God who created the universe has claimed us for all eternity. Wow.

Anonymous said...

I meant to sign my name after that last comment, but accidentally posted it without signing...

Celia W