There are times to mourn, and times to celebrate. Sometimes they happen at the exact same moment. Today I said hello to a newly renovated sanctuary and goodbye to our senior pastor and his wife as they are called across the country. Timing, right? But God does that…I helped them move out the same weekend I saw the new house of another pastor’s family for the first time. So what do you do? Enjoy the journey!
Paul had a strong emphasis on this: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4). Right in the middle of learning and teaching, do not forget to keep it fun! My pastor’s wife told me that as she prepared to leave – help them remember to have fun. Throw a party, eat lots of good food, laugh and cry together!
God even planned some feasts into the official schedule of Israel. How’s that for a national vacation? Everyone traveled up the mountain to Jerusalem to worship God and party. They sang some of the Psalms especially for this, songs of ascents. They go through stages of repentance and crying out to God, but also rejoicing! Solomon wrote Psalm 127 on the structure of a family, but it seems to apply well to a body of believers as well:
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”
God is the One to sign for our projects, our steps, our blueprints. If He does not approve, the foundation will wobble! If He does approve, you can rest assured it will happen.
The finale, the crescendo of Psalms is the 150th chapter:
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
3 Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!”
God, we have many comings and goings, but You are the same. Thank You for days of feasting even if we have to wipe away some tears too. It is not easy to say goodbye even when we are glad for those leaving. Thank You for the dance mixed in with the stubbed toes and the fun we can have as believers. Thank You for dancing, laughter, singing, exuberance. Thank You for milestones and celebrations. And thank You for people to celebrate with that will also cry with you. This idea of Church, God, is beautiful. Please help us to be united as believers in more and more ways. So people will want to jump into their Sunday shoes and see what it’s all about. To Your glory, God, Amen.