There are all kinds of things to celebrate: the birth of a baby, birthdays in general, passing exams, getting engaged, getting married, learning to drive… so much that is good in life to celebrate. We celebrate in different ways:
with champagne

with balloons:

with fireworks:

and, especially at Goldthorpe, with cake!:

Celebration is essentially a corporate activity. It is, of course, possible to celebrate all of these things by ourselves, but when you think of these occasions, you tend to think of large gatherings: families, friends getting together to celebrate together. There is togetherness in celebration, because we are called to community. We are not isolated individuals. We are born into a family; we are born again into God’s family.

There are two things the church does regularly as celebration. One is the sacrament of baptism, whereby we celebrate a person’s public commitment to follow Christ. Baptismal services are always great celebrations, as we rejoice in the new life Paul talks about in Romans 6.

The other sacrament may not seem like a celebration, but regularly Christians take part in the Communion meal where we obey Christ’s command to ‘do this in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19). As we eat the bread and drink the wine, we fix our gaze on the death and resurrection of our Lord, celebrating the victory over sin that they have brought us, focussing on ‘the greatest day in history’, for our hearts are all too prone to forget.

The celebration which God talks about most as a symbol of the life we have with Him is that of the wedding feast. Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding and later said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” (Matt 22:2)

Throughout the Bible, the relationship between God and His people is likened to that of marriage: Paul talks about this in Ephesians 5; Song of Songs talks about the relationship between two lovers and is generally understood also to be an allegory about God’s relationship with His people; Ezekiel 23 talks about Israel and Judah behaving like prostitutes rather than like wives, clearly showing that the relationship between God and His people is meant to be close, intimate and faithful. And we see in Revelation, of course, that there is going to be a wedding between the Lamb, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His bride.

We worship because of who God is and what He has done. We celebrate because of who God is and what He has done. We do these things together because He has brought us into His family. And we worship and celebrate not only because of what God has done but in anticipation of what is yet to come:

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:2-4)