Preparing for Worship // November 13, 2016

Preparing for Worship // November 13, 2016

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Did you know that the Bible commands you to party? People love to celebrate. We love having parties, enjoying people, and celebrating the good things in life. This is even more true when something exciting happens. It’s appropriate that weddings are surrounded by showers and parties and that they’re capped off with a party after the ceremony. Celebration is a natural response to the joys of life.

The book of Esther is book-ended by two parties, and we can learn a lot about what celebration should looke like from them. In chapter one, King Ahasuerus throws a party, and it’s a prime example of how not to celebrate. It all centers on the king who, through the course of the celebration, reveals his arrogance, immaturity, and lack of wisdom. But what really makes this party bad is that it is man-centered; it’s a chance for the king to show off how great he is (Esther 1:4). The other party is the one that the Jews throw in chapter nine. Rather than a man-centered glory grab, this party is a joyful response of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance. It’s God-centered, a celebration of what God has done for His people. One party centers on the glory of man; the other centers on the glory of God.

But there is another important difference between these two parties. One is meant to accomplish something; the other is a response of celebration to something. The king’s party is thrown with the purpose of bringing himself glory (Esther 1:4); he’s trying to use a party to make himself look good. He’s trying to create happiness for himself. To put it in gospel language, he’s trying to justify himself. The Jews, on the other hand, are celebrating something that has already been accomplished. God has defeated their enemies, and their party is an overwhelming response of thanksgiving for what is now over and done with. This should affect the way we celebrate and the way we party. Our parties should always flow out of the joys of life that God has given us. This does not mean that parties can never have a purpose; on one level, every party that we throw should have the goal of encouraging fellowship. But in our culture today, parties are often a way of filling a void, of trying to find joy and satisfaction. As Christians, we celebrate because we already find our joy and satisfaction in Christ; we celebrate because He has already done so much fo rus and we want to respond in thanksgiving.

Nowhere is this more true than in worship on Sunday morning. This is the time each week when we gather together to celebrate the deliverance that God has accomplished for us. So sing at the top of your lungs. Worship God with gladness. Celebrate! God has redeemed you and made you His. This calls for a party!

THE WORD

Scripture: Esther 9:17-32
Sermon: Celebrate!

SONGS

Christ the Lord is Risen Today (NCC Worship)
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Not To Us (Chris Tomlin)
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Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (Indelible Grace)
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Jesus I Am Resting Resting
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Song of Preparation: O Day of Rest and Gladness (Indelible Grace)
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Song of Response: We Will Feast In The House Of Zion  (Sandra McCracken)
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