Elbert “Ickey” Woods was born to celebrate. He played fullback for the Cincinnati Bengals. He is best remembered for his “Ickey Shuffle” end zone dance, performed each time he scored a touchdown. Recently he is featured in a national GEICO Insurance commercial in which he reprised his “Ickey Shuffle” while gleefully celebrating his number being called at a grocery deli counter.
Terrence E. Deal and M. K. Key, in their book Corporate Celebration: Play, Purpose, and Profit at Work, say, “Celebration is vital to the human psyche. . . . In authentic celebration, people are willing to step out of their daily routine, drop their outer masks, and be fully present in the occasion.”
Celebration is at the heart of God himself. We will never understand the significance of celebration in human life until we understand its importance to God. I suspect that most of us seriously underestimate God’s capacity for celebration.
Remember what Jesus said of the angels when one person comes to faith in Christ? “I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10 NIV). The angels celebrate. Remember what the father did when the Prodigal Son returned home? “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:23-24 NIV). The father represents God and the son represents us. God celebrates. He is the author of celebration.
And God’s intent is that his creation, you and me, would mirror his celebration. We are the recipients of grace, the receivers of love, and the beneficiaries of hope. God has delivered us, blessed us, and rewarded us.
Southwest Airlines has been a hugely successful company. They also are a great company to work for and if you have to fly a great airline to fly on. Perhaps you have been on one of their flights when the flight attendant delivers preflight instructions better than a stand-up comedian. They have created a culture of celebration. According to Kevin and Jackie Freiberg who authored the book Nuts, “Southwest Airlines is famous for honoring individuals, groups, significant events, and important accomplishments in creative, festive, and often positively outrageous ways. There are few organizations where people celebrate life as passionately and as consistently as do the people of Southwest Airlines.”
Note that last sentence, “There are few organizations where people celebrate life as passionately and as consistently as do the people of Southwest Airlines.”
That’s quite a statement, isn’t it? Shouldn’t that be said of the church? The church is the organization where people celebrate life passionately and consistently like no one else.
Perhaps we too will recognize that celebration is not an intrusion, but, in fact, a necessary ingredient in all that we do and all that we are. When we come together worshipping the God of the universe, sharing the joy, and linking our lives together, we cannot help but celebrate.
So take just a moment and consider a few reasons to celebrate (the “Ickey Shuffle” is optional):
If you got up this morning . . .
If you had a birthday in the last twelve months . . .
If you took a breath . . .
If you live in America . . .
If you enjoy freedom, won and defended by veterans . . .
If you came to church without threat or persecution . . .
If you have been blessed by God . . .
If you have a home with a roof over your head . . .
If you know where your next meal is coming from . . .
If you have clothes to wear . . .
If you have a car to drive . . .
If you have money in the bank . . .
If you have medical care . . .
If you have or had a job . . .
If you know the joy of being married . . .
If you have been blessed with children . . .
If you have friends and family who love you . . .
If your sins are forgiven . . .
If your prayers have been answered . . .
If you are assured of a place in heaven . . .
If you have a Savior that loves and guides you . . .
You have reason to celebrate.