Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Does Jesus Love a Good Party?

Does Jesus Love a Good Party?”

We all know that Jesus can be described as loving, forgiving, compassionate, and holy. But, how many of us describe one of Jesus’ characteristics as “party lover?” Let’s think about it, though, how many scenarios in the Gospels are found right in the middle of a party?

Three of the four Gospels find Jesus at parties in their first two chapters. It’s as if Jesus got baptized, went into the desert to be tempted by the Devil, and then came out and went to parties! (Actually the only Gospel that doesn’t start with a party is Matthew and his audience was the Jewish people who were taught to follow the rules.)

John tells us of the wedding that Jesus attended. It must have been a pretty fun wedding because they ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother knew that the solution wasn’t to shut down the party, but to go to Jesus and to ask him to somehow keep it going. She obviously wasn’t expecting Jesus to give her a lecture on why it’s wrong to drink. So, what did Jesus do? He turned water into wine; letting his Mother and the host know that he cared about the party and wanted it to be everything they had dreamed for it to become.

Luke tells us that Jesus went straight from the synagogue where he announced his ministry to a party at Peter’s house. The party was interrupted with Peter’s mother in law being very sick; it says that everyone begged Jesus to heal her. When Jesus responds in compassion and heals her; Luke tells us that “she got right up and prepared a meal for everyone.” Once again, Jesus cares about the party and brings his contribution to make it special. (This passage makes me smile as I wonder if she was the only good cook in the house!)

Mark also tells the story of Peter’s memorable party, but he adds more about parties in the second chapter. It quickly occurs to the Pharisees and John the Baptist’ disciples that Jesus and his disciples are having a lot more fun than they are. So, they send him a question, “Why don’t you fast?” Jesus’ reply is that wedding guests don’t fast while celebrating with the groom. He spoke of new wine being poured into new wineskins. Is it possible that part of the new wine is permission and an expectation to have a good time when we gather?

The very next segment in Mark 2 is a discussion about the Sabbath. Once again, the Pharisees are upset with Jesus because he isn’t observing the 468 laws of Sabbath that the Pharisees and Sadducees had identified. Jesus replies basically, “The Sabbath is for people to enjoy, not to dread.”

Somewhere along the way, we have gotten the idea that to follow Jesus is to be serious and not to have a lot of fun, so we shut off the “party valve.”

But, is this the good news that Jesus intended?

I know that I have fallen into the mistake of thinking that when we officially gather as Missio Lux that we need to make sure that some “spiritual activity” happens. However, I am beginning to understand that the less I focus on this, the more that Jesus himself shows up in the midst of the party and brings his new wine. It doesn’t have to be legislated.

In fact, I am beginning to realize that we can embrace parties as times to celebrate our friendships and to embrace new friendships, just being ourselves and knowing that because we are passionate about Jesus, talk about him in our lives will happen. In fact, it will happen very naturally making it all the more enticing for someone who does not yet know “Jesus the Party Lover.” More and more this looks like the good news to me!

Here’s my challenge: search the Scriptures.

Read about the times that Jesus spoke to Simon about loving well (Luke 7). Read about when Jesus took a teaching time and turned it into a party when he multiplied the loaves and fishes into a meal for thousands (Luke 9). Read about the last party of the Passover when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13).

Do you see a fun loving person when you read these passages?

Where do you need to make a mental adjustment about who Jesus is?

And, here’s my invitation to you: Have a party!

Make it fun. Include good food, good company and maybe even some good wine. Before everyone comes, just take a moment to invite Jesus to come and join the party and then relax and let the party flow. See what happens. Does Jesus make his presence known in a natural way?

I am looking forward to this summer. Missio Lux’ theme for this summer is Fun! We are looking for different ways of connecting that are natural and fun and will make our Seattle summer something to remember. One thing we know for sure, when Jesus shows up at our party, life will never be the same again.

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