One by one people trickled in. Two by two they filled the rows and by the third song, lifted with swells of drums and voices, our small rented space was packed to capacity. Men, women and children pressed together to celebrate our church’s anniversary. The room overflowed to the point where all the children had to go up onto the roof to make room for everyone. Even still, members of our church gave up their seats to guests and sat in our courtyard singing in through the windows.
One year ago our small band of believers were gathered together on the top floor of a hotel. Now, located in the heart of Parcelles Assainies, we are seeing our church building filled to capacity on these celebration days.
Each celebration, every Christmas service and Easter morning, our church grows. Every anniversary and Pentecost our church reaches further into the community. Birthdays and anniversaries, holidays and festivals are important because they help us mark the passage of time.
We so easily lose ourselves in time. The mundane tasks drone from one day to the next. The months and years slip away. If we don’t stop to celebrate victories, great and small, we disillusion ourselves of our purpose and God’s glory. The grandeur of time and space can disjoint us from reality. The contemplation of eternity can give us headaches. Celebrations help us ground the steady uptick of time toward eternity.
This is nothing new. Our Creator, fully aware of our finite limitations, calls us to celebration and worship. In Numbers 28 the Lord lays out for Moses an anchor for the people as the waves of time wash by. Daily offerings rose up to the Lord like a pleasing aroma. A Sabbath day each week was set apart from the rest. Every month ushered in a new opportunity to glory in the presence of God, as the phases of the moon reflected the passage of time. And as each month brought closer a new year, a series of festivals were established to bring the people of God together in worship and celebration.
The new generation of God’s people were standing before Moses. Their numbers were fully counted. They were equipped with the direction to the promised land and how to rightly divide the land (Num. 26). And Joshua, their next leader was standing before them ready to lead the conquest (Num. 27). But chapter 28 isn’t about the next strategy to occupy the land. Chapter 28 isn’t the work of conquest. Chapter 28 is about celebration and worship.
We are preparing the church of Parcelles Assainies for a future that endures the good times and bad, the seasons of struggle and success. We are equipping them with the wisdom to celebrate in all the victories God brings our way, great or small, so that whether in hundreds or in ones, we are redeeming the time as we journey toward eternity (Eph. 5.16).