Archive for June 4th, 2012

Memorial Day just passed.  So many posts on Facebook of, “I will not forget”.  Yet as I think about our many holidays and the way that we celebrate them I wonder.  Chilly Chilton recently posted in a group that I belong to about Pentecost Sunday:

We have one Sunday each year that we call “Pentecost Sunday” … Question: what do we call (and live) the other 51 weeks??

The impact of any given holiday and the memory that it is intended to convey is not indicated by what we do on that day or in that season but by what we do in the “other 51 weeks”.

It would seem that as a race (the human race) we establish holidays more to forget an event than to remember it.  My first inclination was to see this as a recent phenomenon but as I consider the Old Testament and Israel I find that this is probably not the case.  Consider Amos 5:21

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.”

These feasts and assemblies were ordained by God to commemorate his intervention in the history of Israel, but somewhere along the line Israel lost the meaning of  the feasts and followed only the senseless observance.  As the popular song puts it they missed “the heart of worship”.  The book of Amos is essentially a call to Israel by God to return to the heart of worship.  It is about what they do the other 51 weeks out of the year. “You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.”  (Amos 5:7). Yet Isaiah makes it clear that while injustice, bitterness and unrighteousness are the fruit, the core of the matter is in the heart, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”  Isaiah 29:13

Jesus boils it all down to two commands that seem so simple but for fallen humanity are only possible to follow through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

I will take the liberty to expand Jesus’ words to include all the feasts and all the Holidays;  all the Sabbaths and all the forms of worship we may have.  If they do not point to and express our love for God and our love for our neighbors they are as Paul put it in the famous love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, “a resounding gong or clanging cymbal”  If they do not impact what we do “the other 51 weeks of the year” to be obedient to the great commandments then they are worse than useless, they are despised by God.  The great truth in all of this is that it is really not about the form, the holiday, the season, the tradition…It is about the heart and our personal relationships with our Lord Jesus Christ being expressed in all that we do.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:9-12

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