This past summer, our family had the opportunity to go to Israel with Light for the World (http://lftw.rcachurches.org). Light for the World is run by Marlin and Sally Vis. I have thousands of pictures and stories I could share with you. In fact, you can see many of them here. The last half of our trip was centered out of Jerusalem, where we discovered that the Jewish people know how to celebrate. We first encountered celebration at the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall) on Friday night as they celebrated the start of Shabbat, which is their day of rest. We saw young and old gathering together in circles dancing, singing, and clapping. The air was filled with joy and expectation.
Over the following days we continued to witness another form of celebration: Bar Mitzvah processions. These are for boys who have reached the age of 13. Typically we would hear a Bar Mitzvah procession before we would see it, as the sound of musicians playing drums, clarinets, shofars (a ram’s horn), and other instruments would echo through the streets. Close behind the musicians were people holding the poles of a tent as a focal point over the boy. Behind him were the rest of the family and friends holding balloons and dressed in their finest clothing. You could’t help but be caught up in the joy!
These memories of joy filled my heart on Sunday as we witnessed the Profession of Faith/Confirmation of so many of our young people. As a dad of one of the girls who made Profession of Faith, I felt a particular sense of joy in seeing how God has worked in her life and been faithful across many generations. After the service, we celebrated with friends and family. If only we could share that joy with the world by walking down the street banging drums and making loud music! My sense is our daughter would have been a bit embarrassed.
This time of Profession of Faith tied well with the words that Pastor Brian shared this Sunday about preaching. Particularly, at the end of the sermon, when he challenged us with the words, “You are called to preach.” The act of seeing these Professions of Faith reminds us of our own decision to follow Christ, and can move us into action to share with others. This is the way we can live out the call to preach! One quick reminder, we are not responsible for how people respond to the words we share. That is God’s work. He simply calls us to share out of what he has done for us.
By the way, if you don’t feel equipped to share the story, you might find the following free video series to be great foundation to rediscover (or discover) the good news: http://www.startingpointseries.com. You might even find yourself in the same place as the Israelites in Nehemiah 8:12:
And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”
I can’t help it, hear this one final word of joy from Nehemiah 8:10b:
“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Let’s preach it!