My wife loves to host parties. For the last several years she has hosted a Christmas cookie exchange that brings women from far and wide to our house, bearing tins and tupperware containing six dozen cookies. The evening is filled with fun, laughter, sharing of cookies, and eating food.
Before we bought our house, we prayed that whichever house we did eventually buy, God would allow it to be a place for people to come and find joy in God. We wanted it to be a place for the weak to find rest, for the discouraged to be encouraged, for the lost to discover the joy of the gospel, and for the glory of God to be more fully known to those who would be our neighbors. He has answered that prayer in ways we could not have expected.
Thinking about my wife’s affinity for parties made me consider what the Bible has to say about parties or as it’s writers refer to it- festivals. Consider II Chronicles 30:22:
And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord, the God of their fathers.
This festival was a result of the call of King Hezekiah to the nation of Israel and Judah. They had turned away from God and turned to idols and false gods. This was a call to gather together as a people and turn their hearts back towards God.
“For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him (II Chronicles 30:9).”
God was pleased to have his people come back to him with repentant hearts so that he may show them his grace and mercy. Mourning for sin and repentance from it are appropriate and right, but God also wanted them to rejoice in the grace and mercy that he promised to them for their return. A festival was an appropriate response to highlight the grace and mercy of God. The festival was supposed to last seven days but they extended it to 14 days and it involved thousands of animals for sacrifice to God.
Living on this side of the cross precludes our parties from filling our homes with burnt animal flesh, but all the aspects of our parties can remind us of the mercy and grace of God. Parties remind us that God wants us to rejoice in him. Cookies remind us that we are to taste and see that God is good. Friends remind us that because of the cross we can have fellowship with God. All aspects of parties are to point towards God.
I hope and pray that our parties are intentional in this way and remind the people that enter our door that God is to be seen and savored.