Friday, May 12, 2017

Power of Good News

by Dr. James R. Brooks
Lead Minister of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Edwardsville, IL

Celebration is most powerful!

Top of the Olympic podium, 
presentation of a Congressional Medal of Honor,
confirming an academic degree, 
awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, 
receiving a “Be My Valentine” in elementary school.

Many years ago, Dr. Manual Tamayo was in my office.  I cherish him as a member of my church and as a retired clergy … a colleague in the truest sense.

He made a remark I will not forget.  Dr. Tamayo told me that he understood what I was doing at First Christian Church in Edwardsville.  He told me I was using celebration to empower ministry.  Manny said it better than I.  Maybe it was because he was a fan of The Ohio State Buckeyes (who are able to celebrate more often than they deserve says a Purdue grad being me.) but I do believe my friend understood the power of celebration.  I wish I had more time to reflect with him.  

It is by design that the most important books of the New Testament are the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The recording of Jesus’ Earthly ministry is remembered as good news… celebration!

“The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living” by Norman Vincent Peale is a fascinating book also naming the power of celebration.

I grew up hearing the phrase … “you catch more flies with honey than ….”  
Celebration is profoundly transformative.

Celebration is not Naval Gazing.  Celebration can be other than affirming the past.  Celebration can be transformative of the future.  Celebration can be VisionCasting.

How we celebrate an achievement is an interpretation of the past.  How we speak of the achievement is a value statement of what was right and what was wrong.  We interpret the past when we celebrate.

Celebrations empower the future.  Who is not motivated to be celebrated?  From the base motivation of pride (which seeks its own celebration) to the altruistic wish to serve neighbor … Celebration can motivate.  Our choice of what to celebrate describes our future.

Celebrations inspire others.  In the conduct of our ministry / vocation, we are observed by others who wish to be as successful as they perceive us.  Celebrating our good works can leads others to greater heights.  As children imitate parents, servants imitate leaders … ordained, commissioned, lay … we can inspired others!

Celebration builds self-esteem.  Faith communities with self-esteem serve their neighbor with greater vigor than otherwise.  When a faith community founds its self-esteem in the glory of God, the subsequent service to neighbor is to be celebrated!

A contrary voice might be found among the “tall poppy” ground.  There is a group loving to lop off the tops of tall poppy.  Meaning they are compelled to drag down those who dare to achieve more than average … more than least common denominator.

Some communities / context demand a prophetic voice.  Thanks be to God for the voice of celebration to transform other communities.  My colleagues who are patterned after Jeremiah and Isaiah are a true gift to us all.

Some communities hear a shepherd’s voice of celebration.  Celebrating the green pastures provided by God.  Celebrating the opportunity to meet our neighbor’s need.  Celebrating the service of a sister Christian.  Celebrating our thankful response to God’s love.
Celebration is more than an opiate for the masses.  Celebration can be the highway mark of traction.   Communion is celebration in action … worship!

The fruit of celebration at First Christian Church in Edwardsville, Illinois since 2001…

  • 35 youth plus 7 adults going to church camp in Florida
  • 45 youth and children participating in Sunday evening activites
  • 2x the worship services with varying worship styles
  • purchase of adjacent land to accommodate future growth
  • organizational practices that embrace diversity
  • sponsoring multiple candidates for ordination
  • hosting a dozen non-profit community groups each week in our building
  • doubling number of adults studying the Bible
  • older adult ministry with 30 plus participating
  • and so much more!