As a pastor who lives in a popular beach town, there are two words that terrify me: wedding season. The Outer Banks of North Carolina have become one of the East Coast’s most popular wedding destinations, and I get my fair share of requests to officiate.
All weddings involve a certain amount of complexity, but these destination weddings are even more challenging for the officiant. You don’t know the people. You are dealing with outdoor venues; thus you have weather concerns. You have to travel to large beach rental houses in heavy Saturday traffic that are impossible to find due to our house numbering system here. And there may be a dog involved in the ceremony. One never knows. But when the details are sorted, every event is filled with happiness, feasting, gifts, food, and blessings. Joy abounds, God smiles down, and even the dog is happy.
I imagine the party that David threw after returning the ark to the temple was like a huge wedding reception. Everyone ate, danced, sang, and shared the joy of his victory. Our passage from 1 Chronicles today positively overflows with happiness. Can you feel it?
1 Chronicles 16 (Common English Bible)
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Share the news of his saving work every single day!
24 Declare God’s glory among the nations;
declare his wondrous works among all people
25 because the Lord is great and so worthy of praise.
He is awesome beyond all other gods
26 because all the gods of the nations are just idols,
but it is the Lord who created heaven!
27 Greatness and grandeur are in front of him;
strength and joy are in his place.
28 Give to the Lord, all families of the nations—
give to the Lord glory and power!
29 Give to the Lord the glory due his name!
Bring gifts! Enter his presence!
Bow down to the Lord
in his holy splendor!
30 Tremble before him, all the earth!
Yes, he set the world firmly in place;[a]
it won’t be shaken.
31 Let heaven celebrate!
Let the earth rejoice!
Let the nations say, “The Lord rules!”
32 Let the sea and everything in it roar!
Let the countryside and everything in it celebrate!
33 Then the trees of the forest will shout out joyfully
before the Lord, because he is coming
to establish justice on earth!
34 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good,
because his faithful love endures forever.
And did you notice that we are not just invited to celebrate, but are actually commanded to rejoice? Words like sing, declare, share, give, bring, bow, celebrate, shout, roar, etc. are action verbs that require a response on our part. We are not meant to be passive spectators at this party, but full participants.
God is worthy of our celebratory joy. We celebrate God’s “holy splendor,” reminding us that in God’s set-apart-ness, he created every big and small thing, and all of nations rejoice. We celebrate God’s presence among us as the generous host of this event. We celebrate God’s superiority over the manmade gods and idols, acknowledging that our God created the heavens and the earth. We celebrate nature’s ability to join us in our praise as further proof of God’s power.
When I am standing on that beach or that sunset pier watching two people give their lives to each other, I appreciate their choice to take their vows in these beautiful settings. For every lovely church wedding I have performed, there is nothing like the sound of waves and seagulls adding their music to the ceremony. Indeed, creation rejoices in its Maker, and we get to bask in it all.
Do something good for yourself today. Go outside and look around. Study the sky, the clouds, the ground, the fresh air, and rejoice!
And then give thanks to the Lord, because God’s love endures forever.
Celebrate! by Michelle Robertson