Summary: Our God loves to party and His parties are lavish and extravagant and they satisfy to the very core of your being. God’s parties are for all people. God’s ultimate party will start on time and only those who are ready for it get to share in the joy.
IT’S PARTY TIME
Scripture: Luke 15: 11-32
1) “People are made to party” – that’s the word from Lorna Wing, the British counterpart to Martha Stewart in her book “Party Food”.
• Lorna Wing is a professional party thrower and caterer who has been entertaining people of all stripes for over twenty years. Her list of clients includes a veritable "Who’s Who" of the famous and fashionable: Tom Cruise, Eric Clapton, English entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran, Estee Lauder and Giorgio Armani all count on Lorna to do it right.
• Whether or not she is correct that people are made to party – I know that pretty much everyone loves a good party.
• We just had a birthday party yesterday for our 6 year old granddaughter, and I know she has been counting off the days for the past 2 weeks!
• Americans are the ones who coined the phrase TGIF – "Thank God It’s Friday" – we are a people who live for the weekend – time to kick back, relax, and party! We’ve even named Wednesday “Hump Day” because once it has passed we’re over the hump and party time is that much closer.
2) What makes a truly great and memorable party is not just the food, the decorations, the music, the people – though all of those are very important ingredients – what makes the party stand out as enjoyable or not in our memory is our relationship to and with the host/hostess and our relationship with the guests present.
• Nothing is worse than being at a lavish party and feeling like an outsider, feeling like you don’t fit in or don’t belong.
• You see other people having a good time, connecting and enjoying each other’s company, but no one seems to notice you or be interested in you.
• Those are the kinds of parties we’d rather forget, no matter how elaborate or fancy they might have been.
3) Well, I have some good news for you. Our God is a partying God and there is nothing dull, boring, or embarrassing about His parties. He loves to party and His parties are lavish and extravagant and they satisfy to the very core of your being – the Scriptures have numerous references to demonstrate that fact.
• In Psalm 23 David spoke of the Lord “preparing a banqueting table before him in the presence of his enemies – anointing his head with the oil of blessing and showering him with such abundant goodness that his cup overflows.
• In the Song of Solomon 2:14 Solomon writes, “He brought me to His banqueting table and His banner over me is love.”
• In Isaiah 62:5 the prophet writes, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”
• In Zephaniah 3:17 we read: “The Lord your God is in your midst…he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
• In our Scripture lesson for today and in the verses that precede it we read of partying, celebration, music, and dancing and are told that in the same way there is joyous partying in heaven when one who has been lost is found.
4) That raises another point. God’s parties are for all people – "red and yellow, black and white – all are precious in His sight."
• His invitation is for the learned and highly educated and those of noble birth and was accepted, you remember, by the Magi from the east – who brought gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to Jesus’ birthday party.
• His invitation also went out to the lowliest of the low as a multitude of heaven’s mighty angels appeared at night to a small group of shepherds guarding their sheep on a Bethlehem hillside.
• His parties are especially planned as celebrations when those who have been lost are found again.
• In the 3 parables in Luke 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, Jesus identifies 3 ways we get lost:
(a) We get lost by nature – we are all sheep and it is in the nature of sheep to get lost. They just get their head down into the juicy grass and will go munching themselves right away from the rest of the flock. Isaiah aptly describes our condition when he writes in ch. 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.”
(b) We also get lost by accident – that’s what happened to the coin when it got accidentally dropped from the hand or knocked off the shelf and rolled away to some hard-to-find place. We also get lost in that way just by living in this dark world – things happen, unexpected storms hammer and pound us, circumstances beyond our control lead us off the path and we loose our bearings and sense of direction.