I preached on the power of fellowship at church on Sunday. We practiced the life of fellowship in Acts 2:42-47 at a level we never have as a church before. We stood up and gave from our pockets and our hearts toward a stranger we didn't know and who didn't even deserve it. We invested in members of our body who are pastors in training. We let go of our shame and prayed for one another's personal needs. And we learned the deepest meaning of the word communion. We broke bread for the first time together, and we said YES to the fullness of Christ through laying down our lives for one another - no matter what our lives look life or seemed to have to offer.
And then we took the power of fellowship to a whole different level.
The stage had been set. Physically and spiritually.
We said yes to laying down our lives, and then we hung up bright pink curtains and balloons.
|She even had a party hostess dressed like a princess to carry her around!|
|Praise and her entourage|
|Praise was mostly happy about the cheese puffs.|
|The children singing a blessing over the birthday girl.|
The best part was that, although she loved it, I think everybody else at the party had more fun than the actual guest of honor. Praise basked in her chips, cakes and music, but the mothers and the guests were beside ourselves with joy.
|Her happy mama.|
|Sometimes you just gotta stand up and DANCE IT OUT.|
|Lennon gets it.|
The best part is not opening up the presents. It's giving away the love.
Praise won't remember her experience of her first birthday party, and we won't ever forget it. Most people in that room have never had a birthday cake, much less a party. Some don't even know when their birthdays are. But all that mattered that day was that there was a life to love.
Instead of being worried about who's going to love our lives or how much we can actually handle giving of our stuff and ourselves, we just live and love and eat a lot of sugar. And we are set free.
OH, and we dance.
|Big brother Blessing.|
And YES, their names are Blessing and Praise.
|Our little birthday cupcake.|
The power's in the party.
When the limited lives of people come together for something beyond the limits of life, the good stuff gets unleashed. The joy beyond our reach. The abundant life that doesn't make sense.
We we created in the image of the Master Party Planner. Every breath He gives us was designed to bring us closer to Him and to the celebration of being together in paradise. The secret is in the party - where it doesn't matter where we're coming from or where we're going. We just come around life and love it.
When we're together, that's enough.
When we give what we have and what we don't, reckless joy and unstoppable hope comes. It doesn't have to ever stop, and sometimes it starts with one little year, dressed in ribbons and lace and with cake all over her face.
And a few other highlights...
|The unruly party guests at the back of the church.|
|LOOK AT THE CHEEKS.|
|Oh hey Kevin.|
|I made Praise her own mini-cake.|
I'd say it was a hit.
|So would Praise.|
|And also Lennon.|
|Baby Cheeks had another opinion.|
|Still going... And I just kept taking pictures.|
|Eventually, the unruly behavior and the sugar high|
backfired in a bad way. There were about 4 children in
my skirt. So I promptly drove them home and left
them with their mothers. :)