Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Review

In a recent sermon, Rev. Irwin mentioned Tony Campolo's book, The Kingdom of God is a Party. It is on the shelf in our church library so I took it home and read it.
 It was written in 1990 so some of the examples are dated, but the concept of joy is timeless. The author argues that at times the church has focussed so heavily on repentance and judgement that laughter and partying were seen as sinful.
Campolo argues that the year of Jubilee as outlined in Leviticus 25:8 supports the notion of a party, when all debts are forgiven, prisoners set free and land returned to its original owners. Is. 61:1-2 echos this command and Jesus himself chose those same writings to read in the temple Luke 4:21. Tithing as descripted in Deut. 14, is all about setting aside a tenth of one's wealth in order to hold a party at a place which the Lord shall choose.
The author then goes on to describe several instances of parties that belong to the Kingdom of God as opposed to those that belong to the world. A party for the 'losers' on prom night proved so successful, the "it" kids wanted to attend. Church services where "make a joyful noise," was taken literally and the congregation erupted into singing and clapping and alleluias. Families who have put their commitment to each other above business relationships, sports activities and even church work, if it detracted from the joy of being a family. In the workplace, Christians can become the life of the party by their attitude. Like Jesus, Christians can attract others by living a faithful and joy-filled life. Paul and Silas singing hymns in prison are Biblical examples of partying in dire circumstances. Acts 16: 23-25
Of course, earthly life includes sorrow and hardship. Not even Tony Campolo expects Christians to always smile and sing. There are times when we hurt, times when we cry. We face loss, death and the destruction of cherished dreams. The difference for those who belong to the Kingdom of God, is that sorrow does not overwhelm, death does not defeat. 
The author acknowledges that some Christians find his attitude toward partying hard to swallow. One critic wrote "God is working. Jesus is working. And the Holy Spirit is in us -- working! I work. And when I am really depressed, I work, really work . . .Please consider shelving your party message."
The author counters by quoting Revelations 19: 6 "Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice. . ."

I found this an interesting book, one that gave me much to think about.  "Work for the night is coming," is a common theme in our church, but "Give to us laughter," is an option. 

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