The Theology of Parties
Today I’ve trimmed up the hedges, cleaned the bathrooms, made room in the fridge for homemade salsa and Mexican beer, and made a run to the liquor store for tequila and margarita mix. And I’ve counted it as ministry. Sure ’nuff work that I’m called to do on behalf of, and alongside, the people of God.
Because here’s the thing. You cannot swing a dead cat in the Bible without running into one of God’s parties. You know how they make that Bible with red letters wherever Jesus speaks? Or the one with green print every time earth and its ecology are mentioned? Or the really hard one with highlighting over all the parts that talk about God’s special concern for the poor? I humbly submit that some publisher should add a new one to the collection: I want a Bible with hot pink confetti sprinkled over all the parties in the Bible.
Hot pink confetti for all the times that God’s prophets predict a big banquet in God’s dining room when God finally gets everything God wants. God’s been cooking all day, and there are enough chairs for everybody – me, my friends, my neighbors, and my enemies. Check out Isaiah 25:6-9 for just one example. Rich food. Aged wines. Yum yum.
Hot pink confetti for all the times God’s people are instructed to bring their first fruits to the altar, the tithe of their herds and crops; and, when they’ve sufficiently submitted those gifts to the priest, they’re instructed to use that stuff to throw a giant party for everybody who doesn’t have stuff of their own, a party to which they themselves are also invited. Don’t believe me? Check out Deuteronomy 26:1-11. “Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and your house!” Tithing = par-TAY! Who knew?
Hot pink confetti for all the times Jesus goes beyond base-level sustenance for the people he loves and feeds them till they’re full, sending them home with doggie bags; or gives them the best drink they’ve ever tasted even when the peak of the party has passed. I don’t have to give you scripture and verse for those. You know them already.
Pink confetti for all the times Jesus describes the “kingdom of God” like a feast, a banquet, a wedding reception, a party you don’t want to miss. Pink confetti for all the times Jesus is accused of eating and drinking too much, celebrating too much with all the wrong people all the dadgum time. “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matthew 11:19). I say, who wouldn’t want to follow a messiah like that?
So here’s something we count as important kingdom work at Galileo Church: we throw parties. If there’s no reason to have one, we make one up. After Christmas we threw a “We Survived the Holidays” party, because a lot of our friends suffer through holidays with – or without – their loved ones. When it was my birthday, there were no presents (because that wasn’t the point!) but there was lots of cake, and there were lots of people, and we blew off a lot of steam. We all went roller skating one night for no good reason other than it helped us have an intergenerationally hilarious good time. I’m doing chores today to get ready for Dos de Mayo tonight – because, you know, Cinco de Mayo is on a Monday, and that’s a lousy party day.
We do this as a form of kingdom work, because we believe that in the future of God’s imagining, “the shroud that is cast over all peoples” and “the sheet that is spread over all nations” will be ripped away, and God will swallow Death as an appetizer, and all God’s people will be invited to boogie down as tears are wiped away and disgrace is erased from our existence. The table will be laden with deliciousness and no one will be turned away. (This is Isaiah 25 again.)
So we’re doing our part to puuuuullllllll God’s future into our present, one party at a time. This is good work, church. Y’all come on over.