Father, forgive me.

It’s a month into summer vacation, and I have not hung the twinkle lights and lain out the fine linens in your name. I have not fired up the grill and hosted my friends and neighbors. I have not partied like you taught us to party.

Despite my recurring fantasy of a beautiful summer evening on the patio with friends, I keep stopping myself with practical questions over occasion, cost, and time. Wouldn’t my focus be better spent elsewhere? It’s almost as if I’m looking for an excuse not to celebrate, rather than recognizing all the good gifts I’ve been given to honor God.

Like many Christians, wary of the “fun” spiritual disciplines like rest and celebration and hospitality, I’ve struggled with how to live out a theology of feasting in my life.

I was confronted with the power of party as Christian witness last Christmas, following a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. Afterwards, the church served an elaborate display of homemade soups and desserts, enough to feed thousands in the crowd. I’d been to my share of church potlucks and picnics, but this was something special: a delicious, extravagant, God-reflecting act of hospitality.

This is part of the philosophy at Christ Presbyterian. The congregation hosts three large-scale parties a year, drawing in between 2,000 and 3,000 a piece, with attendance split between church members and people from their community in Nashville.

“Though it is not the primary goal of our larger parties—we celebrate and have fun for its own sake, because Jesus always seemed to be feasting—it becomes an entry into the life of our church,” pastor ...

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