This Fourth of July, I rode my bicycle across the Anacostia river to Capitol Hill, where I met up with some friends and enjoyed a rooftop view of the fireworks on the National Mall. DC’s Fourth of July display is always impressive and beautiful. There’s something special about the way the the Washington Monument and Capitol Building light up in reds, blues and greens.
I ended up getting an even more memorable show as I rode back roughly four miles through Capitol Hill, across the river and through my neighborhood on the east side of town. The closer to home I got, the more people I saw in the streets. The air was thick with the smoke of burnt gunpowder. At times I found it difficult to breathe. Block after block, it seemed like every man, woman and child had bought their full weight in explosives and planned to spend the whole evening igniting every last firecracker and projectile.
Passing through this mesmerizing scene, I sensed that this night’s festivities were significant in some profound way that is difficult to express in words. Somehow, this city-wide explosive display was breaking through all our normal routines. It drew us into a special moment in time where the rules were different. The smokey, burning night had become magical.
Celebration does this. It takes us outside the routine and makes all things seem possible. When we truly enter into celebration, the rules and assumptions we normally live by are broken down.
If the celebration of a patriotic festival can have this effect, how much more powerful could it be to celebrate the living presence of Jesus in our midst? What new possibilities might open up if we gave ourselves the freedom to celebrate the amazing fact of God with us? How might our lives change if we embraced this kind of awareness, gratitude and praise?