My favorite TV show growing–CHiP’s–followed the crime foiling adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops. The show was famous for the thrilling car chase scenes and massive multi-car pile ups in every episode. My first grade buddy, Phil, and I religiously reenacted every episode. We may have been riding rusty Schwinns, but to us, they were trusty Kawasaki Z1-P’s. Phil always played Officer Jon Baker because he had blonde hair. I got to be the dashing Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (you guessed it, he had brown hair).
“Ponch” was played by actor Eric Estrada (fun fact: as of 2016, Estrada was a reserve police officer in St. Anthony, Idaho). Officer Poncherello had it all–motorcycle skills, street smarts and the character and integrity you would expect from a 1970’s TV cop.
In Season 5 (episode 16 for the true fans), Ponch enters a battle-of-the-bands where he sings “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang (you can watch it here: Erik Estrada-“Celebrate” –you’re welcome). I couldn’t tear my eyes away as I watched my hero, gracing us with his sultry voice, satin (polyester?) shirt and dazzling disco prowess. To this day, when I hear the word “celebrate” I am instantly teleported back to that glorious Sunday night–January 31st, 1981–and if you watch closely, you might catch a slight movement in my hips as I momentarily stare off into the distance. This is going somewhere, I promise…
So, with that rather gratuitous glimpse into my childhood, we will now turn our attention to the final movement in the daily Eucharist life of the follower of Jesus. So far we have followed the process of contemplation, confession and intercession that ultimately flows into the practice of holy celebration. Indeed, there is no other appropriate response to the overwhelming realization that Creator God is fully aware of our faults and failures, and does not hesitate to forgive, heal and make us whole in his sight.
Moreover, how else can the humbled and contrite Christian respond to the further movement of the Spirit in restoring and redeeming the damage we have caused to the people around us? We are forgiven and we forgive, turning our hearts toward the gift of intercessory prayer, sharing each other’s burdens–firmly planted on the foundation of grace in Christ Jesus. When we truly embrace the awe, wonder and intimacy of the Eucharist, we stand face to face with the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Father–celebration.
The story of the ongoing fall of humanity must be told, confessed and repented of–not for shame, but because God’s glory and our righteousness finds its deepest meaning in what comes after the telling. Like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet in Luke 7, our experience of loving and being loved is inextricably connected to our capacity to embrace real contemplation, confession and intercession. Eucharist. Let us “celebrate good times, come on…let’s have a celebration!”