Since I work with students, a re-occurring theme surfaces about a theological understanding many have of God: God is mean but Jesus is sweet and happy. And, with that in mind, some Christians think that God is scowling at us all the time. Please help us put that myth to death. Our God is loving and celebratory. When we respond to what God does and who God is, we can celebrate as well.
Adele Calhoun in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook says, “Celebration is a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward worship, praise and thanksgiving. Delighting in all the attentions and never-changing presence of the Trinity fuels celebration.” Notice that celebration brings together worship, praise, and thanksgiving. When we celebrate the Lord and His work in our lives, we express worship toward God, ascribing to him worth. We also praise him for who he is. And, such activity helps us to be thankful and give God thanks for what he does for us and through us.
Let’s look at the Scriptures to understand more. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God celebrates us and sings over us. Read Psalm 100. While we think of Psalm 100 as a thanksgiving psalm, it is literally five verses of celebration. Hebrews 12:1 describes how saints in heaven cheer us on and celebrate for us as we run the race of faith to eventually join them in eternity. Don’t miss that God celebrates his creation in Genesis 1. As he called everything into existence, he declared it good over and over. Finally, when creation was complete, he declared it all very good. In 2 Samuel 6:21, David expressed his celebration before the Lord with dancing. Acts 2 is about the birth of the church. In verses 46-47, we see the celebration that flowed in and through these first Christians: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (ESV).”
So, what can we celebrate? Let’s start with ideas about those Acts 2 Christians. They celebrated worship and fellowship. They celebrated their meals with glad and generous hearts. They praised God. They celebrated relationships. They celebrated new believers coming into the church.
What can we celebrate? Everything!
- Your church
- Your small group
- Your family
- Sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights; just look around in creation.
- Beauty in nature and in the arts
- God’s Word
- Your spiritual leaders: pastor, deacons, teachers, accountability partners
- God’s blessings: shelter, transportation, food, clothing
- Technology equipment
- You name it. It all comes from God and we can celebrate it.
Celebration does not come easy for all of us. I don’t celebrate well. For more than a year, I have listed daily at least three things for which to thank God and celebrate. Celebration raises our thankfulness. Celebration engulfs us in joy. Joy (and laughter) is good like a medicine. Celebration breaks into my usual pessimism with joy like sunshine breaking from the clouds. What a blessing to my heart! What is there not to celebrate? God breaks in and parties with us when we celebrate his work in our lives. What can you celebrate now? What can you celebrate every day?
Scripture: Read Nehemiah 8:10. Judah came back to the land and renewed the covenant. They were urged to celebrate. How does “the joy of the Lord is your strength” relate to celebration as a spiritual discipline?
Now It’s Your Turn: What is something you have celebrated recently? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.
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