I'm a work first, play later kind of gal. The trouble is, the work is never done.
Yes, we are called to work diligently in the kingdom. We are commanded to take what God has given us and use it to serve others and bring Him glory.
But there is another aspect of kingdom-living, one that is often ignored in our current culture that elevates productivity, and it's this: celebration.
God invites His people to celebrate because He is a God of celebration.
Biblical celebration at its core is dwelling on the goodness of God. We engage in celebration when we place our confidence in God's goodness and enjoy ourselves, our lives, our world, and our God.
Old Testament Celebrations
Celebration is woven throughout Scripture. In Old Testament times the people of God were commanded to gather three times a year to feast before the Lord. Families looked forward to these long trek to Jerusalem for the annual festivals because it was a time of great joy. During these multi-day celebrations, they were careful to set their work aside, as God instructed. This was a time of joy and laughter, dancing and playing, eating good food and resting, all in a spirit of gratitude for God's provision. God knew His people needed these times to step away from the mundane of their ordinary lives and come before Him to cultivate hearts of worship.
New Testament Celebrations
Celebration is at the heart of the way of Jesus. He entered the world with the angels singing in celebration (Luke 2:10), and He left the world giving joy to His disciples (John 155:11). At the start of His public ministry, He proclaimed the Year of Jubilee (Luke 4:18-19), pointing to Himself as the fulfillment of this ancient year of celebration.
Jesus' first miracle was one of celebration - turning water into wine at a wedding. He used six stone waterpots, each holding about 20-30 gallons. The waterpots are connected with the system of Law, because they were used in ceremonial purification. This miracle symbolized the new and better covenant Jesus was instituting. It also pointed to the abundance of joy found in Him.
Jesus ate with His disciples, took intentional time for rest and attended the Jewish feasts. And I imagine Him with a twinkle in His eye and a roaring laugh that rang out across the Sea of Galilee. Celebration was a part of His life.
As followers of Jesus we are called to live in a perpetual Jubilee of the Spirit. It is part of how we follow and become like Him. Out of all the people on the planet, we ought to be the most joy-filled and celebratory. Saint Augustine said, “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.”
The Spiritual Discipline of Celebration
Celebration is a spiritual discipline. In fact, it is central to all the spiritual disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the other spiritual disciplines become dull, lifeless tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Celebration brings joy into our lives, and joy makes us strong.
Celebration ought to be part of the regular rhythm of our lives. If we fill our lives with simple good things and constantly thank God for them, we will be joyful.
Celebration does not deny pain and brokenness, but it is an intentional decision to set our minds on good things. When we choose to live this way, the redemption of Christ breaks into every area of our lives.
Ideas for Celebration
Since celebration is a spiritual discipline - a habit of those who follow Christ - there are ways we can intentionally incorporate celebration in our lives.
What to celebrate:
birthdays and anniversaries
graduations and new jobs
completion of projects
moves to a new house and town
significant spiritual events
achievements and accomplishments
creativity in others
How to celebrate:
music and dancing
food and drink
activities that bring you joy
imagination and creativity
enjoy God's creation
enjoy the arts
communion with body of Christ
keeping a gratitude journal
cultivate a wide appreciation for life
The desire of celebration is to take joyful, passionate pleasure in God, His Word and His people. Celebration is a way of engaging in activities that orient our spirits toward worship, praise and thanksgiving. The most amazing thing about celebration, is that as we celebrate, it births more celebration. Laughter begets laughter. Joy multiplies into more joy. Until the sum total of our lives is one big celebration of the goodness of God.
Let's celebrate! God is making all things new!